Augustus Saint Gaudens 1907 High Relief
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126 posts in this topic

45 minutes ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

An MS-63 Wire CAC (in one of those solid white NGC holders that isn't optimal) just sold for $17,325 including bp.

The fin-rim pieces (incorrectly called "wire rim") are nearly all damaged in some way by flaking of the thin gold fin. Inspectors at the Philadelphia Mint were reluctant to remove these defects because that might reduce the coin's weight to under legal limits. It was not until mid-December that the Director, Superintendent and Engraver were able to find a blank size and upset angle that resulted in nearly fin-less coins.

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2 hours ago, RWB said:

The fin-rim pieces (incorrectly called "wire rim") are nearly all damaged in some way by flaking of the thin gold fin. Inspectors at the Philadelphia Mint were reluctant to remove these defects because that might reduce the coin's weight to under legal limits. It was not until mid-December that the Director, Superintendent and Engraver were able to find a blank size and upset angle that resulted in nearly fin-less coins.

Interesting....hope that is covered in your book. 

Would loss of the entire fin/wire rim reduce the gold weight to below the lower tolerance level (I believe it was 1/1,000th of an ounce) ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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The severity (and mass) of a fin varied from coin to coin. It is impossible to be absolute. Given the tolerance for a double eagle, 0.50 grains out of a gross weight of 516.0 grains or 0.09685%, a small fleck of fin would be enough to invalidate a coin.

[Early design and production details are in Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908.]

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Roger, I got your book from Heritage today on Saint-Gaudens DE's....WOW !!!   Spectacular !!

Totally unexepcted was the price guide for each coin/mint going back to 1976....now THAT is really useful and something you can't find anywhere else !  I take it you used Heritage and Red Book archives ?

Only disappointment is that the book is NOT hard cover.:(  I may have to buy a 2nd one if it ever appears to be going out of print since this one is sure to be beat up from all the reading I will be giving it. xD

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Glad you find the book interesting, and were not injured in getting it out of the box ! (I actually sprained my back lifting a case of them - thought it would be light....)  It's 550 pages and heavy - not a laptop book. Heritage assigned all the variety numbers and did all the pricing. They use multiple public and private sources with an emphasis on auctions.

Beyond there not being a hard cover edition, the other omission was a table of contents. The book is chronological, but some major sections are longer than others. Be sure to read the essays that precede date and mint descriptions. These will give you a new perspective on the coins and the world in whch they were a part.

Edited by RWB
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32 minutes ago, RWB said:

Glad you find the book interesting, and were no injured in getting it out of the box ! It's 550 pages and heavy - not a laptop book. Heritage assigned all the variety numbers and did all the pricing. They use multiple public and private sources with an emphasis on auctions.

Beyond there not being a hard cover edition, the other omission was a table of contents. The book is chronological, but some major sections are longer than others. Be sure to read the essays that precede date and mint descriptions. These will give you a new perspective on the coins and the world in whch they were a part.

I'm reading every damn word of this book, Roger, including the Copyright, Paper Made in....., and ISSN number crappola. xD

I'm tempted to skip ahead to the 1907 HR, 1933 controversy, and the years/mints of Saint-Gaudens DE's that I personally own, but I'm gonna stay dilligent and start from Page 1 (like I promised myself) and not finish until I hit Page 648.  I'm putting down my concurrent readings of some paper money and Akers/Bowers books to hit my new bible. xD

Like George Costanza in "The Summer Of George", I'm gonna read this book from beginning to end...in that order !! xD

Markets are closed tomorrow, I think if I knock off 20-30 pages a day I can finish by early-to-mid May.  That's my target.  Will let ya know !!

Again, congrats on this masterpiece (BTW, how come no Amazon order option ?).

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Heritage handles all distribution. Placing it on Amazon is their decision.

PS: You are authorized to skip to any date/mint coin you wish....Just read the intro to the section where your coins are listed. 1933 is handled much the same as any other year.

:)

Edited by RWB
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7 hours ago, RWB said:

Glad you find the book interesting, and were not injured in getting it out of the box ! (I actually sprained my back lifting a case of them - thought it would be light....) 

