Roger Burdette's Saint Gaudens Double Eagles Book
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Regarding Chapter 4:

(1)  I didn't know that there was pressure from gold miners to raise the gold price to $40/oz. to improve profitability.  That kind of information gets skipped over when you have a macro view of the Gold Standard. 

When the US raised its price of fine gold, many western and Alaskan gold mines reopened because the owners could now make a profit. Huge amounts also flowed into the USA.

(2)  Didn't realize how few Saints (Liberty's too ?) actually circulated.

DE were seldom encountered in circulation except on the US and Canadian west coast (19th century).  The prevailing opinion in the late 1840s when they were proposed, was they were completely useless in getting gold to circulate in lieu of paper.

(3)  Die cracks and die breaks analysis was very informative.  Now I understand what they are, the differences, etc…. I suspect we don't have these problems today.

Die cracks still frequently occur. Modern steels are better and more consistent, but dies still crack during use. Die collapse is much less common today. There are multiple causes of coins with inferior detail: poor planchet annealing and incorrect (too low) striking pressure are the most common. Toggle presses produced uniform force with each blow, so actual striking pressure was determined by placement of one or two steel wedges that changed the distance between dies.

 (4)  The re-striking of a nation's coins.

Once a gold or silver coin left the country of issue (where it was legal tender), it was just bullion and used for local coins and other purposes.

RE: Smithson legacy. Original US Mint correspondence regarding the legacy and its conversion to US coin are available on NNP. Free.

RE: Sovereigns in US holdings. The New York Assay Office (now the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) holds a supply of sovereigns. We don’t know the dates or mints. Maybe some 1916 or 1917 or 1947 pieces are there…?

Edited by RWB
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Roger, has the U.S. Mint -- or any other mint -- ever considered metals other than steel for striking ?  Aluminum (dissipates heat better than steel) ?  Tungsten ?  Iron ?  Ceramics ?  Composites ?

Seems kind of staid to still be using plain old steel, although I am sure the hardness of today's steel is light-years better than what was made 100 years ago.

I came across this, may dig further but I'm not an expert and I can see there are tradeoffs in terms of strength, weight, brittleness, cost, ability to mold, etc:

https://bortec.de/en/blog/the-hardest-metals-in-the-world/

 

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 4/24/2020 at 3:31 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

I wonder how many Saints back then would get MS70 and MS69 right off the mint press vs. today....look at how near-perfect so many of the 2009 UHRs came out.

Completely different way of handling them.  The Saints after striking would get pushed out of the press, slide down a chute and FALL into a bin, where they would lay while hundreds more in turn fell down and landed on top of them.  That's NOT how the 2009 UHR coins were handled.

On 4/25/2020 at 11:23 PM, GoldFinger1969 said:

(3)  Die cracks and die breaks analysis was very informative.  Now I understand what they are, the differences, etc. xD  The crystaline structure of steel and the relative lack of metallurgy knowledge 100+ years ago added to the problem.  I suspect we don't have these problems today.

A big part of it was they didn't have the tools we have today.  A very important part in the creation of dies is getting them annealed or hardened properly.  A magor part of that is bringing them to the proper temperature, and holding them at that temperature for a given time.  A die taken to the proper temp and held the right length of time could perform very differently from that had only been "close".  But how do you judge this with no sensors that can tell you what the temperature is?  It was all done by experience.  You look in through a hole in the side of the furnace and judge what the temperatures was by what color the die steel was and mentally compare it to what you had done in the past and how well those dies worked. No pictures, no measurements, just subjective judgement of color.

 

On 4/26/2020 at 6:54 AM, Zebo said:

all of Smithson’s assets—worth 104,960 gold sovereigns—would go "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."

I believe the will merely stipulated the money was to be used for "the increase and diffusion of knowledge", I don't believe it specified how it was to be done, nor called for the establishment of an Institution, named after him or otherwise.  Two of the soveriegns are still in the national collection.

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18 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Roger, has the U.S. Mint -- or any other mint -- ever considered metals other than steel for striking ?  Aluminum (dissipates heat better than steel) ?  Tungsten ?  Iron ?  Ceramics ?  Composites ?

Aluminum is too soft, dies have to be harder than the material they are striking, also heat dissipation probably isn't that big a problem.  Tungsten is too difficult to work which is why it is typically formed as a powdered metal and then sintering or fusing.  Iron, well that's what steel is iron with other trace elements.  With dies the problem is the material has to be capable of being made soft enough to work an also to be made hard enough to last striking coins.  And it used to be the dies would have to be capable of being resoftened multiple times and then finally made hard enough for use.  Steel is pretty much ideal for this.

