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St Gaudens Obverse The obverse of the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.

Saint-Gaudens Twenty Dollar Gold Piece


The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is a timeless classic that is considered the patriarch of U.S. coins for both it's beauty and it's gold value. If you could own just one coin, the Saint-Gaudens should be that special coin.

Designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin is both a wealth reserve, and a work of art. At 34mm, the Saint-Guadens Double Eagle is a big coin that contains slightly less than an ounce of gold (.9675 oz. to be exact). The Saint-Gaudens was minted from 1907 to 1933, but the 1933 coins were melted, and were not released to the public.

History of The Saint-Gaudens
The history of the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle dates back to 1906, when President Theodore Roosevelt took a keen interest in the having the U.S. coins redesigned to improve their artistic qualities and promote the greatness of the United States. Roosevelt recruited Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was a famous sculpture, and asked the Secretary of the Treasury, Leslie Mortier Shaw, to allow Saint-Gaudens to redesign the Double Eagle and Eagle. Roosevelt corresponded with Saint-Guadens during the design process where he reinforced the ideals he believed the new coins should reflect. Saint-Gaudens died before finalizing the designs for production, and chief engraver, Charles E. Barber completed the work. After producing two dozen coins in 1907, Barber lowered the relief. These two dozen coins are known as the Ultra High Relief coins, and they are extremely rare.

In the first year of production, about 12,000 coins were minted with a high relief and a Roman numeric date (MCMVII). This was quickly changed to a lower relief and an Arabic 1907 year, which persisted in subsequent years. In late 1908, Charles Barber added the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse at the request of Congress. Consequently, about 4% of the 1908 Philadelphia strikes (approximately 156,000 coins), and half the 1908 Denver strikes (approximately 350,000 coins) contain the motto. All of the 1908 San Francisco strikes have the motto because the small number of strikes at that mint (approximately 22,000 coins) was performed after the motto change.

The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles were mainly bank coins used for inter-bank and international transactions, and as such they were seldom found in general circulation; especially on the East Coast where paper money was preferred for large transactions. Most of these coins spent their early years in bank vaults before ultimately finding their way into the hands of collectors later in the century.

Least Expensive Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles
The least expensive coins are the most common dates, which for the Saint-Gaudens Twenty Dollar coins are the 1928 Philadelphia,  1924 Philadelphia, 1924 Denver, 1927 San Fransisco, 1927 Philadelphia, 1931 Philadelphia, 1925 Denver, 1924 San Fransisco, and 1927 Philadelphia. These can be purchased for close to the value of gold they contain.

Most Expensive Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles
Although all of the 1933 series were thought melted, there are a few that escaped. Two are at the Smithsonian Institute, and a few more are believed to be held quietly in the hands of private collectors. These coins are priceless. There are also about two dozen Ultra High Relief coins struck in 1907 which are extremely valuable. This relief was too high for mass production, so it was quickly lowered to what is known as the High Relief coins. About 12,000 of these High Relief coins were struck until these also proved difficult to mint. At that point the relief was lowered again to a low relief that was used throughout the rest of the series years. At the same time, the date too was changed from Roman to Arabic style. The High Relief / Roman Year variety is a very desirable coin that is expensive, but with a mintage of 12,000, collectors can get their hands on them for the right price. Also rare are the 1913 San Fransisco, 1909 Denver, and 1930 San Francisco coins. They are not as rare as the 1907 Romain Numeral variety, but they still command a significant premium over the price of gold, especially in better condition.

How can you tell which mint your coin came from?
The Saint Gaudens Twenty Dollar coins minted in Denver have a D mint mark on the obverse side above the date. coins minted in San Francisco have an S mint mark found in the same location. Coins minted in Philadelphia lack a mint mark.

The Reissue Bullion Coins
In 1986, the U.S. mint began minting American Eagle gold bullion coins that are 22-karat gold. The bullion coins feature a similar obverse design as the original Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, but they lack the magnificent reverse of the original. The one-ounce bullion coin has a face value of fifty dollars, rather than the old double eagle twenty dollar standard. The bullion coins are typically purchased for their gold content rather than as a collectible, and they are also minted in fractional denominations - half-ounce ($25 face value), quarter-ounce ($10 face value), and tenth-ounce ($5 face value). Early bullion coins used a Roman style date from 1986 through 1991. This was changed to an Arabic style beginning in 1992.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens also designed the equally beautiful Indian Head Ten Dollar gold Piece.

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St Gaudens Reverse The reverse of the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle features an eagle in flight. Charles E. Barber added IN GOD WE TRUST on the bottom in 1908.

St Guadens Compare Obverse On the left is an original St. Gauden's Double Eagle from 1924. On the right is the modern American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin that the U.S. government began minting in 1986. Note that the bullion coin is slightly smaller in diameter and has two extra stars (to recognize the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the Union). The color between the two coins also differs because the original Saint-Gaudens was composed of 90% gold and 10% copper. The modern version is 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper.

St Guadens Compare Dates In 1986, the U.S. mint began minting American Eagle gold bullion coins. The date was Roman style from 1986 through 1991 like the 1986 Eagle on the left. This was changed to an Arabic style beginning in 1992 like the Eagle on the right.

St Guadens Compare Reverse The reverse on the modern American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin (on the right) is entirely different than the original on the left. Many feel the new reverse doesn't live up to the classic feel of the original.

Saint Guadens Rare This is the high relief Saint-Gaudens which features a Roman numeral date. About 12,000 of these were struck in 1907, before the relief was lowered and the date was changed to an Arabic style. Notice too that the IN GOD WE TRUST motto is missing from the reverse. But both the High Relief and Low Relief 1907 coins lack the motto because it was not added until 1908.

St Guadens Mint Mark The mint mark on the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is found above the date. If there is no mint mark, then the coin was minted at the Philadelphia mint.