Roger Burdette's Saint Gaudens Double Eagles Book
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2,182 posts in this topic

1926-D vs. 1927-D:  Re-read the Commentary sections in the book regarding how these 2 coins "flipped" in the rarity rankings in the late-1950's.  It's an interesting story, and RWB does a great job of primary research to give readers the nitty-gritty.

The 1946 FCC Boyd Catalog by Kosoff & Kreisberg noted that at the time the 1926-D was #2 in the Saint series based on "....contacts with some of our finest cabinets."  Not a bad source of information at the time, but largely anectdotal and based on memories, albeit from experts presumably with no incentive to lie or give inaccurate information.  But no TPGs...no tabulated data on the internet....etc.  Just "informed opinion."

A 1949 sale of a 1926-D hit $2,500 -- if there are higher-priced sales of Saints up to that time, even the high-end expected for a 1933 Saint that never got off the ground -- I can't find it.  I'll keep looking in the book as it is voluminous.

But a few years later, once a few tiny hoards came back to the States from Europe, the price had fallen to about $500 for a top-quality 1926-D (The "Lima" Coin, MS-66+ CAC today).

Meanwhile, no more 1927-D's came back from Europe...other rarities kept seeing a few more here-and-there hoards from Europe or S/Central America....and then by the end of the decade more-or-less the 1927-D had moved to the top of the rarity rankings and the 1926-D and 1926-S (among others) had fallen a few rungs each.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Overseas Hoards vs. Domestic Holdings:  I re-read the sections on sources of gold coin at the end of the book.  I was looking for but did not find a direct answer to this question: what % of the Saint coins that we have today came from overseas hoards vs never left the States (but avoided melting) in the 1930's ?

I know the table you have on P. 603 says just over 1 MM coins from Europe/South America, which is about 30% of the total of 3.7 MM coins.

What I'm confused about is the 591K and 2 MM coin lines.  Are these coins that were in the hands of collectors/dealers and others who held their coins but didn't turn them in after the recall ?  The numbers seem high.

I read somewhere (but can't remember where) that 90% or more of the Saints we have today came from overseas (Europe or South/Central America).  I can't prove verify that number but considereing how many people in the 1930's would risk violating the Gold Recall Law and how few dealers/collectors there were, it could be.

Here's the table/data from Page 603:

  • Estimated Survivors..............................................591,665  (1907-1933, excludes the next 2 lines)                    
  • Estimated Survivors...........................................2,028,000 (1908 Type 1 & 1922-1928 Philly Mint)
  • Estimated Survivors...........................................1,088,310 (Europe, South America)
  •       TOTAL ESTIMATED SURVIVORS..............3,707,975
Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Posted (edited)
On 12/22/2021 at 3:39 PM, DWLange said:

You stated that there were no "arbitrary pronouncements" before certified grading, but that's exactly what Walter Been was doing with his fuchsia-scripted authentication letters. These were treated as gospel in the hobby for many years, though few have held up under modern scrutiny of their subject coins.

Dave, what are these "fuchsia-scripted letters" you referenced ?  Do you have a picture of one ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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NGC's brief comments on the Saints from Jeff Garrett must be dated; I see that he included the 1984 Fake London Hoard for 1929's:

https://www.ngccoin.com/coin-explorer/united-states/gold-double-eagles/saint-gaudens-20-1907-1933/19190/1929-20-ms/

He mentions he did personally buy 10 a decade or so later.

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On 3/1/2022 at 11:08 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Dave, what are these "fuchsia-scripted letters" you referenced ?  Do you have a picture of one ?

Breen liked to use a purple marker to sign letters -- and maybe his bail bond, too.

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On 2/28/2022 at 10:50 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

591,665

These are domestic survivors.

The next are only those dates, and the last are unidentifiable except by type.

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On 3/2/2022 at 11:17 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Interesting....so about 0.8% of the entire mintage.  Less than 1%.  Wow.....(thumbsu

I had to keep checking and convince myself this was a reasonable quantity  --  I remain open to some extent on this. It seems like a lot of coins for something that barely circulated and was really just an export item.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/2/2022 at 12:35 PM, RWB said:

I had to keep checking and convince myself this was a reasonable quantity  --  I remain open to some extent on this. It seems like a lot of coins for something that barely circulated and was really just an export item.

