JD-1, Low R.5. The 1908 matte proof Indian eagle is rarer than certified population figures suggest. Reported sales of this issue reached only 116 coins, which were distributed to collectors late in the year, utilizing the modified With Motto design. John Dannreuther, in United States Proof Coins, Volume IV: Gold,estimates a survivorship of only 70 to 80 coins, while PCGS is a little less optimistic, suggesting 60 to 75 pieces are known. PCGS and NGC combined report 97 grading events, which is obviously inflated by resubmissions and crossovers.
This is the first piece we have seen in PR68. The typical 1908 proof seen at auction grades PR65 to PR67, and in fact, PCGS has not certified any pieces finer than that. This coin, tied with one other PR68 reported at NGC, represents the finest known of the issue.
Dannreuther discusses the existence of two different finishes for the 1908 proof eagle, one being the sandblast finish represented by the present coin, the other being a satin finish, which is prohibitively rare. The sandblast finish as introduced on this issue for collectors was unpopular, as it strayed far from the familiar mirrored fields of previous proof coinage. In 1909 and 1910, variations of a satin proof finish were employed for regular proof coinage, suggesting that the satin proofs of 1908 were struck as an experiment. Whatever the case, collector appreciation today is strong both satin and sandblast proof Indian gold. This piece, tinged deep orange-gold with olive tendencies, is an unsurpassable example of the Mint's first experiment. Census: 2 in 68, 0 finer (11/22)