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CAC-Approved Gem 1908 No Motto Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin Among Highlights at GreatCollections

CAC Coin at GreatCollections by CoinWeek ….
Tomorrow on Sunday, August 11, bidding ends for this 1908 Saint-Gaudens No Motto $20 double eagle gold coin, graded MS-66+ by PCGS and approved by CAC. The coin is just one of several highlights that will close at this week’s GreatCollections Certified Coin Auctions sale. At the time of publication, the price is at $3,500 USD after 33 bids. But how does this compare to prior public sales of the coin?

First, however, PCGS reports only 258 grading events at MS-66+. And while CAC gives a population of 304 No Motto 1908s at the MS-66 level, that number includes both PCGS and NGC and makes no distinction between MS-66 and MS-66+.

Records for CAC-approved 1908 No Motto double eagles graded MS-66+ by PCGS include two sales in the first half of this year. A specimen went for $3,600 in March and another one sold for $4,935 in January. Closer to the January price was a coin that sold in November 2018 for $4,800. Going back to 2017, we see two sales: one for $4,275 (August) and another for $4,100 (July). In December 2015, an example from the famous “Wells Fargo” hoard garnered $3,525 in a December sale.

To check GreatCollections for their sales involving 1908 and other No Motto Saint-Gaudens gold double eagles–both with and without CAC approval–search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.

The Most Beautiful U.S. Coin

The Saint-Gaudens double eagle is a 20-dollar gold coin, or double eagle, that was produced by the United States Mint from 1907 to 1933. The coin is named after its designer, the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who designed the obverse and reverse. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful of U.S. coins.

In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt sought to beautify American coinage and proposed Saint-Gaudens as an artist capable of the task. Although the sculptor is said to have had poor experiences with the Mint and its chief engraver Charles E. Barber, Saint-Gaudens accepted Roosevelt’s call. The work was subject to considerable delays, due to Saint-Gaudens’s declining health as well as difficulties arising from the high relief of his design. Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, after designing both the $10 gold eagle and the double eagle but before the designs were finalized for production.

After a few versions of the design for the double eagle proved too difficult to strike, Barber modified Saint-Gaudens’s design, lowering the relief so the coin could be struck with only one blow. When the coins were finally released in 1907, they proved controversial as they lacked the national motto “In God We Trust“, which President Roosevelt objected to on religious grounds. A Congress dominated by the political opposition intervened to require the motto’s use, and the motto began appearing on all American federal coinage in 1908.

Still, this meant that 1908 saw the release of numerous No Motto type coins, coming from both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. In fact, 4,271,551 No Motto double eagles dated 1908 were struck in Philadelphia alone, making it the second-most common issue of the entire series behind 1924.

Sometime in the 1990s, U.S. gold coin expert Ron Gillio discovered and managed the release of 9,900 Gem 1908 No Mottos that had been kept in a Wells Fargo bank vault in Nevada as part of a World War I debt payment. Known as the Wells Fargo Hoard, this new population of extremely nice coins increased interest in the date without making the issue quite too common in high Mint State.

Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagles were minted primarily for use in international trade until 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt (teddy’s cousin) issued Executive Order 6102 on April 5 of that year. The order effectively made private ownership of gold bullion and gold coins with no numismatic merit illegal.

CoinWeek
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Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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