So you think it could be less ? 

Figure dealers and serious collectors had the largest inventory.....there had to be a few thousand dealers/Saint or DE collectors by the 1930's for $20 gold pieces.  Both could afford them, unlike the masses.  Figure they had 10-50 coins each....that's tens of thousands right there.

Then go to the public for general coin collectors....maybe another 5,000 or so ?  Each with a few.....so another 20,000 coins.

Then you hit the American public....folks who kept the coins as collectible items or didn't want to turn in their gold stash....millions potentially of hard-money types....maybe 100,000 or so turning in some but not all of their coins ?  Could easily have a few hundred thousand from this group stashing it in their homes or SDBs.

Very tough to quantify, I admit my numbers can be all over the map and massaged way up or down.  It would be very interesting finding out from bankers of the 1920's and 1930's how many of their SDBs had gold coins because this would probably be the public at large.  Collectors probably lived in safe homes that could keep their collections right there....and coin dealers/jewelers had the storages/safes to keep stuff in their stores.

The public who could afford gold coins probably kept them in SDBs unless they risked hiding them in their homes (and many people rented back then so it really wasn't their home and thus less safe).

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 3/2/2022 at 12:35 PM, RWB said:

I had to keep checking and convince myself this was a reasonable quantity  --  I remain open to some extent on this. It seems like a lot of coins for something that barely circulated and was really just an export item.

And represented a large % of the average annual salary.  Today, it would be the equivalent of someone hoarding a $500 or even $1,000 bill.

No wonder kids and even adults then collected pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, or even half or silver dollars.  Cost was 1/20th or 1/2,000th that of collecting DEs.

Like you have said...it was a rich man (or rich woman's) game. xD

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Posted (edited)

Question for Roger:  How did you find otherwise obscure articles from The New York Times or coin journals (among others) that were not critical to the book but added very small details to help you at various points in the book ?    Articles like "$3,770,000 Gold To Go Today" (NYT 3/10/1909) on page 6?  

Did you have some search engine that scanned The Times for ANY article with the world "gold" in it ?  Otherwise, unless you were really focused on a very minute detail that doesn't seem critical, I don't know how you would have found some of the footnoted resources you eventually ended up using...or it wouldn't have been worth the time and effort to find them. 

Many of your footnotes and obscure notes are super-detailed and quite frankly you could have completed the book without many of these minute footnotes and/or tidbits of information.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you included them (they add to the book)....I'm just wondering how you even found some of them.  Did you have some search item that when you asked for "gold trade" 150 articles came up and then you could narrow the field or scan them for relevance ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 3/5/2022 at 11:40 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Question for Roger:  How did you find otherwise obscure articles from The New York Times or coin journals (among others) that were not critical to the book but added very small details to help you at various points in the book ?    Articles like "$3,770,000 Gold To Go Today" (NYT 3/10/1909) on page 6?  

Did you have some search engine that scanned The Times for ANY article with the world "gold" in it ?  Otherwise, unless you were really focused on a very minute detail that doesn't seem critical, I don't know how you would have found some of the footnoted resources you eventually ended up using...or it wouldn't have been worth the time and effort to find them. 

Many of your footnotes and obscure notes are super-detailed and quite frankly you could have completed the book without many of these minute footnotes and/or tidbits of information.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you included them (they add to the book)....I'm just wondering how you even found some of them.  Did you have some search item that when you asked for "gold trade" 150 articles came up and then you could narrow the field or scan them for relevance ?

Financial sections of New York papers included gold shipments as routine data. These were also mentioned in some US Mint documents, and bank documents along with comments in Congressional materials. One article might point to several others. It was a matter of searching and paying attention to details. The basic goals were to verify statements of exports or imports using multiple sources. Some articles were also useful for "topical color" and context.

I used public newspaper databases, such as Library if Congress, as well as university, library and a bunch of private (for-pay) databases including Lex-Nex.

[To the ignorant this is all merely "regurgitation" since the information already existed....]

Edited by RWB
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On 3/5/2022 at 12:10 PM, RWB said:

Financial sections of New York papers included gold shipments as routine data.

Wow, I didn't know that.  You would think the average reader of NY papers wouldn't care about that only bankers and government officials.