Edited by Conder101
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19 hours ago, Conder101 said:

 

I believe the will merely stipulated the money was to be used for "the increase and diffusion of knowledge", I don't believe it specified how it was to be done, nor called for the establishment of an Institution, named after him or otherwise.  Two of the soveriegns are still in the national collection.

This is from the will posted by the Smithsonian. I'll have to check other sources to confirm. The passage in question is below:

In the case of the death of my said Nephew without leaving a child or children, or the death of the child or children he may have had under the age of twenty-one years or intestate, I then bequeath the whole of my property subject to the Annuity of One Hundred pounds to John Fitall, & for the security & payment of which I mean Stock to remain in this Country, to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men.

The two examples of the Queen Victoria 1838 Sovereigns - they (Smithsonian) are not sure whether or not these were a part of the gift or merely examples of the sovereigns (year) that were obtained elsewhere. I've discussed this point with the Smithsonian personnel on a couple of occasions. The Smithsonain also has examples of the $10 Eagles that Smithson's gift may have been turned into after being melted.  

 

 

 

Edited by Zebo
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Roger - you and gold finger have me thinking. Many double Eagles went overseas - some stored in bank vaults, some melted. England melted them to coin sovereigns, other countries stored them as struck. I've had limited success asking the Royal Mint questions, but have never thought about researching their melt records. Have you or do you know of anyone that has asked whether or not they kept melt records and if so - what details they contained? It's getting into the weeds a bit, but might be interesting.  Wouldn't add much because their records, if kept, were probably by weight and not denomination, but the year might offer some indication of trade/debt.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Zebo said:

Roger - you and gold finger have me thinking. Many double Eagles went overseas - some stored in bank vaults, some melted. England melted them to coin sovereigns, other countries stored them as struck. 

I haven't finished the book yet (about Page 400 xD) but I don't think our Mint records (and therefore probably theirs) would show what the source of gold that was being coined or turned into bars came from:  gold mines, gold bars, or gold coins from another country.

But I suspect Roger knows more......

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RE: "Many double Eagles went overseas - some stored in bank vaults, some melted. England melted them to coin sovereigns, other countries stored them as struck. I've had limited success asking the Royal Mint questions, but have never thought about researching their melt records. Have you or do you know of anyone that has asked whether or not they kept melt records and if so - what details they contained?"

The Royal Mint was organized differently than the US Mint. Merchants and gold recipients took their bullion to commercial refiners who produced 0.997+ bars. These were sold to the Bank of England at the current gold fixing (London). This was transferred to the Royal Mint for coinage. There were no publicly available government refineries. So -- the places to look for coin importing records are government gold import statistics, merchant accounts, private refiners, and the Bank of England, not the Royal Mint (except for production). The Royal Mint was operated by the Goldsmith's Guild as a cost-plus concession. The guild sought to meet only the basic minimum for legal tender - anything not used for the coins belonged to the guildsmen. Operations were supervised by  the Deputy Master as a Crown Guardian or appointee.

The situation made it profitable for miners in Australia to divert bullion, dust and coin to San Francisco. South Africa and India miners had to follow guidance from London on pricing their ore and bullion, which led to considerable economic and political friction between these colonies and the Crown.

As previously noted, US gold coins were merely bullion once they left the U.S. No one tracked dates/mintmarks or other distinctive features. Bullion brokers and merchants saw no profit in holding gold - gain was in turning it over quickly. (US bankers observed the same philosophy and kept gold coin only as required reserves and for customer convenience.)

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Bags of DE trundled around Europe for decades -  but only by weight. Unbagged-counted-rebagged-unbagged-counted-weighed-rebagged-unbagged-weighed-consolidated into 22.2 Kilo bags-etc.,etc. This accounts for the appearance of most DE, which resemble Miss Liberty after a street brawl with NBA players.

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12 minutes ago, RWB said:

which resemble Miss Liberty after a street brawl with NBA players.

Today's finesse players or The Bad Boys from the late-1980's ?  xD

Roger, just finished 2 sections on coins I own, 1923-D and 1924.  Loved it....I accidentally skipped towards the end to put my bookmark and saw that you have several sections after 1933 that deal with stuff I was hoping might be in the yearly coin analyses...so I'm looking forward to getting into the mid-500's page-wise (promising myself not to skip ahead :)).

