What are $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle coins?
The Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle coin is the creation of master sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and was the successor of the $20 Liberty Double Eagle which entered circulation for the first time in 1850. The denomination was created as a means of using up an overage in gold supply due to the 1849 California Gold Rush. They were never intended for general use in commerce - $20 was easily a month's wage at the time these coins were created, and it was illogical to carry one's entire month's salary in one easy to lose coin. They were instead made to monetize the surplus of gold and use in business transactions, largely between banks.
History of the design of $20 Double Eagle gold coin
After more than a half-century in circulation, President Theodore Roosevelt was of the opinion that the designs of our gold coins had seen their useful life. He had been familiar with the work of master engraver and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens through an unofficial presidential inauguration medal he had Saint-Gaudens design, and asked if he could help bring our coins into a more artistically appealing era. Saint-Gaudens had experienced trouble in the past communicating with Mint officials, but agreed to the request on the promise by Roosevelt that mint officials would not get in the way.
Designing the new Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles
Saint-Gaudens worked on the designs based on the request by Roosevelt that they be "distinctly American." He incorporated a Native-American theme in the designs at the President's request. The obverse design shows Lady Liberty stepping up onto a ledge bearing a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left hand. The reverse design shows an eagle in flight with the rising sun at the bottom of the design with sun rays pointing upward throughout the design behind the eagle.
These designs were incorporated in high relief in 1907, but had to be changed a number of times because the initial run of coins could not be fully struck with one blow of the coining press, and the force used to mint the coins was too great for the dies to withstand an affordable number of coins struck per die. The relief of the design was lowered in subsequent runs to ensure these problems were solved. By 1908 the coins were in full production with the lower-relief designs.
Why are there "No Motto" Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle gold coins?
When President Roosevelt originally spoke with Saint-Gaudens about the design of this series, he told Saint-Gaudens to leave "In God We Trust" out of the design of the coin. He felt it was not fitting to place such a statement on our coins. Saint-Gaudens complied and left the motto off of the coins. Shortly after the coins were released to the public, a roar of protest convinced Roosevelt that he had been wrong, so in mid-1908 he asked Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber to incorporate the motto into the design wherever Barber saw fit.
Condition of $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle gold coins
During the time when these double eagles were minted the typical worker made about $400 per year, so a double eagle was about equal to a month's wages. These coins were too high denomination for most people to afford, and losing one of them would be devastating to a large majority of the population. Their chief purpose in commerce was for business to business transactions such as bank transfers. Another of their chief purposes was to monetize the surplus stores of gold deposits for accounting purposes. They were never really intended to be placed in the hands of common people in typical commerce. Given that, many of the $20 Double Eagle gold coins were never pocket-worn in circulation. Most were instead transferred from place to place in bags with other coins. This made low-end uncirculated grades the most common among these coins, while the higher grade (mint state 63 and above) coins are highly sought after because they are far less common.
The product you are viewing is for one $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle gold coin graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) as MS64 (mint state 64). This grade is above the average grade for these coins and means that the coin is a GEM uncirculated coin with very minor scattered abrasions caused by storage, usually in bags with other coins. It is still a very attractive grade.
This 1908 Saint-Gaudens (No Motto) $20 Gold Double Eagle NGC MS64 is proudly minted by the U.S. Mint. The United States Mint was founded in 1792 and manufactures circulating, collectible, and bullion coinage.
|Year of Issue:||1908|
|Weight in Grams:||30.093 g|
|Weight in Ounces:||0.9675 oz|
|Legal Tender:||United States|