1909 $20 St. Gaudens NGC PF69
The artistic matte, or sandblast finish used on proof coins in 1908 proved unpopular with collectors. Because of this, Philadelphia Mint superintendent John Landis decided to switch to a brighter, satin finish in 1909. Walter Breen called the satin finish “Roman” finish and accompanied it by simply eliminating the sandblasting step from the manufacturing process. The mint struck the coins on the medal press using new proof dies, giving them a sharper-than-usual strike and a satiny sheen from the unworn dies. The finished product was decidedly brighter than the dark matte surfaces of the sandblast proofs. However, the slightest wear on the coins would render them indistinguishable from the regular issue double eagles of 1909. Of the 166 acceptable proofs, only 67 examples were sold. This made the 1909 issue one of the most elusive proofs of the Saint-Gaudens series.
This coin is the finest survivor, with razor-sharp definition on all design elements. The pleasing yellow-gold surfaces are impeccably preserved and show the fine-grained texture typical of the Satin finish proofs. Overall visual appeal is tremendous! NGC population is only this coin, the finest known.