Coin Profile: St. Gaudens Double Eagle

The St. Gaudens Double Eagle is one of the most highly coveted coins for numismatics all around the world. Its beauty is nearly unmatched, and its almost unbelievable whirlwind of a history makes it even more intriguing.

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This coin is valuable and makes a great investment for your gold bullion collection or your rare coin collection. Whether you already have one in your possession or are looking to add one to your collection, we’ve compiled an entire breakdown of the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Coin.

History

Creation

President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a renowned sculptor, to create a new coin that would beautify American coinage. President Roosevelt very much wanted to make American coins much more beautiful, similar to ancient coins from Rome. He wanted American coins to stand out among other currencies from around the world.

Unfortunately, Saint-Gaudens’s health declined during the designing of the coin, so the design was finalized by his assistant, Henry Hering.

The design had an extremely high relief, which means that the raised parts of the coin’s design were much higher than a traditional coin. Because of this, the coin was very difficult to strike. (Striking is the process of the stamp with the coin’s design being pressed down on the blank coin.)

The original design from Saint-Gaudens took nine strikes to achieve the high-relief design. The US Mint prefers that coins only take one strike to make, as it obviously takes less time and effort to create. Because of this, Charles Barber, chief engraver at the US Mint at the time, lowered the relief of Saint-Gaudens’s design so that it was more practical to make.

The coin was eventually released in 1907, three years after it was commissioned from President Roosevelt. Controversially, the coin lacked the words “In God We Trust,” and in 1908, Congress intervened and required the motto to be engraved on the coins.

Circulation

$20 St. Gaudens Double Eagles were minted from 1907 to 1933. However, the Gold Confiscation Act of 1933 led to the destruction of all Double Eagles minted in 1933—except for nine. The legend is that a worker at the US Mint exchanged about 20 of the 1933 Double Eagles with previous years, so the accounting books matched up. These 20 coins are exceedingly rare, and are technically illegal to hold.

One of these sold for over $7 million in 2002. It is currently on loan from a private holder to the New York Historical Society and Library. Ten of them were found in 2004 and were turned in to the US Mint, who immediately confiscated them. In 2018, another coin was found and turned over to the US government. That means that there are still likely around nine missing 1933 Double Eagles somewhere in the world.

Design

The $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle is regarded as one of the most beautiful coins ever created. Even aside from its rarity, its beauty adds to its value.

The obverse of the coin features a full-length portrait of Lady Liberty, holding an olive branch in her left hand and a torch in her right hand. The sun’s rays extend out from behind her, and the US Capitol building can be seen in the background on the left-hand side. The word “Liberty” extends across the top of the coin, and 48 stars to represent each of the 48 states at that time wrap around the edge of the coin. The minting date is located on the lower right side.

The reverse of the coin features a left-facing eagle flying in the sky, with a setting sun located on the very bottom of the coin, its rays extending upwards behind the eagle. The words “In God We Trust” are on all years of these coins except 1907, which were minted before Congress intervened and required the motto to be placed on all currency. Across the top of the coin are the words “United States of America” and underneath that is “Twenty Dollars,” the currency value of the coin.

The edge of this coin is different than most—it features the motto E Pluribus Unum, and one star is between each of the letters in this motto, for a total of 13 stars around the edge of the coin. There is no reeding.

Specifications

The diameter of the coin is 34mm, and the thickness is 2.41mm. The designer of both sides of the coin was Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whom the coin is named after. Each Double Eagle contains 0.9675 troy oz (33.44 g) of 0.900 gold. The whole coin weighs 33.44g. The coin has a currency value of $20, but is worth much more.

Minting

The Double Eagle was first minted in 1907, without the words In God We Trust. Congress quickly intervened, and all coins from 1908 to 1933 featured those words. All of the coins minted in 1933 were thought to be destroyed, but an employee at the Mint switched out a few, saving around 20 of the 1933 editions, which are exceedingly rare and illegal to hold in your possession.

The coin was minted at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints. The coins minted at the Denver and San Francisco are designated with their mint marks, D and S, respectively. The coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint do not have a mint mark.

This coin is no longer minted, although aspects of the coin’s design have been reused across other contemporary coins.

Value

Millions of the Double Eagles have been minted over the course of the coin’s lifetime from 1907–1933, but those high numbers are not a clear indicator of its value.

Some years of this coin are rarer than others, causing different mintages to be worth vastly different amounts. Of course, the condition of the coin greatly impacts its value. One coin from a specific year may be worth much more even if it is in poorer condition, due to the year’s rarity, as opposed to a coin in near-perfect condition that was minted in a more commonly found year.

Investing

St. Gaudens Double Eagles make a great addition to any numismatist’s collection, due to its rarity and beauty. These coins also make great investments for the bullion investor, who is looking to diversify their portfolio with a rare and valuable coin that holds its worth very much outside its value in gold content.

At Nationwide Coins, we offer high-quality St. Gaudens Double Eagle coins that would make a great investment piece for your portfolio. Give us a call today to discuss your options!

Purchase St. Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Coins.