Dr. Sol Taylor

Saint-Gaudens Returns: The 2009 UHR $20 Gold Coin

2009 UHR By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
Saturday, March 21, 2009

n its latest series of new coin issues, the United States Mint released in January its 2009 version of the very rare 1907 Saint Gaudens-designed $20 "double eagle" gold coin.
    The original design included 46 stars, a Roman numeral date and a wire like rim, and did not include the motto "In God We Trust." The 2009 version has the date, 2009, a small border was added for a more consistent edge, the motto "In God We Trust" was added in small letters on the reverse under the eagle, and the number of stars was increased to 50, reflecting the current number of states.
    In 1907, New Mexico and Arizona were still territories and did not join the union until 1912. The original 1907 ultra-high reliefs — there are two different versions — are very rare and catalogue in excess of $1 million.
    This $20 double eagle design is acclaimed by many as America's most beautiful coin.
    The modified design, which came out in 1908, ran until 1933 when the Gold Act of 1933 declared all gold coins (not in collections or rarities) as subject to confiscation.
    There are several very rare and valuable coins in the series, including a few that have passed the $1 million mark in recent auctions. A 1933 specimen was sold a few years ago for a record $7.5 million, and an uncirculated 1927-D example went for over $1 million.
    President Theodore Roosevelt wanted our coinage to reflect the new century and chose Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign our coinage. Due to Saint-Gaudens' terminal illness, he managed to complete only two new designs — the $10 Indian head gold piece and the $20 double eagle — before he succumbed to cancer.
    The $20 piece bears the iconic figure of Miss Liberty striding forward with a torch in one hand and an olive branch in the other, symbolizing peace and strength. The miniature capitol building in the left foreground exudes rays of light indicating its prominence in the United States.
    The Walking Liberty figure inspired two later coin designs, the Standing Liberty quarter, which came out in 1916, and the Walking Liberty half dollar, which also started in 1916.
    The 2009 version of the $20 double eagle is being minted in pure 24-karat gold rather than the original 22-karat gold. This makes it easier to strike up full images from the die.
    The dies were prepared from the original 1907 plaster casts in the Mint archives. Using modern technology, the original casts were used to digitally recreate the famous design. Mint engravers made the final revisions.
    The newly struck $20 coin is also double-thick, as was the first 1907 version with the motto "E Pluribus Unum" on the edge with stars in between.
    The asking price is $1,200, and the actual mintage is not published at this time. At least some collectors today can afford to have a real gold restrike (if they chose to call it that) of the original.
    For ordering and shipping information, go online to http://www.usmint.gov.