Very informative.  Thanks, Roger.  (thumbsu

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Shipping and finance news was important to businesses and travelers. That is why ship manifests and sailing dates/times were daily features of newspapers. Large gold transfers were often reported in business articles, even including which banks provided the gold, its purpose, source, and where on a ship the gold was being stowed. Telegraphic transfers via ear-marks were not usually reported - there was no physical movement to report. Treasury internal reports might include these transactions or just lump everything together as "ear-marks." Here's a sample from May 1928.

223521760_PagesfromGoldearmarks1928-32.thumb.jpg.55b64044d0f89a1579312a580efc46d6.jpg

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2022 at 1:47 PM, RWB said:

That is why ship manifests and sailing dates/times were daily features of newspapers. Large gold transfers were often reported in business articles, even including which banks provided the gold, its purpose, source, and where on a ship the gold was being stowed.

Couldn't all this information being public be a security risk ?

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On 3/5/2022 at 12:10 PM, RWB said:

[To the ignorant this is all merely "regurgitation" since the information already existed....]

to the informed...there's redux...remux...n reflux sometimes its diff to tell them apart, but then again all recompilations r not really research....often its more akin to charlie brown's teacher in peanuts....

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On 3/5/2022 at 5:57 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Couldn't all this information being public be a security risk ?

Possibly. The shipping wagons were always guarded. Making some of the information public, usually after the event I suspect, might have also been a protective device to warn the bad guys not to come near. Also, guns were not commonly seen in cities, so anyone with one near a gold shipment was either a "Pinkerton Man" up to no good and an immediate target. There was no "Miranda Rights reading" back then and temporary detention and arrest were used to avoid problems rather than as administrative procedures.

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On 1/27/2022 at 10:51 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Prices At The Superb Gem Level:  Was thinking a bit about a post I noted on another thread here in the forums.  MS-67's Saints are selling for $12,500 give-or-take for 1924's and about 10% higher, ~$14,000 for 1928's.  Both are considered commons and plentiful in MS-65 and not that rare in MS-67, too.  1923-D's, another "common" coin, also in the mid-teens or thereabouts for an MS-67.

However...there's a big dropoff for a coin that has lots more in the Superb Gem category and plenty (but not as many as the 1924 or 1927) in the Gem category, the 1908 No Motto.  It sells for about half the price of the 1923-D, 1924, 1927, and 1928.  

Roger's Estimates for the coins are listed first and then I have both the latest PCGS and NGC Population Census for the year.  I have no idea really how to account for double-counting and crackouts by just adding PCGS and NGC totals to one another.  Feel free to chime in. :)

1908 No Motto:  MS-67/68 @ 2,001 (both rays) and MS65/66 @ 19,400.    PCGS @ 1,027 and 40,745.....NGC @ 1,360 and 21,094.

1923-D:   MS-67/68 @ 90 and MS-65/66 @ 5,500.   PCGS @ 90 and 4,753........NGC @ 57 and 2,679.

1924:   MS-67/68 @ 225....and MS-65/66 @ 79,500.  PCGS @ 135 and 64,350....NGC @ 220 and 4,2841.

1927:   MS-67/68 @ 60 and 48,000 for 65-66.  PCGS @ 36 and 39,601.....NGC @ 62 and 24,830.

1928  MS-67/68 @ 140.......MS-65/66 @ 16,200.    PCGS @ 117 and 15,112.....NGC @ 103 and 8,483.

You can clearly see the huge dropoff at the Super Gem (MS67 and up) in the 4 other commons (1923-D, 1924, 1927, and 1928) compared to the 1908.  Hundreds available there in total for all 4 but a few thousand of the 1908 NM's.  Ironically, the 1924 and 1927 dwarf the 1908 NM at the Gem level (MS65-66) by a huge factor, the Wells Fargo Hoard really skewed the totals at that 67 level in favor of the 1908 NM.

Forgot to add that 1923-D's and 1927's -- which are considered common Type coins in lower grades -- sell for about $16,000 and $18,000...give-or-take.

That huge increase in MS67/68's for the 1908 NM really lowers the price by more than 50% from the cheapest other 67's.  Estimates I have seen are that there are definitely a few hundred serious Saint collectors who want to pay up for high-quality coins and are into registry listings.  With 2,000 (or more) 67/68 coins available, you can fill that demand plus lots of others who normally wouldn't pay up for a condition rarity grade.

