The motto on our gold coins is “In God We Trust.” This motto was added during the civil war and appeared on most of our “Liberty Head” coins from 1867 to 1907. In 1907 Theodore Roosevelt decided to have our gold coins redesigned in order to create a more beautiful coin, like those of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures. This coin is called the Saint Gaudens coin, after its designer Augustus Saint Gauden.
During the design process, Roosevelt asked that the motto be excluded. He knew that the men who used them in the West, were using them in brothels, saloons and gambling and thus he felt that the Lord’s name should not be associated with these activities. He expressed this feeling to reverend Roland C. Dryer in a letter dated November 11, 1907.
“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto [In God We Trust] on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit. Any use which tends to cheapen it, and above all, any use which tends to secure it being treated in a spirit of levity, is from every standpoint profoundly to be regretted.”
Teddy Roosevelt’s wishes were granted and from 1907 to mid-way through 1908 and the coins were minted without the motto. It wasn’t until Congress got together and decided that they wanted the motto on our coins. They felt that it should be known that our nation believed in God and that it should be clearly stated on our currency. In 1908 the motto was put back on, therefore there are St. Gaudens coins that are minted both ways. There exists today a 1907 no motto, a 1908 no motto and a 1908 with motto. From 1908 to 1933 the coins continued to be minted with the motto.
Only roughly 5.2 million Saint Gaudens were minted without the motto, compared to over 65 million that were minted with the motto. This makes the no motto a rarer gold coin in relationship to mintages; however these coins are still fairly easy to acquire. There are rarer issues that exist, for example, there are roughly 10 1933 Saints know to exist.