It's funny you mention that...about a year ago a guy in my club calls me.... his car is in the shop and he needs a ride to the Post Office and even then he can't lift some books he illustrated with a famous actress.  He's mailing them to Seattle for a book signing.  He says he's mailing about 50 and I'm like "how heavy can they be ?  5 or 6 trips from the car, 10 books a pop.....jeez."

Well, they're all hard cover with thick glossy photo paper and the book is cofee table-sized.  Nearly had a heart attack lifting them back-and-forth from the car to the Post Office counter !

I told him next time go paperback and smaller in size !  

At least I got an autographed copy for my mother. xD

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 4/2/2020 at 8:01 PM, Conder101 said:

The first reference I can find in the graysheet for a 1907 HR was in 1974, with a "Choice BU" (which the sheet equated to MS-65) with a bid price of $3,900 and Ask $4,200.

My 1970 Red Book has the 1907 HR in "UNC" at $950.  I believe Uncirculated was equivalent to MS65, maybe MS63 for coins not plentiful in Mint State.  Proofs listed for $2,500.

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1 minute ago, RWB said:

There are no "proof" MCMVII double eagles. All were made the same way. :)

Right, but NGC calls them "proofs" -- I think you covered that in your book.  PCGS does not.

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41 minutes ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Right, but NGC calls them "proofs" -- I think you covered that in your book.  PCGS does not.

They are wrong. I've been told they will not designate any new examples.

However, NGC might have identified members of the first 500 made to placate President Roosevelt

Edited by RWB
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On 4/2/2020 at 6:15 AM, MarkFeld said:

Weakening in prices has not been confined just to MS63 and lower grade examples.

From what I have seen, the prices for MS65 and above have held up.  Since you are talking about $50,000 and up here, these buyers appear less price-sensitive. 

Definite weakness at MS63 and below....AU58 and below.  (thumbsu

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On 5/13/2020 at 2:32 PM, RWB said:

They are wrong. I've been told they will not designate any new examples.

However, NGC might have identified members of the first 500 made to placate President Roosevelt

I haven't heard that. Who told you?

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On 5/13/2020 at 2:32 PM, RWB said:

They are wrong. I've been told they will not designate any new examples.

However, NGC might have identified members of the first 500 made to placate President Roosevelt

I just contacted NGC, quoted what you posted and asked if they still designate examples as Proof. I was told yes.

I'm surprised that you, someone who frequently calls for factually based determinations, would post what you did, without first checking with NGC. 

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3 hours ago, MarkFeld said:

I just contacted NGC,quoted what you posted and asked if they still designate examples as Proof.I was told yes.I'm surprised that you, someone who frequently calls for factually based determinations, would post what you did, without first checking with NGC. 

I'll let Roger chime in, but maybe he heard they were considering it or it was likely but NGC is cointinuing with the status quo.

It might not matter really....they may not receive any more 1907 HR "proofs" anyway.  Maybe they haven't gotten any in years.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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1 hour ago, James_OldeTowne said:

Here is an NGC MS-63 which sold a few days ago for 14,455 including BP.

Wow.....only 2 years ago these coins were selling pretty consistently for $20,000 (incl. bp).  Despite a nice rise in gold since then, lower-end 1907 High Relief's have clearly weakened. 

Unless the TPGs have gotten some raw 1907's of late to grade (thereby increasing the supply), it appears you just had existing holders want out and there wasn't enough demand to absorb it at the prevailing price.

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16 minutes ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

I'll let Roger chime in, but maybe he heard they were considering it or it was likely but NGC is cointinuing with the status quo.

It might not matter really....they may not receive any more 1907 HR "proofs" anyway.  Maybe they haven't gotten any in years.

It wasn't difficult to get an answer from NGC.

As long as the the 1907 High Reliefs that are designated Proof trade at decent premiums to business strikes, those who hope or think they have one, will continue to submit them.

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5 minutes ago, MarkFeld said:

It wasn't difficult to get an answer from NGC.

As long as the the 1907 High Reliefs that are designated Proof trade at decent premiums to business strikes, those who hope or think they have one, will continue to submit them.

Makes sense....Roger actually covers the NGC-Proof angle in his book pretty much in-depth.  Obviously, this is key since HA gives that information alongside the coins when they are up for auction on their website.