You know, Central and South American banks are still so far behind technologically with computer systems tracking their assets and liabilities....you get a small bank in a rural area.... you never know if it might have a stray bag of 1927-D's or some other super-rare year or mintmark of Saints.  But then again maybe the chance to sell at a premium in the 1970's and 1980's when Akers and MTB and those guys were scouring the Big Banks had them all look and there's nothing there.  Oh well, one could always hope. (thumbsu

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Just Some Quick Tidbits on the early-1920's Sections:  I liked reading about Frank "Inept" Scoby (thumbsu....love the discussions on hoards; MTB is still around, they give gold prices in the MarketWeek Section of BARRON'S (been seeing their name there for almost 35 years)....love mentions and reading about the old firms that are no longer around like Paramount and Superior (would love to read a brief, few pages history of their activity, their main players, etc.); these guys helped build the hobby for the Baby Boomers and others.

 

 

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MTB's archival records were largely destroyed in flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Documents were in an underground storage facility that flooded.

Scoby.

Dave Bowers and the Stacks are the prime go-to sources for past business anecdotes.

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RE: " I don't think our Mint records (and therefore probably theirs) would show what the source of gold that was being coined or turned into bars came from:  gold mines, gold bars, or gold coins from another country. "

Many U.S. mint annual reports show the sources and types of old deposited for coinage. This was important data for an expanding country that was becoming integral to a world economy, Many years of ExIm reports from Commerce and Customs are included in Mint reports. There was also a separate report of the precious metals. Most of these are available on NNP to read or download.

Individual letters of transmittal for gold and silver often state the source and nationality of gold and silver coins deposited. Most of these will not be transcribed but I'll post a sample next time I come across one.

ADDED

Here's a letter about a small deposit of silver "dollars" (might have been U.S. or Mexican pesos), and foreign gold by coin denomination. Large bullion and bank depositors usually just said "foreign gold."

18460508 Small deposit of foreign gold.jpg

Edited by RWB
Formatting - again.
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6 minutes ago, RWB said:

RE: " I don't think our Mint records (and therefore probably theirs) would show what the source of gold that was being coined or turned into bars came from:  gold mines, gold bars, or gold coins from another country. "

Many U.S. mint annual reports show the sources and types of old deposited for coinage.

Going back to the miners being delerious at $40 gold.....the big story in the last decade or so was the inability of most of the big mining companies to make money as the price of gold went up 6-fold to $1,800/oz. in 2011 and then stayed above $1,200 for years after.  They actually did better when gold was at $500/oz.  

Their cost structures blew out (the same factors that drove gold up drove up the cost of producing gold) and they made the most idiotic acquisitions and mergers.  The destruction of shareholder wealth was ridiculous.

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The Roaring Twenties....smack in the middle of the 1920's coin reviews, the 1925-S area.  Hopefully, tomorrow I will get to my final coin that I own (1927) as well as the one I am itching to read about most next to the 1933, that being the 1927-D.

Interesting Stuff, Comments Welcome:  This "Merker Mines" has something to do with the Nazis, gonna have to explore it on my own as it was just 1-line in the book but I never heard of it before, had to Google it....Virgil Brand with 1,000 1923-D's was a numismatist and collector in the early-1900's but I knew nothing about him, had to do another Google....I was gonna ask who the "unidentified elderly New York Woman" was in the list of 1925-S owners and then Roger had a perfectly placed entire page on David Akers Comments on Exceptional Specimens (p. 459) which explained who she was.  Not sure where this 1988 commentary came from, it's not in Aker's Gold book, at least the 2008 Ambio re-edit.  Maybe it was from the original 1988 book. 

I love how sometimes the Commentary sections are Roger's thoughts and other times it's comments from others like Akers, Bowers, etc.  Sort of like "The Tonight Show" in the 1980's when Johnny had multiple Guest Hosts so he could only work 3 nights a week. xD   Serioulsy, why re-invent the wheel all the time in a 600+ page book....I really think having paragraphs or pages with comments from Bowers, Akers, etc. al is a real strength of the book.  Get diverse opinions, and it changes up the pace.  Kudos to whoever thought of this style format.

 

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3 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

 

I am responsible for all content except variety numbering and pricing. Those, along with some general light copy editing/layout, were provided by Heritage authors as shown on the cover.

 

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6 minutes ago, RWB said:

I am responsible for all content except variety numbering and pricing. Those, along with some general light copy editing/layout, were provided by Heritage authors as shown on the cover.

 

Great job....I'm getting a bit disappointed though knowing that I'm about 75% done with the book.  Almost over !! :(

It's a great book.  I really commend you.  Will be my go-to Bible for all my future Saint purchases.  Wonder if I can get the yearly Appearance/Commentary sections somehow on my smartphone.  Easier than lugging the book around at FUN. xD

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Reading about coins for which we have < 2,000 coins or even less....the wholesale melting of some of these coins by year/mintmark.....I keep asking myself WHY the Treasury and Mint officials couldn't save 1 damn bag for every year/mm for future collectors.  Probably no more than 30-35 bars.

