Whenever the name Augustus Saint-Gaudens pops up in numismatic conversation, the discussion turns almost immediately to the MCMVII High Relief double eagle of his design that has captured the eyes – and hearts – of countless collectors since its inception. Somewhat less spectacular in appearance but perhaps just as beautiful -- though not quite as well known -- is the 1907 Wire Rim With Periods Indian eagle also designed by Saint-Gaudens, an issue that saw a mintage of just 500 pieces when it rolled off the presses. As many specialists will tell you, the Saint-Gaudens 1907 Wire Rim eagle is many times rarer than the MCMVII High Relief double eagle.
An arc of 13 stars adorns the field above the Indian head with Saint-Gaudens’ depiction of a Native American princess facing left in a war bonnet with LIBERTY on the headband and with the date below the bust. The edge of the coin (also called Judd-1901 in the pattern reference, though its pattern status has been argued over for decades) is adorned with 46 small stars, one for each of the states in the Union in 1907; in 1912 the star count increased to 48 after Arizona and New Mexico earned their places on Old Glory. The reverse features a central eagle facing left and perched on a bundle of arrows with an olive branch entwined. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arcs above the eagle, with E PLURIBUS UNUM at the eagle’s shoulder and TEN DOLLARS below – IN GOD WE TRUST would not be added to the design until the following year, 1908.
The beautiful Gem Uncirculated Wire Rim, With Periods eagle we sold as Lot 2181 in our March 2013 Baltimore Sale was graded MS-66 by NGC and earned the seal of approval from CAC. The deep orange-gold Gem opened to the bidding floor and was immediately bumped up the bidding scale during heavy bidding activity. The action eventually came down to two excited bidders before finally being awarded to the happy and successful winning bidder at $111,625! This six-figure sum is indicative of a healthy and prosperous rare coin market and the ability of rare coins to draw an interested and serious following. Most importantly, it indicates to smart collectors everywhere that when it is time to sell your rarities, there is no better place to turn than to Stack’s Bowers Galleries -- after all, When Great Collections are Sold, Stack’s Bowers Sells Them!