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3 hours ago, MarkFeld said:

I just contacted NGC, quoted what you posted and asked if they still designate examples as Proof. I was told yes.

I'm surprised that you, someone who frequently calls for factually based determinations, would post what you did, without first checking with NGC. 

That is what I was told by an NGC representative. I stand corrected. It must not have been a final decision. In any event, all the coins were made the same way, so a "proof" designation is specious. As noted before, they might have identified a way to separate the first 500 made in August from the balance, although it's presently not possible to verify anything because of the edge is obscured on so many pieces..

Edited by RWB
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This is from the catalog description of a Proof that was sold earlier this year:

"Undoubtedly, proof High Relief twenties will remain controversial long into the future of numismatics. The case NGC has claimed for the production of proofs rests on interesting and fairly convincing diagnostics. In our 2018 reference Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles, Scott Schechter stated:
 

"Numismatists Walter Breen and David Akers were both of the mind that proof coins were struck and exhibited satin surfaces, numerous die lines and sharper detail. But neither attributed proofs to a single die pair. By the mid-1980s, however, coins struck from just one die marriage and one collar were associated with these special features and singularly called proofs. The collar identified for striking proofs was used only with this one die pair and was never used again with other dies to make High Relief double eagles. As a result, the collar is now referred to as the proof collar."


Proofs were struck using a collar previously used to strike Ultra High Reliefs; specifically, the serif-letters collar described as "Edge 3" or "Edge B-II" by Roger Burdette. All proof High Reliefs are Wire Rim variants and all share three diagnostics:
 

  • Two faint die lines that emerge from the base of the branch.
  • A die line that runs through the base of the Capitol dome.
  • Die lines that are visible within the raised portion of the sun's rays on the reverse."

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, MarkFeld said:

As long as the the 1907 High Reliefs that are designated Proof trade at decent premiums to business strikes

From my 1970 Red Book, the premium was well over 100% (though the grade for the proof isn't listed).  From what I have seen, it's 20-30% of late on a larger dollar base.

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For anybody with the book.....Mark's excerpts above on proofs is from Page 73 of Roger's book and the entire Pro vs. Con Debate on Proofs is Pages 73-80.

Fascinating stuff, regardless of where you stand.

Thanks for chiming in, Mark and Roger ! (thumbsu

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There is nothing whatever convincing about the quoted analysis - plus, there is a total absence of facts....other than those.....? (For coins struck 3 times on a medal press, with annealing between blows, and all the attendant potential problems, it is surprising that so many were actually accepted. An unusually wide appearance range would be expected.)

Wow! Just got it!   The were really SMS coins....Got to be it. Yep.....

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Maybe the whole problem would have been avoided if the TPGs just called them PL -- Proof Like  ?

The whole thing with the satin and matte finishes was very interesting but confusing to a modern investor because with today's technology (really going back decades) the Proof designation is clear because proof coins are easily determined by a super-high shine. 

A modern Proof coin vs. a high-quality business strike -- the difference is clear.

I'm not sure that you can tell the difference between the "Proofs" and high-quality strikes quite as easily with coins from the early-1900's like Saints.  Maybe to a trained eye or collector.  But anybody can tell the difference, IMO, with modern coins with Proof vs. regular (business) strikes, even when both are Superb Gem Quality.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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6 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Maybe the whole problem would have been avoided if the TPGs just called them PL -- Proof Like  ?

The whole thing with the satin and matte finishes was very interesting but confusing to a modern investor because with today's technology (really going back decades) the Proof designation is clear because proof coins are easily determined by a super-high shine. 

A modern Proof coin vs. a high-quality business strike -- the difference is clear.

I'm not sure that you can tell the difference between the "Proofs" and high-quality strikes quite as easily with coins from the early-1900's like Saints.  Maybe to a trained eye or collector.  But anybody can tell the difference, IMO, with modern coins with Proof vs. regular (business) strikes, even when both are Superb Gem Quality.

“Proof-like” implies reflective surfaces. The High Reliefs being discussed don’t display that characteristic.
 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, MarkFeld said:

“Proof-like” implies reflective surfaces. The High Reliefs being discussed don’t display that characteristic.

Yes, good point Mark....reflectivity wasn't a hallmark of Proof status back then, it was the satin or matte finish.

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