Fascinating to see how price rises parabolically when the population tails off....and conversely, see a big drop in the same grade when you switch Type coins from rare to scarce.

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Posted (edited)

Regarding my Adolph Menjou coin and catalog discussion in the other thread.....does anybody recall seeing any coins (including Saints) with "Menjou" listed on the label ? 

I know he died decades before the TPGs came into existence but he did have some really top-pop or near top-pop coins (at least at one time).

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...not that i am aware of...the 3-4 menjou coins i have owned were listed as ex-menjou coins in their pedigrees, many of his coins were purchased from famous collections n many ended up in other to be famous collections, he was keen on rarities....if the pedigree documentation is well grounded i see no reason that the tpgs wouldnt label one of his coins as ex-menjou....one of my menjou coins came with the original menjou envelope...many of the circa 1950-60-70s auction catalogs profusely listed the coin pedigrees if known n often came with the previous collection envelopes i.e. brand, atwater, clark etc etc....just as many of my current coins have retained their pedigree documentation i.e. eliasberg, norweb, garrett etc etc....the tpgs r very strict on their acceptance of pedigree documentation, a strong audit trail required...auction house documentation useful, photo comparison to early cataloged coins if available very helpful.....

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Posted (edited)
On 3/12/2022 at 9:14 AM, zadok said:

...not that i am aware of...the 3-4 menjou coins i have owned were listed as ex-menjou coins in their pedigrees, many of his coins were purchased from famous collections n many ended up in other to be famous collections, he was keen on rarities....if the pedigree documentation is well grounded i see no reason that the tpgs wouldnt label one of his coins as ex-menjou....one of my menjou coins came with the original menjou envelope...many of the circa 1950-60-70s auction catalogs profusely listed the coin pedigrees if known n often came with the previous collection envelopes i.e. brand, atwater, clark etc etc....just as many of my current coins have retained their pedigree documentation i.e. eliasberg, norweb, garrett etc etc....the tpgs r very strict on their acceptance of pedigree documentation, a strong audit trail required...auction house documentation useful, photo comparison to early cataloged coins if available very helpful.....

Thanks Zad...unfortunately I had just been born when Mr. Menjou passed so no chance to buy his coins in the years or immediate decades after his death.  Didn't even know about him until I read that he had a bunch of the MCMVII HR's....but my mother knew him from the movies (she's a big TCM fan :)).

Have NOT seen any estimate of how many of the MCMVII HR's he may have had at one time, but I think I may have read that he had as many as 150 of them (or was it 50 ?)?  That would have been a nice chunk of change in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's.  But he feared economic collapse and inflation and a collapsing dollar so putting Big $$$ into pricey gold coins (he had other non-Saints as I listed in the Auction Catalog Thread) doesn't surprise me.

Interesting fact:  he and Katherine Hepburn disliked one another. xD

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 3/12/2022 at 10:40 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Thanks Zad...unfortunately I had just been born when Mr. Menjou passed so no chance to buy his coins in the years or immediate decades after his death.  Didn't even know about him until I read that he had a bunch of the MCMVII HR's....but my mother knew him from the movies (she's a big TCM fan :)).

Have NOT seen any estimate of how many of the MCMVII HR's he may have had at one time, but I think I may have read that he had as many as 150 of them (or was it 50 ?)?  That would have been a nice chunk of change in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's.  But he feared economic collapse and inflation and a collapsing dollar so putting Big $$$ into pricey gold coins (he had other non-Saints as I listed in the Auction Catalog Thread) doesn't surprise me.

Interesting fact:  he and Katherine Hepburn disliked one another. xD

....im sure their animosity prob started from when they both were in "morning glory" he was fairly well established n she upcoming, they both had strong political opinions n not congruent ones, i believe at one time spencer tracy threathened him over comments he had made bout katherine as well...i doubt she was much of a forgiving type once she was offended...i believe adolphe bought $20G in rolls for various monetary reasons n his other coins more from a collectors perspective....

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On 3/12/2022 at 2:48 PM, zadok said:

....im sure their animosity prob started from when they both were in "morning glory" he was fairly well established n she upcoming, they both had strong political opinions n not congruent ones, i believe at one time spencer tracy threathened him over comments he had made bout katherine as well...i doubt she was much of a forgiving type once she was offended...i believe adolphe bought $20G in rolls for various monetary reasons n his other coins more from a collectors perspective....

