Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Medal, 1905


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: 1905Associated Date: 1905-03-05

Associated Person: Roosevelt, TheodoreSaint-Gaudens, AugustusWeinman, Adolph A.Maker: Tiffany & CompanyDesigner: Saint-Gaudens, Augustus

Place Made: United StatesAssociated Place: United States

Related Event: Presidential Inauguration of 1905


See more items in: Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection, Coins, Numismatics, Coins, Currency and Medals, Legendary Coins

Exhibition: Value of Money

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Web Publication:

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

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0142.02Accession Number: 2005.0142Catalog Number: 2005.0142.02

Object Name: medalOther Terms: medal; Presidential

Physical Description: bronze (overall material)Measurements: overall: .5 cm x 7.4 cm; 3/16 in x 2 29/32 in


Record Id: nmah_950153

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