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Long Beard's Blog

21 Jul 2021

Two Masters, One Masterpiece

Exonumia | Long Beard

As a collector, or hoarder as I'm referred to after forty-seven years at this thing, there have always been those coins which are only but a dream to one day hold in my hands. The 1804 dollar, the 1870 s quarter and so forth. Then there are those with low mintage totals, the 1916 d Mercury dime or the 1909 s VDB Lincoln, largely out of reach to most. Even in grades of good or very-good 8 they are quite pricey, unappealing against the others within the series. Over the past few months I've shifted to similar coins, low mintage or low survival figures, that are by definition true rarities. Coins with mintages one-tenth that of the mentioned 1916 d dime for an astoundingly low price compared to that in a grade of about-good. One coin in particular recently acquired in a perfect proof 70 ultra cameo for $264.00. The 2016 Winged Liberty. Enjoy!




"I think the state of our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness. Would it be possible, without asking permission of Congress, to employ a man like Saint-Gaudens to give us a coinage which would have some beauty?". This was the simple, to the point message from President Theodore Roosevelt to Treasury Secretary Leslie Mortimer Shaw in 1904. This very letter, and a persistent President, brought about some of the best coin designs ever to leave the United States Mint. Of which, Augusta Saint-Gaudens created two circulation strike coins before his death in 1907.


The first of Saint-Gaudens' designs to be accepted were that of the gold ten dollar eagle struck in the same year Roosevelt wrote to Shaw. The second, the gold twenty-dollar Double Eagle. A design few would argue is the greatest ever created. However, the coin which we are all familiar with is not the original design. One which President Roosevelt accepted as it fit his vision of what U.S. coinage should be. Roosevelt had become so impressed with the high relief Roman coinage on display at the Smithsonian that he pressured the Mint to make Saint-Gaudens Winged Liberty design a reality. The design, as depicted in the images with exception to an oval Union Shield replacing the olive branch in Liberty's left hand, quickly proved difficult if not impossible to achieve. With such fine detail in the design, striking in high-relief became problematic with the presses at the time. Trial dies were struck no less than nine times to achieve even a close high relief as envisioned. The design was simply not coinable.




Enter the National Park Foundation. 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. Congress had already passed legislation, Public Law 113-291 on December 19, 2014 authorizing commemoratives who's surcharge proceeds would go to the foundation. They, however, were in the process of another commemorative to be issued directly through authorized vendors. Through their research they discovered the original plaster galvano of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle within the Mint Cabinet at the Philadelphia Mint. Saint-Guadens having a home in Cornish, New Hampshire listed as a national historical site only helped with the decision.




Who better to create a true work of art from the master sculptor than John Mercanti, 12th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. A master in his own right. Mister Mercanti began working from the original designs, modifying them slightly yet subtly to add his own personal touch creating what Saint-Gaudens himself would approve. With the design completed, the prestigious British Royal Mint was contracted to strike these masterpieces since they employ some of the best presses capable of high-relief striking. There are two options available, one ounce silver round with a mintage of 10,000 or a one ounce gold with a mintage of 1,000. Although these are non-monetized by any nation, they possess the purity of metal which the British Royal Mint is known for. There is also a true 1907 original design, by David Car of Moonlight Mint. Which your's truly is pondering upon.








Comments

Kepi

Level 6

Beautiful Coin indeed! Classic design...great blog! ; )

coinsbygary

Level 5

St-Gaudens is a man of his time. There will never be another like him. His bold designs are second to none! It would have been nice to see his rendition of winged Liberty become a coin. This medal is the next best thing! Congratulations!

Longstrider

Level 6

Daniel Carr of Moonlight Mint is a very controversial man. I am a fan. Some feel he is a counterfeiter. Beautiful coin. Thanks.

Kepi

Level 6

I too am a big fan of Daniel Carr and Moonlight Mint! ; )

Long Beard

Level 5

Somehow he worked out a deal with the Treasury Department to produce original designs in the years none were struck by the United States Mint. So long as he does not pass them off as genuine. I myself find them highly collectible.

Golfer

Level 5

Very nice coin to own and a low mintage makes it even better. I try to look for coins like that now. Attractive low mintage coins can be found and are nice to have.

Mokie

Level 6

We'll never see coins like that again, the computer has replaced the skilled engraver. Sad!!! Thanks for sharing LB, its a beauty.

CoinHunter

Level 5

Nice coin and story!

Mike

Level 7

Great coin. Great story. It's a beauty that's for sure. Congrats on picking it up. The gold is very expensive. . But with a mintage of 1000 you would expect it. It's a great coin with great history!!

Long Beard

Level 5

The history behind the design was the sole reason for buying this one. The David Carr with a shield like Saint-Gaudens original plaster is tough to find, but I'm looking.

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