There are three distinct types of 1908 Double Eagle
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38 posts in this topic

Many collector have a 1908 double eagle as a type coin or as part of a short date set of Saint-Gaudens double eagles. However, few realize that there are three design/master hub combinations for the year.

The most commonly seen is Type I - Short rays on obverse, fuzzy obverse stars, no motto on reverse. This is nearly identical to the original 1907 low relief coin. Philadelphia and Denver only.

Type II - Long rays on obverse, sharp obverse stars, no motto on reverse. This combines a new obverse hub created by Charles Barber with the reverse of Type I. Philadelphia and Denver.

Type III - Long rays on obverse, sharp obverse stars, motto on reverse. This type pairs Barber's earlier, improved obverse with a new reverse adding the Congressionally mandated religious motto just above the sun. Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.

Most "hoard" coins are Type I, which accounts for their somewhat "soft" appearance.

There are lost of photos out there. Can members post pictures of the three varieties from their collections?

:)

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I have no pictures to contribute, but I did check the Whitman Double Eagle book to see if it had any mention of this. It does mention the different hubs in a short couple of  paragraphs:

"...The obverse rays are shorter than they would be on the Type 6 [with motto] coins. Around the ends of the hair details there are incuse lines, to increase the relief. Certain details of the stars and leaves are somewhat blurry, due to the reducing of the relief on the model.

In 1908, during the coinage of the No Motto...coins, the hub was modified. The rays were lengthened and certain features were sharpened, including the stars and leaves. There are no incuse areas around the hair details now, the letters in LIBERTY are thinner and have larger serifs, and the second star to the right of the Y is slightly doubled." (A Guidebook of Double Eagle Gold Coins, Whitman Publishing)

This is the kind of thing that a casual type collector would probably never realize. Thanks for adding to my knowledge.

Edited by Just Bob
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Yes, the above illustrated book is far more detailed than the Whitman product. It should answer most questions and provide interesting details within its 550 pages. (Published by Heritage Auctions/Ivy Press.)

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

It's an excellent book, one that prompted NGC to add several varieties to the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle roster at VarietyPlus.

I'm aware of the three 1908 obverse hubs, but no customers have ever requested these varieties. I suppose the cost of the coins has something to do with that.

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I suspect much of the absence of type indication for 1908 comes from the long-held Breen belief that never went beyond the superficial "long ray-short ray." Thus, Breen had no explanation for what the Engraver did or the general improvements made. (Breen was a primary deprecateor of Charles Barber, much to Breen's discredit.)

The SG DE book was written with the understanding that it is a beginning description of varieties. It might take a decade or more for collectors and researchers to uncover sufficient new (and incorrect) varieties for another edition to become possible.

Edited by RWB
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Type III - Long rays on obverse, sharp obverse stars, motto on reverse. This type pairs Barber's earlier, improved obverse with a new reverse adding the Congressionally mandated religious motto just above the sun. Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.

Here's a Type III from Denver.

IMG_0170.thumb.jpg.caa873a1d6dfad0209c73053ca4e99c2.jpg

IMG_0171.thumb.jpg.42b0f092a0d9f84833985f23d0688a53.jpg 

In hand, it has a slight tint to it, unlike any other gold coin I have.  Sort of a violet tint.

Bob

 

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Here are my examples, since this is the first I've heard of the differing varieties, I can't be sure which I have, but feel free to speculate based on my crappy photos!

 

1908pnm20dobv.jpg

1908pnm20drev.jpg

1908dnm20dobv.jpg

1908dnm20drev.jpg

1908p20dobv.jpg

1908p20drev.jpg

1908d20dobv.jpg

1908d20drev.jpg

1908s20dobv.jpg

1908s20drev.jpg

Edited by jtryka
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14 hours ago, jtryka said:

Here are my examples, since this is the first I've heard of the differing varieties, I can't be sure which I have, but feel free to speculate based on my crappy photos!

 

1908pnm20dobv.jpg

1908pnm20drev.jpg

1908dnm20dobv.jpg

1908dnm20drev.jpg

1908p20dobv.jpg

1908p20drev.jpg

1908d20dobv.jpg

1908d20drev.jpg

1908s20dobv.jpg

1908s20drev.jpg

Type two and three

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9 minutes ago, numisport said:

Roger your gold book does not appear to be available at Collectons or Wizard. Where can I purchase it ? Is the Tripp book factual in your opinion ?

The Double Eagle book is only available from Heritage Auctions (HA.com). Be sure to order the one with my name on the upper right cover. A photo of the cover is posted in another Saint-Gaudens gold thread.

The books by Tripp and Frankel are works of fiction based on a limited set of USSS reports, scattered Mint documents and considerable speculation. Alison Frankel's book is, in my opinion, the better of the two and has some real research in it (the author has substantial experience doing legal writing and research).

