Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection Presents Traveling Exhibition “Good as Gold—America’s Double Eagles”

July 27, 2009

The National Museum of American History is taking Smithsonian numismatic highlights out of Washington, D.C., and into communities across the United States with a new traveling display “Good as Gold—America’s Double Eagles.” The exhibition tells the story of the evolution of the $20 gold coin, the largest coin to circulate in the United States.

“Good as Gold” begins its national tour at the American Numismatic Association’s 2009 World’s Fair of Money in Los Angeles, Aug. 5-9. The exhibition will subsequently be displayed at ANA conventions in Ft. Worth, Texas; Boston; and Sacramento, Calif., and will tour until 2011. It is made possible with funding from the ANA in a continuation of a long-term partnership with the museum.

The exhibition draws from the National Numismatic Collection, which consists of more than 1.5 million objects, including coins, medals and paper currency and preserves the role of money in economic history. It features 20 objects that highlight the birth, expansion and extinction of the $20 gold coin in America. The featured piece is an ultra-rare coin from 1849, the first $20 coin struck by the U.S. Mint during the California gold rush. Weighing in at more than an ounce, this denomination played a major role in American commerce for more than 80 years. In addition to federal issues, the display features a variety of privately minted $20 coins with nontraditional imagery and high-relief coins designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

“The $20 double eagle coin’s evolution through time is one of the fascinating aspects of American numismatic history,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “To display the collection across the United States is an opportunity for Americans to learn more about the country’s monetary beginnings.” 

“Good as Gold—America’s Double Eagles” provides a visual and chronological account of America’s changing commerce and culture. The exhibition includes coins issued from mints across the United States, including San Francisco, New Orleans, Carson City, Nev., and Denver. These coins span the course of 50 years. “Good as Gold” also examines the redesign of the double eagle, an initiative taken on by President Theodore Roosevelt in efforts to make American currency more visually evocative.

“The rare double eagle coins displayed in this exhibition are American numismatic treasures,” said Larry Shepherd, executive director of the ANA. “It is our privilege to work with the Smithsonian to provide a true museum-quality experience at ANA conventions. There is a rich history that can be seen through these coins, and it’s is our great pleasure to share this experience with thousands of people throughout the country.”

The ANA’s 2009 World’s Fair of Money gives visitors the chance to see some of the world’s most beautiful and valuable coins and interact with top numismatists; it features more than 1,100 dealers and vendors, world-class exhibits, displays from 15 mints from four continents and education presentations. The Los Angeles Convention Center is located at 1201 Figueroa Street downtown.

The ANA is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. With nearly 33,000 members, the association serves the academic community, collectors and the general public with an interest in numismatics. The ANA helps all people discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of programs, including its education and outreach, museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. The museum shines new light on American history after having been dramatically transformed by a two-year renovation. To learn more about the museum, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).