Roger Burdette's Saint Gaudens Double Eagles Book
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Posted (edited)

Page 89 on the 1907 Arabic Saints.....look at the top-most arrow in the picture of the rays.  "Thin die scratches extend between rays on the left side on approximately half of the coins examined.  These do not match marks left from die repair and were probably an incomplete area that Barber failed to finish."

Wow, what detail. (thumbsu I swear to God, I look at the picture of the die scratches and it looks pretty much like imperfections in the rest of the picture of the coin.   Without the arrows I'd be seeing nothing.   How you/they could ID that as die scratches...and then know that something that you can barely see doesn't match marks (?) left from "die repair" is beyond me.

Just amazing....I guess this is maybe 2nd-hand stuff to a professional numismatist or researcher but to me I'm amazed you can tell these are die scratches as opposed to just normal imperfections in a surface that isn't perfectly smooth.(thumbsu

 

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Posted (edited)

MCMVII HIGH RELIEF Proofs: Pro & Con

Scott Schechter, of NGC, made these points:

  • Expert opinion evenly split
  • Single die pair for MCMVII HR Proofs as per NGC
  • Distinctive texture and satiny luster to the coins
  • Sharply detailed design elements
  • All Proofs were of the Wire Rim variety.  Flat rim coins, produced later, are not in the "proof" discussion.
  • The deep recesses of the HR dies prevent the die from being polished (why is this ?)
  • HR "proofs" did not have mirror finishes...Proof attributes were very crisp strikes and heavy swirling die polish lines and other special attributes (what other attributes?).
  • David Akers believed proofs were struck as did Walter Breen.  I value Akers opinion here more than Breens if only because Akers focused on Saints and gold coins and Breen covered anything and everything.
  • By the 1980's, coins struck from just one die marriage and one collar were associated with these special features and called proofs.  "Proof collar" used only with this 1 die pair.
  • The Proof Collar is Edge 3 or Edge B-II also used in the MCMVII UHR.  Serif letters as described in RWB's RoAC 1905-08.

I have trouble identifying the swirling die polish on Page 77.  I see the die lines below the olive branch but am not sure I see swirling die polish.  I see a bunch of (swirling ?) lines below and to the left of the olive branch bottom, is that the polish ?   Heavy polish seems to be very fine thin die lines.  

John Dannreuther, Author:

  • Basically, UHR collar + Early State of Dies + Lots of Die Polish = Proofs
  • Danreuther says HR's were struck 2 or 3 times (were ANY struck 2 times ?  I thought all got 3 blows from the press).
  • No officiaL RECORD UNLIKE 1907 proofs and all other proofs recorded over the decades, no mention of them, no discussion among key Mint officials and workers. 

Me....I think PCGS should just use the PL (Proof Like) designation.

Someone said here or on another site that NGC is not labeling any MORE MCMVII HR's as proofs....earlier ones are grandfathered.  Did I read that correctly ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 1/5/2022 at 4:34 PM, RWB said:

Ample doses of B.S. and "hedging" from the old looks-like crowd, as opposed to facts. JD's comments, if current, are especially disappointing because they say nothing to show the coins are "proofs."

No, that's from the book....you had him representing the No-Proofs side, remember ?

On 1/5/2022 at 4:34 PM, RWB said:

No evidence of anything different beyond ordinary production variation - with two annealing cycles and three blows from a medal press, the likelihood of slight differences is magnified. Likewise, there are no "proof-like" HR pieces - just minor variation from piece-to-piece.

The press that struck the UHRs and HRs seemed to be more powerful than the regular striking of Saints, right ?  Maybe that extra tonnage plus the fresh dies gave the newer struck coins an enhanced look.

On 1/5/2022 at 4:34 PM, RWB said:

However, in November 1907 a second pair of dies and collar were put into service. Thus, the first 500 in August/September, made to keep TR happy, were all from the same die pair and collar. Remember - none of this was known to Breen, or NGC, or anyone else until I did the research and found the documents. NGC might therefore be excused in its initial assessment. But, any continuation of this beyond publication of Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908, is inexcusable.

Yup, that's where I got the above and I recall your focus on the first 500 to keep TR happy. (thumbsu

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On 1/6/2022 at 12:38 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

The press that struck the UHRs and HRs seemed to be more powerful than the regular striking of Saints, right ?  Maybe that extra tonnage plus the fresh dies gave the newer struck coins an enhanced look.

