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 created by the 1849 California Gold Rush. They were never intended for general use in commerce - $20 was equal to a little over 2 weeks wages when the coins were first minted, and it was illogical to carry one's entire month's salary in the form of one easy-to-lose coin. They were instead made to monetize the surplus of gold, and used in large business transactions, largely between banks.
History of the design of $20 Double Eagle gold coins
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 he 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.
Condition of these $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle gold coins
During the time when these double eagles were first minted, the average wages were about $450 per year, so a double eagle was a little over two weeks 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, although some of them received light wear. This particular coin has light wear on the higher relief spots in the design, but this does not affect the overall beauty of the coin.
|Year of Issue:||Random Date 1908-1932|
|Weight in Grams:||30.093 g|
|Weight in Ounces:||0.9675 oz|
|Legal Tender:||United States|
|Obverse Design:||Liberty striding forward with the rising sun to her back|
|Reverse Design:||Eagle in flight|
|Reverse Designer/Engraver:||Augustus Saint-Gaudens|
|Obverse Designer/Engraver:||Augustus Saint-Gaudens|
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