No, they had to melt every damn coin. :frustrated:

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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There was a proposal in 1936 from one of the Treasury lawyers under General Counsel Herman Oliphant that might have accomplished some organized level of preservation, as GoldFinger1969 suggests. Treasury recognized there were coin collectors who wanted certain date/mintmarked gold coins. The suggestion was to remove a few of each gold coin by date/mintmark and sell them to collectors for bullion (which is what they were after the Gold Act of January 1934) value plus a markup to cover costs of recovery and sales.

This got shot down quickly when it was realized that paying the public $20 for a double eagle, and then reselling it for $45 or $50 would not generate good public reactions. Ultimately, proof sets were issued - although even those required Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr.  to overrule his staff. (See United States Proof Coins 1936-1942 for details on the proof coin program.)

[But also see my article “Rescued Rarities,” Numismatist, pp.43-51. June 2017 about the Mint and FRB saving rare coins from destruction.]

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55 minutes ago, RWB said:

This got shot down quickly when it was realized that paying the public $20 for a double eagle, and then reselling it for $45 or $50 would not generate good public reactions.

Did they think forcing the public to turn in their gold at $20/oz. and then saying it was worth $35/oz. was good PR ?  xD

I've read about the famous gold cases and other incidents.  Izzy Switt had like 100 gold coins (mostly Liberty DEs) just taken from him, even though he was a jeweler/dealer.  Others had larger coin/bars sums taken, too.

Thanks for the info, Roger...I'm gonna try and find that article on the failed attempt to save coins.  Guess I'll just have to get a 1927-D the old fashioned way.....xD

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Roger, were your Production and Survivor Ranks updated or changed from Aker's 2008 book ?  If yes, I may put them into an Excel Spreadsheet so I have the latest rankings (unless there's a website somewhere with even more updated info). 

I'm assuming you don't have the tables in the back of the book somewhere (I'm trying not to peek ! xD )

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1 hour ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Roger, were your Production and Survivor Ranks updated or changed from Aker's 2008 book ?  If yes, I may put them into an Excel Spreadsheet so I have the latest rankings (unless there's a website somewhere with even more updated info). 

I'm assuming you don't have the tables in the back of the book somewhere (I'm trying not to peek ! xD )

All were individually calculated using a wide set of data from multiple sources. Akers' numbers were based only on his experience as a coin dealer and broker.

The pubic was not "forced" to turn in gold coins, unless they were hoarding them. Nearly all physical gold being hoarded was in bar form by wealthy US or foreign entities. At the time of the first gold hoarding order, the metal was bid at about $27 in Europe markets so any "gold standard" was just hot air even then.

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52 minutes ago, RWB said:

RE: "Izzy Switt had like 100 gold coins (mostly Liberty DEs) just taken from him,..."

78 coins. Had he simply renewed his license nothing would have happened.

I thought his license got taken away.  You mean he let it lapse or he was protesting the Executive Order ?

Seems rather harsh.....that's some serious change.  No wonder he didn't trust the Feds.

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56 minutes ago, RWB said:

All were individually calculated using a wide set of data from multiple sources. Akers' numbers were based only on his experience as a coin dealer and broker.

OK, if there's no link to pages that resemble those in the Akers book, I'm gonna re-create them in Excel.  You did a great job.  I'm going to rank them by Production, Survivor, and MS65 and above totals.  Will be nice to have them in my smartphone if I'm buying or looking at a coin that's in the middle of the scarcity factors and I want to know where it stands on the Survivor/MS65 rankings.

Thanks.

 

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Mr. Switt's license was taken because he didn't follow a couple of very simple requirements. He did not immediately apply for re-issue, as others did. Things were confusing and constantly changing regarding gold licenses and what was or was not covered.

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1927:  A Great Year for the NY Yankees and Murderers Row, and also for the 1927, 1927-D, and 1927-S Saints.  I thought the Commentary section for the 1927 was a bit short, but it IS a pretty nondescript common Saint. 

But the book hit one out of the park with the bases loaded with the 1927-D:  2 pages of Commentary talk about the rarity of the "D" and then 3 pages of sales/pedigree of all of the known 1927-D's that exist.

Probably get through 1928 by today, and then I can hit the 1929-32 dates over the weekend.  Since every year in that group is super-rare, should be very interesting to see what the book has.  Especially looking forward to the 1933 section.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Glad you found the 1927-D section interesting. The auction database at Heritage was very useful as were those from other large companies and the NNP historical data (although much of that is repetition and speculation).

The section on 1933 might prove disappointing - no "drama" - just facts and data similar to the others. This had to await Supreme Court action on the Langboard appeal for complation.

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