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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. 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. While all contemporary gold coins produced in the U.S. since this time are either commemorative in nature or simply gold bullion for investment purposes, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle was a bona fide circulating coin.

The coin is named for noted artist and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to beautify U.S. gold coins. His success in doing so is widely acknowledged and the majestic view of Lady Liberty on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle has become iconic. Today, the same design is found on the obverse of all sizes of the U.S. Mint’s modern Gold Eagle gold bullion coins.

The value of the $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold Coin will be impacted by its condition, year, and sometimes the mintmark. This is because certain date and mintmark varieties have become exceedingly rare, especially in high grades, and are therefore 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.

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

Charles Barber, the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time, shared with many of his colleagues a degree of resentment at President Roosevelt for commissioning an artist from outside the mint to redesign the nation's coins. This adversarial predisposition, combined with Saint-Gaudens' lack of experience with coinage and deteriorating health, presented several challenges that came close to derailing the new double eagle design.

Aside from being antagonized at every opportunity by Barber, the original Saint-Gaudens designs had a number of problems. The dramatic high relief of the design was striking from an artistic perspective, but proved unsuited for coins, which much have a shallow enough relief to stack neatly. Moreover, the original design was too large to fit the diameter of a double eagle, resulting in the earliest strikes bearing a "wire rim," lacking the raised border that helps protect the coin from wear.

Although Barber's complaints about the difficulties of translating Saint-Gaudens' design to a coin were well-founded, the engraver at times 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.

Due to widespread melting of double eagles after an Executive Order in 1933 that virtually outlawed ownership of gold coins int he U.S., the original mintages for many year-date issues don't tell the entire story of how scarce they are today. Check out Gainesville Coins' huge inventory of $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles! You can choose between coins certified by third-party grading services or "raw" coins that have not been graded.