Both EHR patterns (7 blows) and HR circulation (3 blows) were made on high pressure medal presses. The 1907 circulation issue was struck on a normal toggle press, and at much lower pressure.

So JD's comments are older, and predate the book. They can then be excused due to age.

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Posted (edited)
On 1/6/2022 at 11:46 AM, RWB said:

So JD's comments are older, and predate the book. They can then be excused due to age.

Could be....I guess you did most of the research for the Saint-Gaudens DE book up through 2015.  But JD's comments may have been from another source (provided via HA ?) that was even earlier.  I don't know if Scott @ NGC or JD were both from other sources or if they were new to your Saints book (apparently JD wasn't).

Regardless, the debate was informative.  I think the no-Proofs side has the stronger argument.

Does anybody know if NGC will no longer certify MCMVII HR's as Proofs ?  DWLange ?

 

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Roger, based on the lack of research/commentary on the stolen 1928 Double Eagles, I take it nobody ever tried to claim or ask about if any of them were sold during the 1940's or 1950's or later ?

As far as you know, has anybody in modern times covered the theft besides yourself ?

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On 1/8/2022 at 1:27 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Roger, based on the lack of research/commentary on the stolen 1928 Double Eagles, I take it nobody ever tried to claim or ask about if any of them were sold during the 1940's or 1950's or later ?

As far as you know, has anybody in modern times covered the theft besides yourself ?

I don't know. I didn't check newspapers at the time the coins were discovered missing.

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On 1/8/2022 at 4:45 PM, RWB said:

I don't know. I didn't check newspapers at the time the coins were discovered missing.

Now that's an idea.   I wonder if The NY Times or the Philly papers had coverage on the theft and it's on microfilm.

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If a bunch of blokes can manage to steal a Giant Canadian Maple Leaf 🍁 from a museum in Germany weighing 100 kgs. [221 lbs. / 3,215 Troy ozs] and worth millions with nothing more complicated than a skateboard and wheelbarrow, I don't think bags of U.S. currency, infinitely lighter by comparison, would pose much of a challenge beyond dispersal since the series and serial numbers of each bill was pre-recorded.

True, the truck robbers were eventually caught (and given ridiculously short "skid bids") or died, but neither the coin itself -- on loan from a private clollector -- or its gold content were ever recovered but that was nearly five years ago compared with nearly one hundred years ago (when such a robbery was a local offense and the FDIC and FBI did not exist).

[Readers enthralled by robberies, larcenies and the like, may wish to consult @RWB's parallel sister thread, "More on thefts from U.S. Mints," begun on 1/6/2022.]

Edited by Quintus Arrius
Die polishing: additional information.
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Posted (edited)
On 1/9/2022 at 6:32 AM, Quintus Arrius said:

If a bunch of blokes can manage to steal a Giant Canadian Maple Leaf 🍁 from a museum in Germany weighing 100 kgs. [221 lbs. / 3,215 Troy ozs] and worth millions with nothing more complicated than a skateboard and wheelbarrow, I don't think bags of U.S. currency, infinitely lighter by comparison, would pose much of a challenge beyond dispersal since the series and serial numbers of each bill was pre-recorded.

The bag of 250 1928 Double Eagles only weighed 16 pounds.  The thing is, it was in a vault where you would have had to carry it out and up past lots of people.  Maybe a woman or a guy could use their coat or something to cover-up the bag....or maybe there was an emergency exit closer to the vaults, though I don't think so based on Roger's schematics.

A few coins I can understand sneaking out.  An entire bag, during working hours, that's alot tougher.  

I wonder if they "hid" the bag somewhere...and snuck the coins out individually over time, plus the bag ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 1/9/2022 at 1:12 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Now that's an idea.   I wonder if The NY Times or the Philly papers had coverage on the theft and it's on microfilm.

I could be wrong but I believe with the advent of computers, all microfilmed records have been reduced to computerized records.

