By Chris Bulfinch – Numismatist, Stack’s Bowers ……
The “Renaissance of American Coinage” hit a snag almost as soon as it began.
The $20 gold double eagle–bearing what many agree to be one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, designs to ever appear on American coinage–proved impossible to strike at the intended relief, which was higher than any previous United States Mint product intended for circulation. A minimum of three to five strikes were required to adequately bring up the design and the resulting coins proved impossible to stack properly, limiting their commercial usefulness.
In the face of this inefficiency and impracticality, the relief was lowered after 11,367 coins were struck, creating a rarity that is often the crown jewel of a collection.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is offering a freshly-graded, wonderfully original Wire Rim MCMVII High Relief double eagle as lot 2093 in the Rarities Night session of our June 2023 Showcase Auction. Graded MS-65 by PCGS, this coin will certainly appeal to advanced gold specialists and anyone who appreciates the early history of this popular American series.
The Philadelphia Mint used two different collars to strike High Relief double eagles in 1907, resulting in the Flat Rim and Wire Rim subtypes. The latter is more common; U.S. gold expert David Akers estimated that between two-thirds and three-quarters of all High Reliefs have a Wire Rim.
Our cataloger’s described the process resulting in the two rim types:
“During striking, if the collar was not sufficiently tightened, metal would be pushed to where the coin’s edge and collar meet. Even the slightest misalignment of the obverse and reverse dies would force metal into the gap, forming the “fin” (as the Mint referred to this feature).”
This double eagle typifies the strong strike and sculptural quality characteristic of High Reliefs; three or more strikes tended to ensure that the design’s details were clear. Our cataloger also states:
“This captivating Gem possesses the quality and eye appeal so eagerly sought for this classic gold issue, yet which most survivors fail to deliver. Satin to softly frosted surfaces are further adorned with vivid color in deep golden-honey. Wisps of reddish-rose toning enliven both sides. Expectably full in striking detail for the type, with remarkably smooth, highly appealing surfaces that will please even the most discerning gold enthusiast.”
This piece will surely attract strong bids from gold specialists looking for a beautiful example of the series deemed by many the pinnacle of American coinage.
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For more information on our June 2023 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo, or to consign your numismatic items to this or another of our upcoming auctions, call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].