The Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coin

The Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coin, an undeniably beautiful coin with a spectacular design was created thanks to President Theodore Roosevelt’s unique relationship with a popular sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. President Roosevelt has always been an advocate for quintessential change, and the US coinage system became one of his subjects. Because of him, many coins were redesigned, including the $20 Liberty Head Gold Coin.

Since President Roosevelt has already been pleased with  Saint-Gaudens’ works and designs, he asked him to create a new design for the $20 Gold Coin, to which Saint-Gaudens gingerly accepted. They exchanged many letters discussing the design the Saint-Gaudens will make, and President Roosevelt’s idea was to raise the rim as an added protection and to strike the coin in high relief. The inspiration was taken from coins found in Ancient Greece.

Months later, the models were being prepared, but some US Mint Officials were not so keen on redesigning the $20 Gold Coin. US Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber was particularly opposed to the idea, stating the idea was impractical, but mainly because an outsider was hand-picked by the president to create the design instead of him. However, Roosevelt went on with his decision and officially appointed Saint-Gaudens to carry on.

The obverse features a full-length portrait of Lady Liberty wearing a gown in full stride. She was holding an olive branch on her left hand and a torch on her right hand. Rays of sunlight are seen behind her while the word LIBERTY is on top of her portrait in a form of an arc. The United States Capitol can be seen on her lower left and the date written in Roman Numerals MCMVII on her right, with Saint-Gaudens’ monogram just below the date. A total of 46 stars are scattered surrounding Miss Liberty.

For the reverse, an Eagle is seen midflight, with the rays of the sun below it extending up towards the Eagle. Two tiers are seen just above the Eagle – the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA just above the denomination TWENTY DOLLARS. It lacks the motto IN GOD WE TRUST as President Roosevelt felt that money can easily be used in illegal and ungodly pursuits. However, the Congress passed an Act that mandated all US coins to include the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins were struck with the motto latter in 1908.

Saint-Gaudens was terminally ill during this time. He was diagnosed with cancer and his condition is slowly killing him. The good things were he was assisted by his trusted assistant, Henry Herning. The new $20 Gold Coins were eventually struck in high reliefs. Saint-Gaudens, unfortunately, died before the coin was even produced.

The US Mint still declined of the idea as the original design created by Saint-Gaudens needed more than 6 blows in order to create a single coin – some in wide rims and other with flat rims. After only 22 pieces of the new $20 Gold Coin were minted in Ultra-High Relief, the dies have already cracked because of the amount of pressure exerted on the coins. It was believed that two of these $20 Gold Coins were melted and the remaining were distributed. Although the original Ultra High-Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins were patterns, these were still considered as a regular coinage and is the most popular variety of the series.

The next $20 Gold was struck in modified, low-relief coins. Because of the strikingly beautiful appearance of the High-Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins, they became an instant hit and were worth $30.00 within weeks after these were issued and released. It has become one of the most desired coins among all US coins.

A total of 11,250 pieces of high-relief coins were struck before the modified version was released. The Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin, also known as Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle were struck from 1907-1916, then again in 1920-1932 in US Mints located in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. These were made up of 90% Gold, 10% Copper, weighs 33.40g, has a diameter of 34mm and have lettered edges.

Thanks to the many modifications made on the design of the Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin, 4 types of these Double Eagles were born.

The Four Types of Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin acc. To PCGS Coin Facts

  1.    Ultra-High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin (1907)
    Coin: Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Image by Lost Dutchman Rare Coins, 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagle high relief obverse, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 3.0 US

    Coin: Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Image by Lost Dutchman Rare Coins, 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagle high relief reverse, size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 3.0 US

The very first and original models made by Augustus Saint-Gaudens were struck in Ultra-High Relief as a request by President Roosevelt. These were patters most sought-after by gold coin collectors.

Proofs:

1907 Extremely High Relief Lettered Edge – 22 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907 EX-HR Plain Edge – 1 coin minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907 EX-HR Inverted Edge Letters – 2 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

  1.    Type 1 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin (1907)

    US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1907-G$20-Saint Gaudens (Roman, high relief), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

The US Mint decided to strike the coins in a relief slight lower than the patterns as the dies literally cracked after just many coins were striked.

Regular Strike:

1907 High Relief-Wire Edge – 11,250 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907 High Relief-Flat Edge – mintage n/a

  1.    Type 2 No Motto Arabic Numerals Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin (1907-1908)

The Type 1 High Relief proved to be impractical after mass production of the Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin ensued, so the US Mint striked the next issue with low relief. Arabic Numerals replaced the Roman Numeral during this time.

Regular Strikes:

1907 Saint – 361,667 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1908 No Motto – 4,271,551 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1908-D No Motto – 663,750 coins minted at the Denver Mint

Proofs:

1907 Saint Large Edge Letters – 3 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907 Saint Small Edge Letters – 3 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

  1.    Type 3 With Motto Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin

    US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1908-D-G$20-Saint Gaudens (Arabic & motto), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

President Roosevelt was opposed to incorporating the motto IN GOD WE TRUST in the US Coinage with the belief that money can be used in illegal and ungodly practices, often reaching casinos and bars. However, the Congress passed a legislation that obliged the US Mint to include the motto in every coin. Thus, Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins struck in 1908 after the act was passed had the motto included in the decision. It was situated just below the Eagle.

Regular Strikes:

1908 Motto -156,258 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1908-D Motto -349,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1908-S -22,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1909 -161,215 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1909/8 -161,215 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1909-D -52,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1909-S -2,774,925 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1910 -482,000 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1910-D -429,000 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1910-S -2,128,250 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1911 -197,200 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1911-D -846,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1911-S -775,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1912 -149,750 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1913 -168,780 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1913-D -393,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1913-S -34,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1914 -95,250 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1914-D -453,000 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1914-S -1,498,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1915 -152,000 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1915-S -567,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1916-S -796,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1920 -228,250 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1920-S -558,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1921 -528,500 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1922 -1,375,500 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1922-S -2,658,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1923 -566,000 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1923-D -1,702,250 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1924 -4,323,500 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1924-D -3,049,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1924-S -2,927,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1925 -2,831,750 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1925-D -2,938,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1925-S -3,776,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1926 -816,750 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1926-D -481,000 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1926-S -2,041,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1927 -2,946,750 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1927-D -180,000 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1927-S -3,107,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1928 -8,816,000 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1929 -1,779,750 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1930-S -74,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1931 -2,938,250 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1931-D -106,500 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1932 -1,101,750 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1933 -445,500 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

Proofs:

1908 Motto Matte – 101 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1908 Roman Finish – 1 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1909 – 57 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1910 – 167 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1911 -100 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1912 – 74 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1913 – 58 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1914 – 70 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1915 – 50 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

Collecting Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin

Always look for signs of wear on Miss Liberty’s chest, her knee as well as the Eagle’s wing. As one may have known by now, the most valuable Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin is one with the original design struck in Ultra High Relief.

Average coin collectors may find it very expensive to collect High-Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins. However, typeset Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins with and without Motto can be purchased at a modest price.

Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coin dated 1907 and 1933 are the most expensive ones to watch out for. The 1909/8 overdate is also a popular coin thanks to its error. Gold coin collectors, however, are still keen on collecting gold coins with low mintages like the 1913-S, 1914, 1915, 1930-S and 1931-D.

According to PCGS, Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Coins can be purchased between $1,330.00-600,000.00 for Regular Strike coins. Proof coins would be much higher in price.

References:

PCGS, PCGS CoinFacts, NGC Coin, Coin World, My Coin Guides