There is, or was, a branch of the New York Public Library dedicated solely to patents and trademarks on far West 43rd Street, Manhattan, then a rarely visited location.  Is it still there?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Judging by what I saw, a lot of photocopied reels were consigned to fire. Upgrades to computer files have done away with newspaper morgues and entire law libraries of reporters and supplements cited by RWB in his studies.    🐓 

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On 1/9/2022 at 12:29 PM, Quintus Arrius said:

I could be wrong but I believe with the advent of computers, all microfilmed records have been reduced to computerized records.  There is, or was, a branch of the New York Public Library dedicated solely to patents and trademarks on far West 43rd Street, Manhattan, then a rarely visited location.  Is it still there?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Judging by what I saw, a lot of photocopied reels were consigned to fire. Upgrades to computer files have done away with newspaper morgues and entire law libraries of reporters and supplements cited by RWB in his studies.    🐓 

No idea, but I'll look for that branch this week when I go to the Mid-Town Manhattan branch (itself 100% redesigned during Covid from the beaten-down, shclumpy place it was years ago).

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On 1/9/2022 at 6:30 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

No idea, but I'll look for that branch this week when I go to the Mid-Town Manhattan branch (itself 100% redesigned during Covid from the beaten-down, shclumpy place it was years ago).

N Y P L 

521 West 43rd Street. (212) 714-8529 - patents office.

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Fascinating comments from David Akers on how stable the 1921 Saint has been in the scarcity rankings since WW II.

I will check Roger's updated estimates to make sure that what he said here about a decade ago still stands, I believe it does:

"...The standing of the 1921 in the overall hierarchy of Saint-Gaudens double eagle rarities has changed less over the last seven decades than any other regular issue in the series. During that time, some issues have dropped precipitously from their place at the top (1924-S and 1926-S for example) and others have risen substantially (1920-S, 1930-S and especially 1927-D) but the 1921 has always been recognized as being among the top four rarities of the series, both 70 years ago and today, at least with respect to value. The only thing that has changed is the other three coins with it at the top.

The 1921 is now considered to be the second most valuable regular issue Saint-Gaudens double eagle, surpassed only by the 1927-D whose extreme rarity was not recognized fully until the 1950s, at least in comparison to other issues in the series. Judged solely on its population rarity, meaning the total number of specimens known in all grades, the 1921 is certainly rare, but not exceptionally so, comparable overall to the 1920-S, but actually less rare than the 1930-S and 1932.

However, as a condition rarity it is the unrivaled "Queen" of the Saint-Gaudens series because the condition at which it becomes extremely rare and valuable is lower than for any other issue. Of course, every Saint is a condition rarity at a certain level. For example, any issue is (or would be if one existed) a great rarity in MS68 or 69. For some issues MS67 is the rarity point, for others it is MS65 or MS66. But no issue, not even the 1927-D, is as difficult to locate in MS64 or higher grades as the 1921. Only four or possibly five specimens are known in the MS65 and MS66 grades combined with nothing finer. Even in the MS63 and 64 grades, the 1921 is a major rarity with no more than 12-15 examples known of those two grades combined."

 

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On 1/8/2022 at 4:45 PM, RWB said:

I don't know. I didn't check newspapers at the time the coins were discovered missing.

The tense used here is curious and a tease.  You did not say "I haven't checked newspaper accounts..." Instead, you state "I didn't check newspapers at the time..." implying you had boots on the ground then.  Yours is a unique voice and writing style! ✍  

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@GoldFinger1969

You have your work cut out for you. Unrelenting research, intermittent auctions and auction records, archives, the discovery of bank "hoards," TPGS authentifications and certifications woven into a fluid and ever-evolving thread. There is no other thread like this in the world!   🐓 

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On 1/12/2022 at 10:44 PM, Quintus Arrius said:

The tense used here is curious and a tease.  You did not say "I haven't checked newspaper accounts..." Instead, you state "I didn't check newspapers at the time..." implying you had boots on the ground then.  Yours is a unique voice and writing style! ✍  

So.....you're saying that RWB had a hand in the theft of the 1928 DEs ??!!! xD  I KNEW something was off when Roger said he didn't have much information on it.   He ALWAYS has information....man is the World Book Enclyopedia and Encylopedia Brittanica before there was Wikepedia !

Ok, Roger....hand 'em over.  I want two MS67's from the bag or I go to the Feds. xD

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On 1/12/2022 at 10:44 PM, Quintus Arrius said:

"I didn't check newspapers at the time..."

