Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.
The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle gold coin is named after the sculptor
who designed the coin, Augustus
Saint-Gaudens. This likewise hot coin is one of the $20 double eagle
gold coin series of the United States of America, which were minted from
1849 until 1933. The Saint-Gaudens coins were minted during the latter
years of this period, from 1907 to 1933.
The Saint-Gaudens design is considered to be the most artistically and
classically beautiful design on a U.S. coin. But as the saying goes,
beauty has its price. This beauty went a long and arduous journey before
it finally saw circulation. Its journey began in 1904 when then
president, Theodore Roosevelt strongly felt the need to improve the
appearance of American coinage. He thought that the designs on existing
coins were appallingly hideous and ill-suited for the countryís image.
The president wanted something of classical beauty like
Greek arts so he commissioned the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to
create a design of this caliber. Although Saint-Gaudens had
disagreements with the U.S. Mint and its officers before and promised
not to have anything to do with them anymore, he
still accepted the task because President Roosevelt was a personal
And of course, who would turn down a request from the president of
States of America, right?
Saint-Gaudens created the standing image of Liberty, her left foot
stepping on a rock and her hands holding a torch on the right and an
olive branch on the left. The goddess is illuminated by sun rays from
her back and surrounded by 46 stars that represent the 46 states of
America during that time. This was the design for the obverse side of
the $20 gold coin. For the reverse, Saint-Gaudens designed an eagle in
flight backed by the sunís rays again like on the obverse.
President Roosevelt was so delighted in these designs that
ordered them minted as soon as possible and without alterations. The
Mint knew that the design would be very difficult to strike in large
numbers because itís in ultra-high relief. The Mint also thought that
the coin would not be able to make it to circulation. But after many
disagreements and debates in correspondence exchanges from the Mint to
the President, to the Sculptor and back, the Mint finally gave in. They
knew they had no choice but to obey.
Not long after the first try, the design proved to be difficult and
time-consuming to process. A single strike, which is the normal for mass
coin production, could not do it. So, chief engraver Charles Barber
lowered the relief to make single strike possible and have the coin
released for public circulation. It was too bad though that
Saint-Gaudens didnít live long enough to see his masterpiece final
production. He died in 1907, shortly after he finished his design.