Coins, Currency, and Medals
The Museum possesses one of the largest numismatic collections in the world. The collections include over 1 million objects, comprising coins, medals, decorations, and pieces of paper money. Among the many great rarities here are some of the world’s oldest coins, created 2,700 years ago. But the collection also includes the latest innovations in electronic monetary exchange, as well as beads, wampum, and other commodities once used as money. A special strength lies in artifacts that illustrate the development of money and medals in the United States. The American section includes many rare and significant coins, such as two of three known examples of the world's most valuable coin, the 1933 double eagle $20 gold piece.
"Coins, Currency, and Medals - Overview" showing 44 items.
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- In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to lead an effort to redesign American coinage. Saint-Gaudens developed a design that many consider the most beautiful American coin ever conceived. Work on the production version of the coin progressed through the winter and spring of 1907. Sadly, the artist himself now suffered from cancer, and would die of the disease at the beginning of August.
- It was left to his assistant, Henry Hering, to finish the work his master had begun. And Hering would be dogged every step of the way by a jealous competitor, Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber.
- Towards the end of December 1907, this new, very beautiful gold coin entered circulation. It was closely based on Saint-Gaudens's original concept, complete with the forward-striding Liberty and the eagle in flight. But Henry Hering had lowered the relief by a small but crucial extent. The coin still could not be struck, once, on a high-speed press. But it could be struck, thrice, on a slower-speed machine.
- Under Hering's directions, and over Barber's objections, slightly more than twelve thousand "high relief" double eagles were minted in Philadelphia during the final weeks of 1907. Saint-Gaudens, Henry Hering, and Theodore Roosevelt had proved that a high-relief American coin could be made. Having won the battle, Roosevelt may have tired of the war. He had a good deal else on his mind, including upcoming elections, and the voyage of America's Great White Fleet around the world.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- obverse designer
- Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
- U.S. Mint. Philadelphia
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center