US Coins

Proof gold collection exhibit set at World’s Fair of Money

Tom Koessl’s collection included exclusively Proof gold coins struck from 1908 to 1915. The coins , which recently sold, will be on display at the 2022 World's Fair of Money.

All images courtesy of GreatCollections Coin Auctions.

A recently sold collection of Matte and Satin Proof gold coinage produced from 1908 to 1915, likely the finest known, will be exhibited at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois, Aug. 16 through 20.

GreatCollections, the ANA’s official auctioneer, will host the exhibit. Tom Koessl, who assembled the collection, will be available to discuss the set and answer collector questions at various times on three days of the show.

Matte Proof coinage was produced by the U.S. Mint from 1908 to 1915, with the exception of 1909 and 1910, when a Satin Finish was used; the set includes all four denominations and both finishes. Gold coins produced in this period bore designs from Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Bela Lyon Pratt, designs regarded as some of the most beautiful to ever appear on United States coinage, part of what numismatic researcher Roger Burdette termed the “Renaissance of American Coinage.” Cornelius Vermeule described Saint-Gaudens’ double eagle design as “perhaps the most majestic coin ever to bear our national imprint.”

Collector dissatisfaction with existing Proof finishes in the early 20th century spurred the Mint to experiment with finishes other than Matte and Satin in the early 20th century, before commercial Proof coin production ended after 1916. Collectors surveyed at the 1910 ANA convention expressed a preference for Matte (or Sandblast) Finish.

Two other fascinating early 20th century Proof gold coins, a unique 1910 Saint-Gaudens double eagle with an “Experimental Finish” and one of two known 1921 Saint-Gaudens double eagles with Satin Finish, will also be exhibited at the World’s Fair of Money.

Building the collection

Koessl began assembling his collection decades ago, working with several collectors and dealers to put together a set of the highest quality. GreatCollections’ announcement of the exhibit quotes Certified Acceptance Corp. founder John Albanese describing Koessl’s “meticulous” collecting: “I have observed Tom for decades, scouring the bourse floor for the ultimate coins for his collection. And I even offered him about a half dozen examples over the years, but can’t recall him ever making a purchase. I’m known as a tough grader but this guy Tom Koessl! Impossible to please, actually a pain in the you-know-what! As he would walk away after rejecting my prized matte proof gold coin, I often wondered, ‘does this guy ever buy anything?’ He also stated a valid reason: he claimed that his piece was superior.” As Albanese later learned, Koessl was correct. Over the course of putting the collection together, Koessl became a leading expert on 1908 to 1915 Proof gold coinage, according to GreatCollections.

Albanese and CAC handled Koessl’s collection when it came time to sell. A book about Koessl’s collection is forthcoming from GreatCollections.

Koessl will be available at the GreatCollections booth (#1105) to discuss the collection and assess visitors’ Matte Proof gold coins on Aug. 17 and 18 at 2:00 p.m. ET and Aug. 18 at noon.

All of the coins in the collection are certified by Professional Coin Grading service in grades ranging from Proof 67 to Proof 68+. All of the coins bear Certified Acceptance Corp. stickers, three of which are gold.

Albanese elaborated on the collection’s remarkable originality, quoted in the press release: “In reviewing each coin, every single coin held up technically, and even more importantly, they were original uncleaned virgin coins. When this set is viewed by experts at this year’s ANA, I am sure it will be unanimous, all will agree this couldn’t be duplicated even if a collector had unlimited time and money. Heck, this couldn’t be duplicated in the next 20 years at a point lower.”

Ephemera relating to the coins, including an envelope which contained a 1911 Proof set, thought to be the only such envelope in existence, is also part of the display.

Koessl described the collection’s personal significance as “my passion; my life-long pursuit.” He expressed gratitude to the dealers and collectors who helped him assemble the collection and those who helped ensure that it “was purchased by a passionate collector who valued it as a complete set as much as I did over the years,” and Koessl hopes that the set will continue to remain intact.

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