1907 $20 J-1778/1907 Sans Serif Edge PR (PCGS# 81954)

2012 August 2-5 US Coins Signature Auction- Philadelphia #1173

  • Auctioneer:
    Heritage Auctions
  • Lot Number:
    5434
  • Grade:
    PR58
  • Price:
    $1,057,500.00
Lot Description
1907 $20 Ultra High Relief, Sans Serif Edge, Judd-1907, Pollock-2001, R.8 PR58 PCGS Secure. "I think it would be best to know at once if there are not some inflexible modern requirements that necessitate extreme flatness." Augustus Saint-Gaudens to Treasury Secretary Leslie Mortier Shaw, January 2, 1906 This excerpt from Augustus Saint-Gaudens' letter establishes the tension that would carry forth for the next two years through the design and striking phases of the new twenty dollar gold coin. This tension would persist even after the sculptor's death in early August 1907. "Extreme flatness" is certainly not what Saint-Gaudens or the president wanted. From their first discussions in December 1904, it was understood that Saint-Gaudens would seek to imitate the extreme high relief of the coins from Ancient Greece. But he also understood that there were certain "practical limits to the relief of circulating coins" as Roger Burdette stated in his trilogy on his Renaissance of American Coinage. In Roosevelt's return letter to Saint-Gaudens, it is obvious he had spoken to Secretary Shaw about his desire to have a redesigned coinage in high relief: {blockquote}"Shaw was really very nice about it. Of course he thinks I am a mere crack-brained lunatic on the subject, but he said with great kindness that there was always a certain number of gold coins that had to be stored up in vaults, and that there was no earthly objection to having those coins as artistic as the Greeks could desire. (I am paraphrasing his words, of course.) I think it will seriously increase the mortality among the employees of the mint at seeing such a desecration, but they will perish in a good cause!"{/blockquote} The tension continued when Mint Director George Roberts replied to Secretary Shaw, giving him a point-by-point reasoned response why modern coinage must be in low relief and suitable for a single strike by the press. He concluded by urging Saint-Gaudens to visit the Mint and "carefully examin
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