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The business strike gold mintages of 1902 for both eagles and double eagles are curiously low. The 1902 eagles saw a production of 82,400 business strikes, while the year before in Philadelphia there were 1.72 million coins manufactured. For 1902 twenty dollar gold pieces the mintage was even more startling: 31,140 examples, down from 111,000 coins the year before and more than 1.8 million in 1900.
Against this backdrop, the proof emissions of the year appear slender, indeed. A total of 113 and 114 eagles and double eagles, respectively, were produced in 1902. The Mint also officially began fiddling with different proof finishes for gold, an experimentation that would continue sporadically for another decade. While previous proof gold had featured brilliantly mirrored fields with frosty devices, in this year the Mint introduced a surface that was consistently fully mirrored, without the cameo contrast produced by mint-frosted devices. Breen's Proof Encyclopedia, in an easily missed note, says, 'From now through 1907, devices are semi-brilliant on all gold denominations, not frosty.' The Loewinger proof gold reference occasionally calls the finish 'satiny or semi-brilliant.'
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