The $20 Saint Gaudens Numismatic Coins

No other numismatic gold coin enjoys a heritage richer than the $20 Saint Gaudens. Its production was ordered at the turn of the 20th century by President Theodore Roosevelt, under the craftsmanship of Augustus St. Gaudens. It is a twenty dollar gold coin, or Double Eagle, and was produced by the United States Mint from 1907 to 1933. Saint Gaudens was a renowned sculpture of his time. He was commissioned to beautify American coinage. The double eagle design is considered by many as the best American gold coin design and is currently used on the American Eagle gold bullion coin.

$20 Saint Gaudens: Specification

The $20 Saint Gaudens coins weigh 33.436 grams (516 grains) and are 34mm in diameter and 2mm in thickness. Their gold content measures around 30.093 grams (90% gold, 10% copper). Each coin contains the Saint Gaudens mark on the obverse of the coin under the date. The design of the coins shows Lady Liberty holding the Torch of Freedom and an olive branch with the United States Capitol in the background on the obverse and a Bald Eagle flying over the sun on the reverse.

$20 Saint Gaudens: History

The first batch of the coins were minted in 1907. At that time, the coinage laws of the US did not require the motto ‘In God We Trust’ to be etched on the coins. In 1908, the Congress passed an act requiring the use of the motto compulsorily on all coins, including the eagle and double eagle. The reverse of the Saint Gaudens coin was then revised to incorporate the changes.

The year 1933 saw another event involving the Saint Gaudens coins. That year saw President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordering the United States to abondon the gold standard. This lead to the mass melting of numismatic coins already minted that year. Only a few coins escaped this fate, which gave them the rare status. A single coin from that batch sold for $7,590,020 in 2002 at an auction by Sotheby’s in New York City.

$20 Saint Gaudens: Present Value

To study the present appreciation of such numismatic coins, we can take the example of the 1920-S Eagle. It has enjoyed an average annual appreciation of 11.35%. This coin was bought for $85,000 in 1979 and auctionioned for $605,000 in 2010. The fine design by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and exceptional mintage provide such numismatic coins a very wide market.

To study such factors, an educational event called ‘Augustus Saint-Gaudens: The Renaissance of American Coinage’ is scheduled for August 15-18, 2010 at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. The seminar is part of the American Numismatic Association’s Destination Education program and will offer a unique opportunity to study the life and work of the great designer-sculptor in the New Hampshire setting, where he created his work and made his home.