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$20 Saint Gaudens Gold Coins (Non-Certified)

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$20 Saint Gaudens Gold Coins (Non-Certified)

The $20 Saint-Gaudens gold coin is arguably the best known pre-1933 U.S. gold coin today.

The coin gets its name from noted artist and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to beautify U.S. gold coins. His success in doing so is widely acknowledged.

Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Value

The value of the $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Coin depends on:

  • its condition,
  • its year, and
  • sometimes the mintmark.

Certain date and mintmark varieties have become exceedingly rare. This is especially true in high grades, which are even more attractive to serious coin collectors.

No matter its condition, each double eagle contains 0.9675 troy ounce of pure gold by weight and is struck from .900 fine (90% pure) gold.

Brief Numismatic History

Minted from 1907 to 1933, the $20 Saint-Gaudens was the last issued U.S. double eagle for regular use in commerce.

In fact, no other gold legal tender coin was produced by the United States Mint for more than 50 years, until 1984.

All gold coins minted in the U.S. since this time are either commemoratives or gold bullion for investment purposes. Meanwhile, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle was a bona fide circulating coin.

Today, the majestic view of Lady Liberty on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle has become iconic. You will find the same design on the obverse of all sizes of the U.S. Mint’s modern Gold Eagle gold bullion coins.

Controversial From the Start

The origin story of the $20 Saint is filled with controversy and infighting at the mint. In fact, the design almost failed to make it off the ground after two years of work.

The Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time, Charles Barber, openly resented the whole process. Barber objected to President Roosevelt's decision to use an artist from outside the mint to redesign the nation's coins.

Many of Barber's colleagues agreed. This adversarial predisposition led Barber to antagonize Saint-Gaudens at every opportunity.

Saint-Gaudens was already a renowned sculptor, but he lacked experience working with coinage. His deteriorating health didn't help matters.

Translating the original Saint-Gaudens design to a coin faced many problems. The dramatic high relief of the design was very artistic, but proved unsuited for coins. The relief of a coin must be shallow enough to stack neatly.

Moreover, the original design was too large to the fit the diameter of a double eagle. As a result, the earliest strikes bore a "wire rim," lacking the raised border that helps protect a coin from wear.

Barber's complaints were well-founded, yet at times he went out of his way to impede the process. (Not surprisingly, Barber had his own competing prototype for the new $20 gold double eagle design.) Ultimately, the adjustment of the Saint-Gaudens design to fit the coins was successful shortly after the artist's death in 1907.

Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagles Today

Several other controversies followed the Saint-Gaudens double eagle even after its creator passed away. One even involved the eccentric King Farouk of Egypt!

An executive order in 1933 virtually outlawed ownership of gold coins in the United States. Widespread melting of double eagles followed. Thus, the original mintages for many year-date issues don't tell the entire story of how scarce they are today.

Check out our huge inventory of $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles at Gainesville Coins! You can choose between coins certified by third-party grading services or "raw" coins that have not been graded.