1908 Motto Saint Gaudens

Double Eagle PCGS PR66

The Philadelphia Mint found it impossible to polish the basined surfaces and high relief devices of the new Saint-Gaudens design in the same manner as the old brilliant proofs of previous years. Accordingly, they adopted an artistic matte, or sandblast, finish for gold proof coins in 1908. After striking, the 1908 proofs were heavily sandblasted with a coarse grain of sand that produced a dark olive-gold patina, with none of the reflective fields and field-device contrast of earlier proofs. The resulting finish resembled that seen on some European medals of the period, but contemporary U.S. collectors much preferred the old brilliant proof finish. Mint records indicate only 101 proof double eagles were distributed in 1908. Remaining unsold pieces were subsequently melted. Probably no more than 60 to 70 examples survive today in all grades. In hand, the color is more of a yellow-gold than the reddish-orange seen in our images. The PCGS population is only 5 with 3 higher.

Offered at $145, 700 delivered

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1908 Indian Half Eagle NGC PR64

First Year Matte Proof

The innovative, incuse Indian design by Bela Lyon Pratt was introduced on the quarter eagle and half eagle in 1908. The Philadelphia Mint found it impossible to polish the dies for the new designs to produce the old brilliant finish used on proofs of earlier years, so a new sandblast finish was adopted. The coins were struck from specially prepared dies and subjected to sandblasting with a coarse grain of sand, while being held with a glove. The sandblast finish gave the coins an artistic medallic appearance, but contemporary collectors preferred the old brilliant proofs and orders for proof sets were anemic. The Mint produced 500 examples of the new gold proofs in 1908, but only 167 were distributed. The remaining coins went unsold and were melted after the close of the year. Of course, present-day numismatists appreciate the sandblast proofs for their artistic quality and elusive nature.

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Offered at $22,000 delivered

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1908-D Indian Half Eagle NGC MS65

Rare First Year of Issue

The Philadelphia issue was the chief beneficiary of public hoarding when Bela Lyon Pratt’s Indian Head half eagle made its debut in 1908, and is readily available in most grades today. Its Denver counterpart, however, boasts a surviving population that is more in line with later issues: The date is available in grades through MS64 but becomes a rarity at the Gem level. In fact, he NGC population is only 7 with none higher.

Offered at $22,750 delivered

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1908 Indian Quarter Eagle NGC PR68

1 of Only 2 So-Graded

With the new coinage designs of 1907 and 1908, the mint recognized these coins could not be produced by the conventional brilliant proofing method. Their solution was to sandblast the coins, producing a matte surface; a finish that had been applied to some mint medals for decades. However, the mint’s main customers for proofs were coin collectors, and collectors were generally not familiar with the matte proofing technique or appearance. The result was general dislike by the collecting community and dwindling sales for proof gold until the final year in 1915. There were 236 proof quarter eagles produced, and it is estimated that 100 to 120 pieces are extant today. The surfaces on this piece border on perfection. This is one of only two so-graded by NGC, with none higher.

Offered at $63,250 delivered

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1908 Indian Quarter Eagle PCGS PR66

First Year Matte Proof

With the new coinage designs of 1907 and 1908, the mint recognized these coins could not be produced by the conventional brilliant proofing method. Their solution was to sandblast the coins, producing a matte surface; a finish that had been applied to some mint medals for decades. However, the mint’s main customers for proofs were coin collectors, and collectors were generally not familiar with the matte proofing technique or appearance. The result was general dislike by the collecting community and dwindling sales for proof gold until the final year in 1915. There were 236 proof quarter eagles produced, and it is estimated that 100 to 120 pieces are extant today. The sandblast surfaces on this piece exhibit the khaki-brown color this date is known for. The PCGS population is 18 with 11 higher. 

Offered at $34,500 delivered

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1908 No Motto Indian Eagle PCGS MS65

Satiny Gem

The design of the Indian eagle was modified to include the motto IN GOD WE TRUST in 1908. The Philadelphia Mint only produced 33,500 No Motto ten dollar gold pieces before switching to the new type. Despite the limited production figure, the 1908 No Motto is not too difficult to locate in lower Uncirculated grades, but examples in MS65 condition are rare.

Offered at $13,800 delivered

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Offer subject to availability.