Roosevelt's coin inspired by ancient Greece sells for $143,750
'While we hesitate to call any coin perfect, this is as close to perfection as we can remember...'
That's how the auctioneers' described the 1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim coin which emerged as the star lot (so-far) in Heritage Auction Galleries' ongoing FUN sale, being held between June 8-11.
The coin was one of the final examples - of only 12,367 pieces ever produced - struck in 1907, and designed by Saint-Gaudens who was commissioned by then-US President Theodore Roosevelt.
At the time, demand in the US for luxurious goods and imposing mansions was met by ambition among architects, sculptors and designers to reflect the country's growing wealth and cultural presence.
Naturally, this symbolism was especially relevant in the design of the nation's currency.
Roosevelt called on Saint-Gaudens so design several of the nation's coins with the same "high relief" seen on historic coins from ancient Greece.
Famously, Roosevelt insisted that production must begin, "...even if it takes all day and night to produce one coin."
Saint-Gaudens accepted the commission with some reluctance - over the past 15 years, he had clashed with the engraver Charles Barber on numerous occasions, often to his own detriment.
Nevertheless, on this occasion Saint-Gaudens had the president's full support. Roosevelt used his power to ensure the designer's ideas were fully-realised, and the rest is history.
On Thursday, another page in the coin's history has been written at Heritage's Florida sale.
This example was described by the auctioneers as "one of the finest examples stuck in December 1907... [a] magnificent design."
According to experts, the "perfect" coin's striking details are notable for their extreme sharpness, with no visible post-striking impairments upon its surface. As such, it carries a grading of MS67 by the NGC.
In the case of many other High Relief coins, which were struck many times on a hydraulic press, the tops of the letters on the upper reverse often blend into the upper rim. But not so here.
In the end, this exceptional piece of numismatic history sold for $143,750, including buyer's premium.
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