20 Dollars, United States, 1907 (Ultra High Relief Pattern)

Description (Brief):

One (1) 20 dollar coin, ultra high relief pattern

Description (Brief)

United States, 1907

Description (Brief)

Obverse Image: Full-length Liberty holding a torch in her right hand and olive branch in left. Capitol Dome in lower left; rays of sun in background; stars around rim.

Description (Brief)

Obverse Text: LIBERTY / MCMVII

Description (Brief)

Reverse Image: Eagle flying through rays of sun.

Description (Brief)

Reverse Text: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / TWENTY DOLLARS

Description (Brief)

Edge: E PLURIBUS UNUM divided by stars.

Description (Brief)

General Information: Ultra high relief pattern double eagle with a lettered edge. No Motto.

In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign American coinage. As Saint-Gaudens began work on the project, there was never any possibility that he would restrict himself to well-traveled artistic paths. Playing it safe was against his nature and that of the president for whom he toiled.

As a result of Saint-Gaudens's vision and Roosevelt's persistence, Americans got their most beautiful double eagle, one of the most artistic pieces of money ever struck. Instead of a head or a static, seated goddess, Saint-Gaudens's Lady Liberty strides towards us, the dawn at her back. She represents the morning of the Republic, full of possibilities and hope.

She bears a torch in her right hand, an olive branch in her left: offerings of freedom and peace. The law said that Saint-Gaudens had to use an eagle for his reverse design, and so he did. But what an eagle! Nothing like it had ever been seen before. The naturalistic bird, in such high relief that it threatens to soar out of the circular space that seeks to enclose it, is all movement and grace.

Saint-Gaudens and his patron surely knew that this coin was impossible to make in mass quantities. The high relief came at a high price: it took nine blows from the hydraulic coining press to strike each one. Charles E. Barber, the Mint's chief engraver, strenuously objected out of jealousy, but he had a point.

This is no way to make money for mass circulation. But to Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens, the chief engraver and other critics lacked vision. This ultra-high relief double eagle was intended to show what artistry and technology could do when afforded the chance. Fewer than two dozen of the ultra-high relief coins were minted, in February and March of 1907.

Date Made: 1907

Mint: U.S. Mint. PhiladelphiaDesigner: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus

Place Made: United States

See more items in: Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection, United States Double Eagle, Coins, Currency and Medals, Josiah K. Lilly Jr. Collection

Exhibition: Value of Money

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Web Publication: http://americanhistory.si.edu/coins/glossary.cfm

Related Publication: Feingold, Ellen R.. Value of Money, The, Glossary of Coins and Currency Terms

Credit Line: Estate of Josiah K. Lilly

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: NU.68.159.0376Accession Number: 283645Catalog Number: 68.159.0376

Object Name: coin

Physical Description: gold (overall metal)0 (overall die axis)0 (overall die axis measurement)struck (overall production method)Measurements: overall: .4 cm x 3.4 cm; 5/32 in x 1 11/32 in

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ab-35de-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1100219

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