Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Medal, 1905

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Theodore Roosevelt met sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the 1890s, when T.R. was an aspiring young politician, and Saint-Gaudens was establishing a reputation as a brilliant artist. When Roosevelt was elected President in 1904 and needed an inaugural medal, he gave the commission to Saint-Gaudens after rejecting the standard, unmemorable medal typically produced for this occasion by the United States Mint.
Saint-Gaudens's results shattered precedent. The piece was modern in all senses of the word. There was no attempt to beautify or romanticize the President's head on the obverse, yet the image clearly conveyed vision and power. The reverse was, if anything, even more groundbreaking. The magnificent, left-facing eagle epitomized authority and presence, while displaying a classical ancient style. (The same eagle is used on the Saint-Gaudens $10 in 1907). This bird unquestionably ruled all it surveyed.
Saint-Gaudens's success with this medal convinced Roosevelt that the artist was the partner he needed to collaborate on a pet project: the redesign of America's money. Saint-Gaudens signed on, and the plotting began. But the potential for trouble hovered on the horizon: this medal had been struck, not by the United States Mint in Philadelphia, but by Tiffany & Company in New York. If the Mint hadn't produced Saint-Gaudens's medal, would it agree to produce any of his coins?
date made
associated date
associated person
Roosevelt, Theodore
Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
Weinman, Adolph A.
Tiffany & Company
Saint-Gaudens, Augustus
place made
United States
associated place
United States
Physical Description
bronze (overall material)
overall: .5 cm x 7.4 cm; 3/16 in x 2 29/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Presidential Inauguration of 1905
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Legendary Coins
Coins, Currency and Medals
The Value of Money
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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