1907 $20 J-1776/1905 PR68

CERTIFICATION#: -15477
PCGS#: 62238

Owner's Comments

Estimated grade. SAINT-GAUDENS INDIAN HEAD DOUBLE EAGLE. Gold, Lettered Edge, unique, often called “Teddy’s coin” among Pattern enthusiats.

Expert Comments

Ron Guth: In a letter dated January 13, 1932, Waldo Newcomer provided the following comments about the 1907 Indian Head $20 to coin dealer, Wayte Raymond (at the time, Raymond was handling Newcomer's pattern coins on consignment): "I called your attention specially to the piece which I have number 1740A [based on the Adams-Wooding reference] and wrapped separately.  This I consider not only the greatest rarity in my collection, believing it to be absolutely unique, but to me it is one of the most extraordinary and interesting pieces I have ever seen.  I have valued it at $10,000. and if it will not bring this you can retuirn it to me and I will keep it as a souvenir of my collection..."  Apparently, Raymond was unable to place the coin, as it was marked "R" [for Returned] on Raymond's copy of the Newcomer pattern inventory.  Newcomer continued his efforts to sell the coin, ultimately enlisting the services of Edgar Adams, who placed the coin with F.C.C. Boyd sometime after September 11, 1933 (after having already offered the piece to John W. Garrett and having been turned down).

On his inventory sheet, Newcomer typed: "Probably Unique, being owned by the engraver.  All others destroyed..."

Pedigree (courtesy of raregold.com)

The ownership history of this unique coin begins with a letter found by Mr. Carl Carlson, Curator of the Johns Hopkins University collection from Edgar Adams dated September 11, 1933 offering the coin to renowned numismatist John Work Garrett for $10,000. He indicated that he was acting on the behalf of Waldo C. Newcomer, well-known Baltimore collector, who had obtained the piece directly from the estate of Charles E. Barber, the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint when the piece was struck.

Garrett refused the offer, and the piece was then offered to and purchased by Fred C.C. Boyd, owner of Union News Company (which at one time operated newsstands in railroad stations and other locations). Boyd's wife sold the piece to Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg (Numismatic Gallery) for $1,500 shortly after Kosoff and Kreisberg sold the rest of Boyd's collection in 1944 and 1945.

They subsequently sold the coin to King Farouk of Egypt for slightly less than $10,000. After he was exiled in 1954, King Farouk's significant holdings of U.S. coins were sold by the Egyption government.

Abe Kosoff went to Cairo and bought the coin for the second time for 1,200 Egyptian Pounds or approximately $3,400. Kosoff sold the coin to Tennessee collector Dr. J.E. Wilkison in 1956 for $10,000.

Paramount International Coin Corporation (David Akers) purchased it along with many other gold patterns from Wilkison in 1973. Paramount then traded it to A-Mark Financial who sold it by private treaty to Maryland dealer Julian Leidman in 1979 for $500,000.

Hancock & Harwell Rare Coins purchased the coin in the ANA Auction in 1981 for $475,000, setting a record auction price at the time.

Several years later it was sold to a major North Eastern collector of Saint Gaudens coinage for a mid six figure price, where the coin now resides.

Sources and/or recommended reading:
Akers, D.W. (1975). United States Gold Patterns, p. 63. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Newcomer, W.C. (1932). Personal letter to Wayte Raymond dated January 13, 1932.

http://www.raregold.com/r-propj.htm

David Akers (1975/88): Description: Obverse. Head of Liberty facing left wearing a feathered Indian headdress. Around the head are 13 small, closely spaced stars. Below the bust, in very large letters, is the word LIBERTY. Reverse. Eagle flying to the left across the rays of the rising sun. On the sun, in Roman numerals, is the date, MCMVII. Above the eagle near the border is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Between the legend and the eagle is the denomination TWENTY DOLLARS. There are periods before and after every word of the legend and between the "letters" in the date.

Comments: The "Indian Head" design on the obverse is very similar to the design adopted for the regular issue eagle. However, this design was actually Saint-Gaudens' personal choice for the double eagle as he first indicated in a letter to President Roosevelt dated March 12, 1907. "I like so much the head with the headdress (and buy the way, I am very glad you suggested doing the head in that manner) that I should very much like to see it tried not only on the one cent piece but also on the twenty-dollar gold piece, instead of the figure of Liberty. I would like to have the mint make a die of the head for the gold coin also, and then a choice can be made between the two when completed. The only change necessary in the event of this being carried out will be the changing of the date from the Liberty side to the Eagle side of the coin." President Roosevelt responded to Saint-Gaudens on the 14th and informed him that he had directed that the dies be "done at once." In a letter of May 11, 1907 to the President, Saint-Gaudens again expressed his preference for the Indian Head design. "Indeed, as far as I am concerned, I should prefer seeing the head of Liberty in place of any figure of Liberty on the Twenty Dollar coin as well as on the One cent. If the idea appeals to you, I would refine the modelling [sic] of the head now that I have seen it struck in the small, so as to bring it in scale with the eagle." The President answered immediately. "I should be glad, if it is possible for you to do so if you would "refine" the head of Liberty; but I want to keep the figure of Liberty for at least one small issue of coins." Saint-Gaudens, in rapidly failing health (he died in August, 1907) wrote to the President for the final time on May 23, 1907. In that letter, he stated, "The majority of the people that I show the work to evidently prefer with you the figure of Liberty to the head of Liberty and that I shall not consider any further on the twenty Dollar gold coin." (Taxay, U.S. Mint and Coinage, p. 313.)

From the correspondence, it appears that the dies were prepared and the lone gold specimen of this beautiful pattern was struck between march 14 and May 23, 1907. The relief, although not as high as that on J-1778, is still considerably higher than on the so-called "high relief" double eagles that were struck in moderate quantities in 1907.

The only known specimen is owned by Paramount International Coin Corporation who purchased it from Dr. J.E. Wilkison in 1973. Wilkison had obtained it from Abe Kosoff in 1956 for $10,000 and Kosoff had acquired it for a client at the Farouk sale in 1954 for 1200 Egyptian pounds or approximately $3444.00. Prior to being in the possession of King Farouk, it was owned by F.C.C. Boyd. (Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg, who at that time formed the Numismatic Gallery in New York, purchased the pattern from Mrs. Boyd for $1500 in the 194o's and subsequently sold it to Farouk for slightly less than $10,000.)

The history of this unique pattern before its acquisition by Boyd has been a mystery to present-day numismatists, but recently Mr. Carl Carlson, Curator of the Johns Hopkins University collection, found a letter to John W. Garrett from Edgar Adams dated September 11, 1933. In that letter, Adams offered this pattern to Garrett for $10,000 indicating that he was acting on behalf of Waldo C. Newcomer who had obtained the piece directly from the estate of Charles E. Barber, the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint when the piece was struck. Garrett obviously refused the offer, and the piece was then offered to and purchased by Boyd.

Diameter: 34.00 millimeters Designer: Augustus Saint Gaudens Edge: Lettered
Mintage: 1 Weight: 33.43 grams Metal Content: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

Rarity and Survival Estimates

Grades Survival Estimate Numismatic Rarity Relative Rarity by Type Relative Rarity by Series
All Grades 1 R-10.0 1 / 3 TIE 1 / 10 TIE
60 or Better 1 R-10.0 1 / 3 TIE 1 / 10 TIE
65 or Better 1 R-10.0 1 / 3 1 / 10 TIE

Condition Census

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR69 PCGS estimated grade   See Narrative