What Are $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles?

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

This country has a long history of circulating beautiful and brilliant coins but, the title of “Most Beautiful Ever Created” is usually given to the Saint-Gaudens Double Gold Eagle. This coin was originally commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt felt that American coinage was lacking, and he sought to remedy this by creating a new coin. When approaching this issue, President Roosevelt had requested an elegant high relief design with a high rim. Given these ramifications, it was now time to find an artist to further the design of these coins. All American coins previously created had been designed by employees of the U.S. Mint, but this long history stopped when Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a friend of Roosevelt’s who had designed his inauguration medallion, was selected to design the coin.
     Saint-Gaudens’ design included Lady Liberty on the obverse, striding in front of the sun’s rays, symbolizing the dawn of a new day. Lady Liberty’s right hand holds aloft a brilliant torch and her left holds a traditional image of an olive branch. In addition to Lady Liberty, the front of the coin also features an image of the U.S. Capitol building towards the bottom left, and a ring of stars serving as a border. The border of stars was meant to represent the Number of states within the union. In 1912 the number of stars created the border was changed from 46 to 48 with the addition of Arizona and New Mexico as states. The obverse also feature the year that the coin was minted. Saint-Gaudens had originally used Roman Numerals to show the year, but this was later changed, by Charles E. Barber, to Arabic Numerals. The reverse features an American eagle soaring above a blazing sun. The traditional motto, “in God we trust,” was added to the reverse of the coin in 1908, a year after the original design was minted.
     Issues soon arose as several of Saint-Gaudens designs had been created and proved to be too hard to strike. This was when Charles E. Barber stepped in once again to modify the design and lower the relief so that the coins could be struck more easily, with just one blow. These coins were struck from 1907-1933, when minting was slowed and eventually stopped as a result of the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal prohibited American citizens from holding monetary gold. He ordered all gold coins to be returned to the U.S. Treasury, where millions of coins were melted down and cast into gold bars. This was not the end of these coins, as two 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles were sent to the Smithsonian Institution and added to the national coin collection, taking their part in American history. You too can take your part in American history by calling 516-218-2094 or visiting Certified Coin Consultants on the web at https://www.certifiedcoinconsultants.com/ to find out more about Saint-Gaudens Double Gold Eagles.

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