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5 minutes ago, RWB said:

The Double Eagle book is only available from Heritage Auctions (HA.com). Be sure to order the one with my name on the upper right cover. A photo of the cover is posted in another Saint-Gaudens gold thread.

The books by Tripp and Frankel are works of fiction based on a limited set of USSS reports, scattered Mint documents and considerable speculation. Alison Frankel's book is, in my opinion, the better of the two and has some real research in it (the author has substantial experience doing legal writing and research).

Yep I see it at Heritage. Thanks !

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37 minutes ago, numisport said:

Yep I see it at Heritage. Thanks !

It's spectacular.  Only thing is it should be in hard cover for the $$$ it costs....and it's a thick book which means being in hardcover would make it easier to hold.  But those are my only quibbles.

Roger's work/data on the Saint-Gaudens DE is spectacular.

I'm up to Page 45....xD 

 

 

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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57 minutes ago, numisport said:

Roger your gold book does not appear to be available at Collectons or Wizard. Where can I purchase it ? Is the Tripp book factual in your opinion ?

The Mint and U.S. Attorneys slimed Roger in part because he didn't do numismatics 24/7 as his "primary" job at the time but more as a backup job/hobby despite his voluminous research (books, journals, articles, etc.)....meanwhile, Tripp has written 1 book to my knowledge and does not publish articles or research (unless you count Sotheby's catalogs as published material).

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I just read this part about the 3 types of 1908 NM's in Roger's book (Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles)......very interesting and gives me something to look for when/if I get a 1908 No Motto.

I also found it interesting to read about the Gillio/Wells Fargo Hoard.  Looks like the MS65's came out at about 4x the price of gold back in 1997, or double the level for existing 1908 NM MS65's at the time.  Paying that inflated price meant lagging gains even as gold is up 5-fold since.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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2 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

I also found it interesting to read about the Gillio/Wells Fargo Hoard.  Looks like the MS65's came out at about 4x the price of gold back in 1997, or double the level for existing 1908 NM MS65's at the time.  Paying that inflated price meant lagging gains even as gold is up 5-fold since.

Did they sell because of heavy promotion, or were they just popular with buyers because of the name?

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1 hour ago, Just Bob said:

Did they sell because of heavy promotion, or were they just popular with buyers because of the name?

Probably both, based on what I have read (I wasn't into Saints at the time) and similar hype with the SS Central America and other hoards/finds.  One of the vets here -- maybe Roger -- can chime in, because I don't recall how much hype there was at the time.

The 1908 NM's weren't rare before the find, as was the case with the 1857-S Liberty's and the SS Central America.  It was also pre-internet when they were found and when the last batch got sold in 1999 the internet was still in its infancy.

Even the name is deceiving because they were NOT FOUND in a Wells Fargo bank...they were kept in a WF bank for safe-keeping once Gillio bought the coins.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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The real hoard was much larger than the promotions implied. Collectors ate a lot of bologna & cheese sandwiches at the time.

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52 minutes ago, RWB said:

The real hoard was much larger than the promotions implied. Collectors ate a lot of bologna & cheese sandwiches at the time.

Their were 19,900 coins....are you saying that information wasn't divulged at the time ?   Hard to believe they could keep that secret, even in 1997.

Or are you saying they just kept dribbling out coins and not focusing on the huge increase in supply ?

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1 hour ago, RWB said:

It's in the book. :)

Well, you really didn't give specifics on pages 102-104 which is where I presume you were referencing....if you mention it later in the book, I'm not there yet :).....the book mentions they sold the 65's in 1997 and then over the next 2 years they got rid of the higher-rated stuff.    Which is actually how it should have been done, rather than dump them all at once.  Let them out over time....save the best for last.  Gold price fell a bit, but the higher-rated stuff wouldn't trade off bullion, anyway.

The price guide in the book for 1997-99 is pretty flat for 1908 NM MS65's.  So I can't see any drop if one occurred.

Too bad Coin World or CoinWeek don't publish retrospectives about major events like that.  Would be interesting to see what they said 23 years ago.  xD

Edited by GoldFinger1969
forgot sentences
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12 hours ago, RWB said:

Look in Chapter 6. Very few people would talk about the hoard, so there is limited first/second hand information.

I will.....but that's Page 588 so I will probably be getting there in about 2 weeks or so.  Unless I decide to cheat and skip ahead....xD

And you're right....could have used an Index or Chapter thingy....had to skim pages before I could find the different Chapters. :)  But a minor quibble.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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I started collecting Saints a couple years after the hoard came out, it was a lot of marketing and non-disclosure of key facts (like Wells Fargo lent their name to the hoard, but it was a private hoard stored in safe deposit boxes at Wells Fargo, but add that name and it would be easy to imagine they were discovered in the back of some vault or on a stage coach somewhere in the old west.  The reality was that I don't think these were much different than many of the European bank hoards, but they were of extremely high quality with a large number graded higher than MS-65, but ultimately all common date.

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