(modified by Charles E. Barber)
Gold - 90%
Other - 10%
grains (±33.4 grams)
None (for Philadelphia)
above the date
The Philadelphia Mint continued tinkering
with the Proof finishes for these double eagle For
the meager mintage of 74 pieces, each coin was sandblasted
after striking to create finish that sparkled with
thousands of tiny facets. These 1912 Proofs are generally
dark i appearance, not as dark as the 1908 coins,
and have a similar dark yellow-gold color. This one
of the more available dates in Proof, with the number
reported in the population repor as 78, with some
obvious duplication as this number exceeds the number
struck. As a dat the 1912 double eagle is one of the
more available issues and ranks eighth of the 10 Proc
1912 Saint Gaudens $20 PR67 NGC. The
U.S. Mint first made matte proof gold coins in 1908.
Despite earlier criticisms from the collecting fraternity
and collector publications such as The Numismatist
of the matte proofs, after a temporary switch to the
Roman Finish or Satin Finish gold treatments in 1909
and 1910, the Mint reverted in 1911 and subsequent
years to the much-maligned matte or sandblast finish.
The recent The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as
Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse Collection, published
in 2006 by Ivy Press, notes of the 1912 issue that
"sandblast proofs are rare, regardless of date,
and these pieces were generally unappreciated at the
time of issue.
process of sandblasting these coins after striking
removed the 'bright' finish in the fields as seen
on the surfaces of the 1909 and 1910 issues. Instead,
thousands of tiny sparkling facets were present on
the surfaces of the coin, but the subtleties of this
new, European-inspired process were largely unappreciated
in this country. The unpopularity of the matte proofing
process is largely responsible for the smaller percentage
of survivors of proof double eagles of this design
when contrasted to those of the previous Liberty design."
The current NGC population data show a total of 53
proof 1912s graded, although there certainly appear
to be some statistical impossibilities occurring in
those data. Of the mintages recorded for the matte
proof twenties, 1908's is largest at 101 pieces, with
the 1911 at 100, the 1912 at 74, the 1914 at 70, the
1913 at 58, and the 1915 at 50. Yet the current combined
NGC-PCGS certified populations show 111 proofs of
the 1908 in all grades, or 110% of the original mintage!
The 1912 similarly shows a certified population of
75 pieces at both services, one coin more than the
total mintage nearly 100 years ago! The 1913 total
is even more ludicrous, with a combined total that
is 117% of the original proof mintage of 70 pieces.
Clearly, there exist numerous crossovers from one
service to another in the cited data, and it is undoubtedly
complicated by those who "crack out" and
resubmit the same coin numerous times in the hope
of obtaining a higher grade.
the already-pricey world of proof gold, the large
cluster of 29 PR66-graded pieces at NGC--or perhaps
submission occurrences is a better term--could just
possibly consist of 29 separate coins, although that
strains the credibility, as it would mean that 40%
of the original mintage survives in that grade at
just one of the two major services. The figure could
just as easily consist of seven separate coins--five
pieces submitted once each, and two coins each submitted
a dozen times. A glance at the PCGS online Price Guide
quickly confirms that a one-point jump in grade easily
equates to many tens of thousands of dollars.
In the Superb Gem grade
of PR67, there are 12 pieces (or submission events)
recorded at NGC, exceeded by only a single PR68 piece
(6/07). Again, a reasonable estimate is that probably
about 50% of those represent duplications. At PCGS
there are six coins certified PR66, with none finer.
This piece, then, is high within the Condition Census
for the issue, and probably one of the half-dozen
or so finest specimens known. This piece is tied in
numeric grade as well as aesthetic appeal with the
exceptional PR67 that was in the Morse Collection.
The fields on each side are smooth and untroubled,
with a consistent mustard-yellow coloration. Close
inspection fails to reveal any post-striking impairments
that would help identify this piece in future auction
appearances. An exceptional piece of matte proof gold.