Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s are pleased to announce the consignment of the finest certified 1907 Ultra High Relief (UHR) double eagle, arguably the most beautiful coin design ever struck by the U.S. Mint. Graded and encapsulated by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) as Proof-69, this example last sold in the June 2012 Stack’s Bowers Baltimore sale for $2,760,000.
The historical importance of this classic type cannot be overstated, and whenever an example is offered in auction, it creates excitement among numismatists. The story of the creation of this rarity has been told often in books and auction catalogs. In short: The coin, minted in 1907, has the date expressed in Roman numerals as MCMVII. It is one of about 20 coins with Ultra High Relief or sculptured detail. The story goes back to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 when he employed Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the coinage. The artist, working in his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire (now a National Historic Site), began with the $20 gold double eagle, the largest denomination gold coin.
For the obverse he created a bold image of Miss Liberty in the figure of Victory, striding forward holding a torch and palm branch with the U.S. Capitol in the distance. For the reverse, an eagle in flight was sculpted. In early 1907 about 20 coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint and given to the president and dignitaries. Due to striking difficulties, the relief was lowered to what is referred to as the High Relief, and 11,250 examples were struck for general circulation. The “ultra” high relief of the devices was inspired by the ancient Greek coins that President Roosevelt had admired in museums.
Today, several of the MCMVII Ultra High Relief coins are in museums, including one on display at the Smithsonian, and time and again surveys among numismatists have rated this as America’s most beautiful coin design. It is ranked as number seven of the Greatest 100 U.S. Coins in the popular coffee-table reference of the same title. Only rarely is one available at auction, and its appearance inspires great enthusiasm from coin collectors and those who appreciate fine art. The UHR double eagle has always had a great allure, and has often broken records when sold at auction. In 1974, when we sold the Ulmer Collection, his example was the first coin to sell for $200,000 in auction.
“Stack’s Bowers Galleries has offered several Ultra High Relief double eagles over the years, and each time, they create much excitement and anticipation among collectors,” Lawrence R. Stack declared. “Among the famous examples are the Ulmer coin offered in 1974, the Eliasberg specimen in 1982, and most recently this example which we last offered in June 2012.”
“This is truly an American masterpiece, a work of sculpted art, as much as it is a classic numismatic rarity,” added Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers. “We are pleased to be able to again offer this wonderful piece, not only to our list of clients, but to the clients of Sotheby’s.”
The coin will be available for lot viewing in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York City gallery April 29-May 15, 2015, and on exhibit at Sotheby’s May 16-19, 2015. It will be up for auction on May 20. For more information or to schedule a lot-viewing appointment, please call (800) 458-4646 (West Coast) or (800) 566-2580 (East Coast), or email [email protected].