US Coins

Simpson’s Proof $20 Saints at Heritage’s FUN Platinum Night sale

A possibly unique 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Arabic Numerals, Small Edge Lettering gold $20 double eagle graded Proof 68 by PCGS with a green CAC sticker is a standout at Heritage’s January Platinum Night session.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Two exceptional Proof Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles continue Heritage’s offerings of the Bob R. Simpson Collection at its Jan. 12 Platinum Night session as part of its Florida United Numismatists auctions. 

Certain to generate excitement is a 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Arabic Numerals double eagle of the Small Edge Lettering variant that Heritage believes is possibly unique, graded Proof 68 by Professional Coin Grading Service and carrying a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker.

It has been off the market for two decades and is part of a group of 1907 experimental issues as the Philadelphia Mint worked to turn sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ design into coinable form. While the various 1907 Ultra High Relief and High Relief issues are well-researched, the lower-relief Proof 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagles are less well-known.

There are two known varieties of these Arabic Numeral Matte Proofs that share a lower relief as used on the circulating issues: one with the Large Edge Lettering as seen on the High Relief issues, and another with Small Edge Lettering.

Researcher Roger W. Burdette observed that none of these experimental coins was listed in the official Mint Report, suggesting, “These were probably made to show the new designs to their best advantage, or to test changes in edge lettering on the double eagle, and are technically pattern or experimental pieces. These were not officially distributed to collectors, and several were supposed to have been melted.”

Edge lettering on these double eagles was impressed by a three-part collar during the striking process and the Small Edge Lettering variety is similar to the edge lettering that would be used on regular issue, low relief 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagles struck for circulation. Because the Small Edge Lettering collar was designed for the lower relief design, Heritage suggests that the offered example was struck after the Large Edge Lettering Proof type.

Near-perfection can be frustrating for provenance researchers, since an absence of defining marks makes specifically identifying this coin in prior sales speculative. Heritage wrote, “It is not possible to confirm that all four early appearances of the Small Edge Lettering variety represent the same example, and we cannot positively link them to the present coin.” When compared with the Proof double eagles of 1908, the offered coin has a brighter finish. Expert John Dannreuther characterized it as having “extremely fine granular surfaces, unlike any other matte [Proof] issues.” Heritage definitively traces it back to the Ed Trompeter Collection and when last offered at Heritage’s November 2005 sale of the Phillip H. Morse Collection, it brought $920,000.

Top graded 1912 $20

Another spectacular example of the type is a 1912 Saint-Gaudens double eagle graded Proof 68 Star by Numismatic Guaranty Co. that is the sole finest example of its low-mintage date, of which just 74 were struck. In an interesting quirk of third-party grading reporting, PCGS and NGC combined have reported 77 submissions at the services, exceeding the number struck, reflecting duplications at the Proof 66 and Proof 67 level, where the same coins were submitted multiple times for upgrades. Heritage writes, “The Simpson specimen, however, resides above all of the resubmissions, inflated population figures, and condition speculation,” praising its mellow olive-gold color and luminous sandblast surfaces.

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