US Coins

Flashy and fresh gold takes spotlight in upcoming Legend Las Vegas auction

One of the finest-known 1907 Saint-Gaudens, High Relief $20 double eagles is returning to auction just seven months after selling for $258,000.

The Flat Rim example graded Mint State 67 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker is estimated to bring $225,000 to $250,000 at Legend’s Regency Auction 39, set for July 16 in Las Vegas.

The 1907 High Relief double eagle is a masterpiece by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and is considered by many to be the most beautiful design ever struck. The artist had been exploring standing figures with flowing drapery throughout his career, most notably on the full-size figure of Victory on his equestrian monument to the Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman now in New York’s Grand Army Plaza. Initial designs for the coin included the wings seen on the allegorical figure, but they were ultimately removed in the final coin design. Other modifications from the figure include the addition of a torch and switching the palm frond, a traditional emblem of victory, to an olive branch, representing peace.

Two rim varieties are seen on the High Relief double eagles struck for circulation in 1907.

Gold expert David Akers owned this coin in the 1980s. He explained, “The varieties actually occurred by accident when the first pieces struck (the Wire Rim coins) were struck using a collar that either did not fit properly or was insufficiently tight. The pressure from the repeated blows required to bring up the design properly forced metal up where the edge of the coin meets the collar to form a thin wire rim. When the collar problem was discovered and corrected (after the majority of High Reliefs had been struck), this so-called Flat Rim variety resulted.”

Perhaps two thirds of the 12,367 1907 High Relief twenties represent the Wire Rim variety, making the Flat Rim the scarcer of the two types, and all High Reliefs are widely coveted, even in lower grades. When offered at Heritage’s Jan. 9 Platinum Night auction in Orlando as part of the Rollo Fox collection earlier this year, Heritage praised, “The vivid orange-gold surfaces display hints of pale blue and violet patina,” adding, “Both sides are virtually pristine, exhibiting soft, frosty mint luster throughout.”

It had previously sold at Heritage’s January 2012 auction as part of the Duckor Collection where it sold for $172,500.

So fresh and so clean

It’s remarkable when an 18th century gold coin looks fresh and lustrous like it was recently struck. A 1799 Capped Bust, Large Stars Obverse, Heraldic Eagle gold $10 eagle graded MS-63+ by PCGS with a green CAC sticker appears to be the definition of fresh. Dealer and gold coin specialist Doug Winter wrote in his blog on the concept of “Freshness” in numismatics, sharing, “A coin is described as ‘fresh’ to denote that it has been off the market for a long period of time or has maybe even never before been offered for sale. But a coin can be described as having a ‘fresh’ appearance and my interpretation of this is a look which is characterized by deep natural coloration and no apparent signs of surface alteration.”

The offered coin has both, with Legend calling it a fresh coin to market and writing, “surprisingly strong luster glows boldly from all over. Both sides are an amazing fresh and original yellow gold color. There are NO spots or discolorations.”

Legend estimates it at $70,000 to $80,000 using the 2019 auction of another PCGS MS-63+ example with a green CAC sticker as a comparable, but warning bidders, “When you see this remarkable piece, you will fall in love, just like we did! Keep in mind, next step up costs $150,000.00 or more, if you can even find a PCGS CAC piece!”

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