Headline, March27, 2014



The story goes that one night at a dinner party, President Theodore Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens  commiserated over the low state of American coinage.

President Roosevelt declared that America deserved a coin  "'worthy of the ancients"'  and commissioned the sculptor to design it.

Saint-Gaudens created a high relief figure of  Liberty,  using as a model his statuesque mistress   -who also modelled for the allegorical figure leading General Sherman's horse, across from the Plaza hotel in Manhattan.

The relief was so pronounced, according to David Tripp, that to make a single coin, nine blows of the mint's press were required at seventy tons of pressure. The relief was so high, in fact, that the coins didn't stack properly:

And it was immediately clear that bank's would be able to count them accurately. "It's not like any coin you've ever seen,"  Tripp says. "It was undone by its majesty".

The coin was redesigned twice, first in a high relief version requiring only three or five blows and then in a low relief version with an additional modification that substituted  Arabic numerals  for Roman numerals in the date.

This last version was minted until  1933,  when another President Roosevelt brought an end to the gold standard. Of the original  Ultra High Relief coins, only eighteen or nineteen are known to exist.

One of these exceptionally pieces   -some years ago-  was offered by Sotheby's as part of the legendary collection of Texas Oilman H. Jeff Browning. The catalog estimate was between  $600,000  and  $900,000       

 So, let me scribe a bit more on details and history......And what is the best possible condition?  Jot this down  -it may be on the final.

In an attempt to bring some level of standardization and methodology to coin collecting, dealers came up with  1-to-70  system to establish conditions.

Up to level 60, coins were circulated and are worn to some degree, and the higher the number the better the condition. Starting at 60, coins are uncirculated but may have been transported:

In sacks with other coins and will have some marks. One of those 1876  $20 coins with a rating of  60  will double in value from S340  to well over  $600. And from there to  70, each step up the ladder brings what Trip calls:

"Quantum Leaps in value".  A 63  might be worth  $7,500  on up to a hundred grand or more for a virtually perfect example. Tripp warns that this elaborate system is more subjective than scientific, especially in the top ten-gradations.

"Things like lustre, color, even eye appeal are taken into account," he says, "so a lot depends on the eye of the beholder."

Gold coins were minted by the millions starting with the discovery of gold in California and continuing well into the twentieth century. These coins came in $5, $10, and $20 denominations, but on the theory that simpler is better for a beginning coin collector, let's cut to the choice.

Though people track all sorts of coins, in silver as well as gold, the $20 gold piece,  a.k.a.  the Double Eagle, is where the glamour is.

And no single coin in America,  and perhaps in the world, is more glamorous that what's known in the trade as the  190 Ultra Relief Double Eagle, designed by the great American sculpture Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

O' boy.....given this history and prices, dabblers of small and tiny amounts seem fated to scrounge around  flea markets  for  1943  zinc pennies. Oops! Oops!

But the good news is that a good condition High Relief Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle,  of which  12,500  were made, can still probably be found for less than $15,000. Which means:

That even a novice with a limited bankroll could have a very good coin as the centrepiece of a........ !  beginning collection  !.

The Post and the Honour will continue in the Future:

With respectful dedication to Mother Earth. Hope to have all its inhabitants on the  -World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

"' How Common "'

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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