IRVINE, Calif. (April 23, 2015) — Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Sotheby’s are pleased to announce the consignment of the finest certified 1907 Ultra High Relief double eagle, arguably the most beautiful coin design ever struck by the U.S. Mint. Graded and encapsulated by the Professional Coin Grading Service as Proof-69, this example last sold in the June 2012 Stack’s Bowers Baltimore sale for $2,760,000.
The historical importance of this classic type cannot be overstated, and whenever an example is offered in auction, it creates excitement among numismatists. The story of the creation of this rarity has often been told in books and auction catalogs. In short: The coin, minted in 1907, has the date expressed in Roman numerals as MCMVII. It is one of about 20 coins with Ultra High Relief or sculptured detail. The story goes back to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 when he employed Augustus Saint-Gaudens, America’s most famous sculptor, to redesign the coinage. The artist, working in his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire (now a National Historic Site), began with the $20 gold double eagle, the largest denomination gold coin.
For the obverse he created a bold image of Miss Liberty in the figure of Victory, striding forward holding a torch and palm branch with the U.S. Capitol in the distance. For the reverse, an eagle in flight was sculpted. In early 1907 about 20 coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint and given to the president and dignitaries. Due to striking difficulties, the relief was lowered to what is referred to as the High Relief, and 11,250 examples were struck for general circulation. The “ultra” high relief of the devices was inspired by the ancient Greek coins that President Roosevelt had admired in museums.
Today, several of the MCMVII Ultra High Relief coins are in museums, including one on display at the Smithsonian, and time and again surveys among numismatists have rated this as America’s most beautiful coin design. It is ranked as number 7 of the Greatest 100 U.S. Coins in the popular coffee-table reference of the same title. Only rarely is one available at auction, and its appearance inspires great enthusiasm from coin collectors and those who appreciate fine art. The Ultra High Relief double eagle has always had a great allure, and has often broken records when sold at auction. In 1974, when we sold the Ulmer Collection, his example was the first coin to sell for $200,000 in auction.
“Stack’s Bowers Galleries has offered several Ultra High Relief double eagles over the years, and each time, they create much excitement and anticipation among collectors,” Lawrence R. Stack declared. “Among the famous examples are the Ulmer coin offered in 1974, the Eliasberg specimen in 1982, and most recently this example which we last offered in June 2012.”
“This is truly an American masterpiece, a work of sculpted art, as much as it is a classic numismatic rarity,” added Brian Kendrella, president of Stack’s Bowers. “We are pleased to be able to again offer this wonderful piece, not only to our list of clients, but to the clients of Sotheby’s.”
The coin will be available for lot viewing in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York City gallery April 29-May 15, 2015, and on exhibit at Sotheby’s May 16-19, 2015. For more information or to schedule a lot-viewing appointment, please call 800.458.4646 (West Coast) or 800.566.2580 (East Coast), or email [email protected].
About Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries conducts live, Internet and specialized auctions of rare U.S. and world coins and currency and ancient coins, as well as direct sales through retail and wholesale channels. The company’s 80-year legacy includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable United States coin and currency collections to ever cross an auction block — the John J. Ford, Jr., Collection, the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection, the Harry W. Bass, Jr., Collection, the Norweb Collection, the Cardinal Collection and the Battle Born Collection — to name just a few. World coin and currency collections include the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection of World Gold Coins, the Kroisos Collection, the Alicia and Sidney Belzberg Collection, the Wa She Wong Collection, the Guia Collection, the Thos. H. Law Collection, and the Robert O. Ebert Collection.
Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin, the 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar graded Specimen-66 (PCGS) that fetched over $10 million, as part of their sale of the famed Cardinal Collection. The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, Wolfeboro, Hong Kong, and Paris. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is an Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including American Numismatic Association events, the New York International Numismatic Convention, the Professional Numismatists Guild New York Invitational, the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring, Summer, and Winter Expos, and its April and August Hong Kong Auctions.