As you know, he had 2000+ coins in that 1950 auction and the bulk of them were low-denom coins selling for $15 or less.

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If anybody saw an article on an early 1920's Saint in COIN WEEK in the last few days....let me know.  I got an alert on my smartphone but accidentally swiped it away when I meant to click on it.  It was for a 1920 or 1920-S or a 1921 or something like that (I think).

I never get these alerts so it stood out....but I can't find any article in recent days on the Coin Week website.

For all I know, it was something from weeks or months ago, but who knows. 

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Posted (edited)
On 2/26/2022 at 1:15 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

1926-D vs. 1927-D:  Re-read the Commentary sections in the book regarding how these 2 coins "flipped" in the rarity rankings in the late-1950's.  It's an interesting story, and RWB does a great job of primary research to give readers the nitty-gritty.

The 1946 FCC Boyd Catalog by Kosoff & Kreisberg noted that at the time the 1926-D was #2 in the Saint series based on "....contacts with some of our finest cabinets."  Not a bad source of information at the time, but largely anectdotal and based on memories, albeit from experts presumably with no incentive to lie or give inaccurate information.  But no TPGs...no tabulated data on the internet....etc.  Just "informed opinion."

A 1949 sale of a 1926-D hit $2,500 -- if there are higher-priced sales of Saints up to that time, even the high-end expected for a 1933 Saint that never got off the ground -- I can't find it.  I'll keep looking in the book as it is voluminous.

But a few years later, once a few tiny hoards came back to the States from Europe, the price had fallen to about $500 for a top-quality 1926-D (The "Lima" Coin, MS-66+ CAC today).

Meanwhile, no more 1927-D's came back from Europe...other rarities kept seeing a few more here-and-there hoards from Europe or S/Central America....and then by the end of the decade more-or-less the 1927-D had moved to the top of the rarity rankings and the 1926-D and 1926-S (among others) had fallen a few rungs each.

1926-D:  The 1950 Menjou Catalog states previous high-profile auctions did NOT have this coin.  It was estimated to go for $2,500 but sold for $2,000.

1924-S:  Menjou Catalog calls it the rarest of all double eagles, ".....there are perhaps less than 5 specimens extant."  The estimate was $2,250 and it sold for $2,000.

Not long after the 1950 Menjou Auction, small hoards started to come back from Europe and the population numbers for each coin swelled.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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1928 Elyria, OH Hoard of 1928 Saints:  Roger, with 25 of the 1928's found in an original Double Eagle bag, have you ever heard anybody muse about the possibility that they could have been the remaining 10% of the loot/split of the stolen bag of 250 1928 Saint DEs ?

"....Breen may have confused the 1931-D group with a hoard of 1928 double eagles (25 pieces in an original bank bag) that surfaced in 1985 in Elyria, Ohio."

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On 3/18/2022 at 7:43 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

1928 Elyria, OH Hoard of 1928 Saints:  Roger, with 25 of the 1928's found in an original Double Eagle bag, have you ever heard anybody muse about the possibility that they could have been the remaining 10% of the loot/split of the stolen bag of 250 1928 Saint DEs ?

"....Breen may have confused the 1931-D group with a hoard of 1928 double eagles (25 pieces in an original bank bag) that surfaced in 1985 in Elyria, Ohio."

Nope....

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On 3/18/2022 at 10:28 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Does anybody here have David Akers' book, United States Gold Patterns, 1836-1907 ?

I am wondering if the book includes the Saint patterns from 1907.

It is missing the $10 and Pratt patterns. I discovered the $10 while working in the Smithsonian collection. John Mercanti found the $5 SG hubs in the Philadelphia Mint. Both discoveries were preceded by my location of documentation describing them. In these instances, the search for relevant contemporary written material allowed the prompt location of physical artifacts.

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On 3/19/2022 at 10:14 AM, RWB said:

It is missing the $10 and Pratt patterns. I discovered the $10 while working in the Smithsonian collection. John Mercanti found the $5 SG hubs in the Philadelphia Mint. Both discoveries were preceded by my location of documentation describing them. In these instances, the search for relevant contemporary written material allowed the prompt location of physical artifacts.

So there are no mentions of Saints in this book ?

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