1907-D Liberty Head Double Eagle. JD-1, the only known dies. Rarity-8. Branch Mint Proof-62 (PCGS). CMQ-X.This is the most famous Proof striking of this historic branch mint double eagle issue. Fully mirrored fields are wonderfully augmented by razor sharp design features. The obverse stars, denticles, and hair curls are all entirely complete. Likewise, the reverse shield, feather details, rays and peripheries are meticulously struck. Much of the lettering in the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and denomination TWENTY DOLLARS exhibits evidence of rather noticeable doubling when examined with the aid of a loupe. All design elements are reflective, like the fields, providing universal mint brilliance to both sides. In fact, there is not even a hint of cameo contrast, which is in keeping with the method of manufacture that the Philadelphia Mint introduced for its Proof gold and silver coinage in 1902. Die polish is complete and covers all field areas, even those closest to the denticles and design elements - this is quite unlike the less-expert die polishing seen on, say, branch mint Proof Morgan silver dollars from Carson City and New Orleans.
This coin is nicely preserved for having once been part of the Farouk Collection. John Pittman reported that the former Egyptian king had a conservator who cleaned his coins and, while some examples from his collection seem to have escaped such handling, many show evidence of it. The present specimen is in the latter category, the surfaces with a touch of glossiness and light hairlining throughout. These features are all that account for the Proof-62 numeric grade from PCGS, however, for otherwise both sides are essentially smooth and show clear evidence of careful preservation since the day of striking - its time with the Farouk conservator aside. A faint, nearly vertical reeding mark on Libertys neck and tiny planchet void in the obverse field inside star 12 (the latter as made) are the only sizeable blemishes and serve as the most useful identifiers.
The Denver Mint appears to have been very aware of its place in United States coinage history. In 1906, its first year of operations as a mint, the Denver facility struck six specially prepared double eagles to commemorate the occasion. These were delivered on April 2, as the first $20 gold coins to bear the D mintmark. Certified by both PCGS and NGC in the Specimen category, one of these coins, graded Specimen-66 by PCGS and verified by CAC, was offered in our August 2011 Chicago ANA Auction. Its initial owner was Isaac Gotthelf, a Colorado pioneer and husband of the niece of Denver Mint Superintendent Herman Silver, who received it from his uncle.
Since the Mint had struck a few special double eagles in 1906, to mark the commencement of coinage at this facility, officials at the Denver facility decided to do the same thing in 1907. The occasion commemorated in the latter year was the passing of the Liberty Head design, one of the most significant in U.S. numismatics, and which made its debut on the regular issue double eagle in 1850. Accordingly, on September 30, 1907, the Denver Mint struck a limited number of Proof Liberty Head double eagles, just before formal orders ending production of the type were received from the East Coast.
For decades only a single specimen from that special striking was known to exist - the coin offered here. It was described in 1982 by David W. Akers, who concluded it was unique as a Proof 1907-D double eagle. Its earliest provenance has been lost to history, but we can assume that the initial owner was a high-ranking Mint official in Denver, or a local state or city dignitary. The coin eventually found its way into the collection of King Farouk of Egypt, when or from whom are unknown, but possibly through Hans Schulman, who by 1954 had several hundred thousand dollars in unpaid bills from Farouk. When the king was deposed by a coup of junior military officers, his collection was seized and ordered sold for the benefit of the Egyptian nation. This was done through Sothebys 1954 sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt, in which this spectacular rarity was included in a 34-piece group lot (such lotting was typical of the Farouk sales). The buyer is unknown, but John W. Dannreuther (<em>United States Proof Coins</em>, 2018) conjectures that Schulman, taking advantage of his aforementioned credit from the kings unpaid bills, acquired the coin for stock, as opposed to on behalf of a client, since a Proof 1907-D double eagle appeared a few years later in a Kreisberg-Schulman auction.
This provenance is inaccurate, however, as our research confirms that the Farouk and Kreisberg-Schulman specimens are two different coins. The Farouk specimen was acquired in 1954 by an unknown intermediary, and it was later purchased by London dealer Stephen Fenton in the 1990s, after which it was consigned to our (Stacks) October 2001 sale. This coins later provenance has been well established, including appearances in additional auctions. Initially certified Proof-62 by NGC in the modern numismatic market, the coin was crossed to its current PCGS Branch Mint Proof-62 holder sometime after January 2013. As of this writing, it is the only Proof 1907-D double eagle certified by PCGS.