It would have been clearer had I written: "I didn't check newspapers published at the time...." But, the copy editor was off for the afternoon, and the family cat had just been sliced in half by a snowplow; thus, there were extenuating circumstances.

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On 1/12/2022 at 9:30 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

I will check Roger's updated estimates to make sure that what he said here about a decade ago still stands, I believe it does.

Yup, Roger not only incorporated Akers' comments above, but also added his own thoughts and it appears most of the just under 600 coins paid out by Philly were mostly circulated.

Fascinating how one year can have so few top-end coins, and the coins preceeding and following it can have plenty.

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I think I have posted this before but here's how the coins moved up-and-down in the scarcity rankings over the 75 years:

 

Rarity Rankings, 1940's/1950's:

ULTRA-RARE….1924-S, 1926-D, 1926-S

SUPER-RARE….1921, 1927-S, 1931-D

RARE……………1925-D, 1927-D, 1930-S

SEMI-RARE……1922-S, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1920-S, 1908-S, 1924-D

 

Rarity Rankings, 2000’s:

ULTRA-RARE…….1927-D, 1930-S, 1921

SUPER-RARE…….1920-S, 1931, 1932

RARE………………1931-D, 1927-S, 1926-D

SEMI-RARE………1929, 1908-S, 1925-S, 1925-D, 1909-D, 1926-S, 1924S

 

Rarity Rankings, 2020’s:

ULTRA-RARE…….1927-D, 1930-S, 1932

SUPER-RARE….....1931, 1931-D, 1921 

RARE………………1920-S, 1927-S, 1929

SEMI-RARE………1926-D, 1925-D, 1926S, 1924-S, 1909-D, 1924-D, 1908-S

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Very interesting. There must be a correlation between these rankings and the advent of TPGS authentifications and certifications. Before this all you had were respective mintages -- and rumors.

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On 1/16/2022 at 11:30 AM, Quintus Arrius said:

Very interesting. There must be a correlation between these rankings and the advent of TPGS authentifications and certifications. Before this all you had were respective mintages -- and rumors.

Actually, the TPGs had next to nothing to do with this.  It's the existence of HOARDS and the realization that what was believed to be scarce could come back in droves from Central or South America, or Europe.

Conversely, the assumption that the 1927-D was plentiful because the 1927 was turned out to be way off the mark.

Back then, all it took was 1 dealer to say something false -- intentional or not -- and there was little way to fact check (no Internet, TPGs, or accurate population censuses).  If you thought that a 1926-S or 1924-S was pretty rare and only a few dozen Gem Mint State examples and were willing to pay up...but your dealer said he knew there were "hundreds" circulating in New York or Philly...you'd be hesitant to pay up.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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This is a lingering problem with many numismatic publications and rumors: dealers in coins have strongly biased perceptions based on their personal experiences and anecdotes from other in the business. They rarely have time to do in-depth research or to look beyond the most obvious sources or pseudo-sources.

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On 1/16/2022 at 12:45 PM, RWB said:

This is a lingering problem with many numismatic publications and rumors: dealers in coins have strongly biased perceptions based on their personal experiences and anecdotes from other in the business. They rarely have time to do in-depth research or to look beyond the most obvious sources or pseudo-sources.

Yup....but I think the problem was MUCH WORSE decades ago before the TPGs, publications by numismatic researchers like yourself, and the Internet. (thumbsu

I can't believe and have never read a post where someone bought a coin they were told was rare and it turned out to be plenty available and a common.  Buyers and sellers will often disagree on raw ungraded coins...sometimes even graded ones.  But it's much better today than 30 or 50 or 70 years ago.

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On 1/16/2022 at 1:00 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

where someone bought a coin they were told was rare and it turned out to be plenty available and a common. 

All the cable "Con Shows" sell these to rubes. Same for the various lists and clones -- we see their effects daily in newby posts. PCGS board is much worse just because they have more board members.

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On 1/16/2022 at 1:23 PM, RWB said:

All the cable "Con Shows" sell these to rubes. Same for the various lists and clones -- we see their effects daily in newby posts. PCGS board is much worse just because they have more board members.

The stuff they sell isn't bad...just WAY over priced.  If it gets someone into this hobby and educates them, small price to pay.  But if they buy repeatedly, they're almost certainly guaranteed to be buying overpriced, non-scarce coins.

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