HomeGold BullionGold CoinsGold American EaglesUltra High Relief Gold Eagles
Without question, the most beautiful coin every designed in the United States was Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Gold Double Eagle Coin. Originally designed and produced beginning in 1907, Saint-Gaudens intended for his design to be featured on a high-relief, proof quality coin. His ultimate vision for the coin would not be realized until a century later, with the release of an Ultra High-Relief Gold Eagle from the United States Mint.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt sought to revitalize American gold coin design by seeking out an artist capable of coming up with a coin design that captured the glory and majesty of the United States. That same year, he sat down with Irish-born sculptor and artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He was commissioned by President Roosevelt personally to create a new design.
In 1907, Saint-Gaudens completed his design for the original Gold Double Eagle coin. The coin featured the image of Lady Liberty on one side, and the bald eagle on the other. Saint-Gaudens was so closely associated with the design and beauty of this coin that it is often referred to as the $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle. The coin was struck from 1907 to 1933, and is widely considered the most beautiful coin in American history.
The greatest drawback to Saint-Gaudens’ design was the technology at the time. Saint-Gaudens envisioned his depiction of Lady Liberty in ultra-high relief on a stunning coin, but the United States Mint lacked the equipment and know-how to make this dream a reality. Although the coin went into production anyway, it did not come to life on each coin in the way Saint-Gaudens intended. In the ultimate tragedy, Saint-Gaudens died from illness less than six months before his design even appeared on the original coin.
In January 2009, the United States Mint used 21st century technology to bring Saint-Gaudens’ image back to life, and this time it was featured as the artist himself envisioned 100 years prior. First, the US Mint used digital mapping of original Saint-Gaudens’ plasters of the Gold Double Eagle design. The mapping was used to create an accurate digital design and aided in the die-making process.
With digital mapping completed, the US Mint realized a higher gold purity was required to succeed in bringing the design back to life. When Saint-Gaudens’ image first appeared in 1907, the US Mint used the crown-gold alloy, .900 fineness, in the production of gold coins. It wasn’t until the release of the American Gold Eagle that the Mint boosted gold purity to 22-karat, or .999, purity. In order for the Ultra High-Relief Gold Double Eagle to work, the US Mint used the more malleable 24-karat, .9999 pure, gold.
Saint-Gaudens’ original image had to be updated for use on modern American coins. On the obverse side of each coin is the image of Lady Liberty as she strides confidently forward. She holds a torch aloft in her right hand as a guiding light for the nation, and holds the olive branch of peace in her left. Above her head is the engraving “Liberty.”
The reverse side of the coin bears an altogether unique image of the bald eagle. Featured in flight from left to right, the eagle’s wings are spread so it can soar above the setting sun. Above the eagle are the engravings of “United States of America” and “Twenty Dollars.” However, alterations were made to Saint-Gaudens’ original design.
For starters, the year of minting was upgraded to reflect the 2009 year of minting for these special one-year coins. On the original coin, Liberty was surrounded by 46 stars, an accurate representation of the US states at that point in time. Two changes were required to update this for the ultra-high relief coin. First, the US Mint added four stars to reflect the current 50 US states. Second, due to the high-relief design of the coin, the stars were placed on the outer rim of the coin rather than the obverse face.
Silver.com proudly offers these brilliant coins from the United States Mint in brilliant uncirculated condition, as well as certified coins which have been graded by either the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation or Professional Coin Grading Service. These two grading services are the most highly respected organizations in the industry, and have issued various grades to these amazing ultra high-relief coins.
The NGC and PCGS use the Sheldon numeric scale, ranging from 0 to 70, to issue coins a grade. The higher the grade, the more impressive the condition of the coin. Common Ultra High Relief Gold Eagles on Silver.com have the following grades and certifications:
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If you have any questions about Ultra High Relief Gold Double Eagles from Silver.com, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our associates are available at 888-989-7223. We’re also available online through our live chat and email services.