In addition to Akers, Walter Breen reported the Farouk specimen as unique for a Proof 1907-D double eagle in the 1989 edition of his <em>Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins</em>. In his 2018 reference <em>United States Proof Coins</em>, however, John W. Dannreuther provided an estimated mintage for the issue of five specimens, with survivors listed as "1 to 3 known." Indeed, in recent years NGC has certified two additional 1907-D double eagles in either the Specimen or Proof category. Like the Farouk specimen offered here, those other two coins were also struck from the die pairing now known as JD-1, with the left base of the digit 1 in the date over the right edge of a denticle and the mintmark positioned slightly right of center. For their June 2020 offering of the NGC Specimen-65 coin, the Heritage cataloger noted: "The pattern of die polish in the lower part of the clear spaces in the shield also matches that on the proof example. In fact, we can find no diagnostic differences between the two formats." It would appear, therefore, that the extant population of the Proof 1907-D Liberty Head double eagle now stands at least three coins:
1 - <strong>PCGS Branch Mint Proof-62.</strong> Ex King Farouk of Egypt; Sothebys sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt (Farouk), Sothebys, February-March 1954, part of lot 184, a 34-coin lot; unknown intermediary or intermediaries; Stephen Fenton; our (Stacks) 66th Anniversary Sale, October 2001, lot 1041; Heritages FUN Signature Auction of January 2004, lot 3227, as NGC Proof-62; Heritages sale of the Douglas Collection, January 2013 FUN Signature Auction, lot 5944, as NGC Proof-62; Classic Coin Company (Brian Hendelson); Minshull Trading (Lee Minshull), offered March 24, 2016, for $295,000. <em><strong>The present example</strong></em>.
2 - <strong>NGC Proof-62.</strong> Ex Heritages ANA Signature Auction of August 2016, lot 4363, as NGC Specimen-62.
3 - <strong>NGC Specimen-65.</strong> Ex Heritages sale of the Tree Leaf Collection, June 2020 Long Beach Signature Auction, lot 3299.
One additional 1907-D double eagle warrants mention here - the NGC MS-64 * Prooflike coin in Heritages January 2022 FUN Signature Auction, lot 4182. With diagnostics that also match those of the JD-1 die pairing, and having realized a very strong price of $132,000 in that sale, this coin also has legitimate claim to Proof status, although as of this writing it does not appear to have been certified as a Proof or Specimen, by either PCGS or NGC.
The following early provenance for this Proof issue, erroneously assigned to the Farouk specimen in the 2018 Dannreuther reference, as above, possibly represents an appearance of one of the three NGC-certified coins:
A - Ex Kreisberg-Schulmans sale of February 1960, lot 2931; Ronnie Carr.
Reference to a Kreisberg-Schulman sale of October 2, 1959 in some numismatic references and catalogs, which allegedly included the Farouk specimen of the Proof 1907-D as lot 1844, cannot be reconciled with any sales in the Newman Numismatic Portal or Gengerke listing.
As the first confirmed Proof 1907-D double eagle, a coin that was believed unique until recently, and the only one currently recognized as a Proof by PCGS, this is the most famous and significant example of this historic issue. An extensive provenance that includes the illustrious Farouk Collection further enhances the coins desirability. It is, without question, one of the most important Liberty Head double eagles that we have ever offered, and is destined to serve as a focal point in the finest numismatic cabinet.PCGS# 800190. NGC ID: 26EW.Ex King Farouk of Egypt; Sothebys sale of the Palace Collections of Egypt (Farouk), Sothebys, February-March 1954, part of lot 184, a 34-coin lot; unknown intermediary or intermediaries; Stephen Fenton; our (Stacks) 66th Anniversary Sale, October 2001, lot 1041; Heritages FUN Signature Auction of January 2004, lot 3227; Heritages sale of the Douglas Collection, January 2013 FUN Signature Auction, lot 5944; Classic Coin Company (Brian Hendelson); Minshull Trading (Lee Minshull), offered March 24, 2016, for $295,000.