American Eagle and Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

American Eagle and Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

The American Eagle Gold Proof Coins are special versions of the official bullion coins issued by the United States Mint beginning in 1986. These coins are designed for collectors and are available in four different sizes: 1 ounce, ½ ounce, ¼ ounce and 1/10 ounce. Each American Eagle Gold Proof coin contains 91.67 percent (22 karat) gold. The weight and diameter of the coins vary depending on their face value. They are minted at the U.S. Mint at West Point and bear the “W” mintmark.

The obverse of the coins features the image of Liberty, which has been used on gold coins since 1986. The design is inspired by the famous $20 gold coin “Double Eagle” from 1907, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In 2021, the Mint celebrated the 35th anniversary of the American Eagle Coin Program with a design update. To achieve a closer resemblance to Saint-Gaudens’ original vision, the Mint used historic materials such as the original bronze casting. Changes were made to elements such as the Capitol building, stars, torch, sunbeams and other design elements.

From 2021, the reverse of the coins will show the portrait of an eagle. To enhance the security of the new coins, additional security features have been incorporated, including a change in the edge pattern, which now features a fluted edge.

From 1986 to 2021, the reverse of the coins featured an eagle carrying an olive branch and flying over a nest containing a second eagle and its young. This motif, designed by sculptor Miley Busiek, has been maintained throughout these years.

In 2020, the U.S. Mint released a special edition American Eagle Gold Proof Coin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the United States issued a special edition of the American Eagle Gold Proof with the mintmark “V75”. The outline of the mint mark represents the shape of the Rainbow Basin at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

What is a Saint-Gaudens gold coin?

The Saint-Gaudens gold coin, also known as the Saint-Gaudens-double eagle, is a twenty-dollar gold coin minted by the United States Mint between 1907 and 1933. It was created by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who designed both the obverse and reverse of the coin. It is known for its aesthetics and is considered by many to be the most beautiful coin in the history of the United States.

Who was Augustus Saint-Gaudens?

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, born March 1, 1848 and died August 3, 1907, was an important American sculptor who belonged to the Beaux-Arts movement and embodied the spirit of the American Renaissance. He came from an Irish-French family and grew up in New York City before embarking on a journey to Europe to further his artistic education and studies. Upon his return to New York, he gained wide recognition for his sculptures honoring American Civil War heroes, many of which still exist today.

Saint-Gaudens and numismatics

Saint-Gaudens also applied his design skills to the field of numismatics. He referred to his early relief portraits as “medallions” and had a deep interest in the art of coinage. One of his notable contributions was the design of the $20 gold piece, known as the double eagle coin, which he designed for the U.S. Mint between 1905 and 1907. Despite some changes made for minting purposes, this coin is still considered one of the most beautiful American coins ever issued.

Saint-Gaudens was chosen by Theodore Roosevelt to revamp the nation’s coinage in the early 20th century, and created a version of the $20 gold piece with extremely high relief. These coins required up to 11 strikes to bring out the intricate details, and only a small number, about 20, were struck in 1907. However, due to stacking problems and unsuitability for daily use, they were considered unsuitable for circulation. Today, these coins with extreme high relief are highly sought after, and one of them fetched the incredible price of $2,990,000 at an auction in 2005.

To address stacking and practicality issues, a high-relief version of the coin was created that requires eight fewer mintages than the ultra-high-relief version. A total of 12,317 of these high relief coins were minted, which are currently in high demand among collectors. Finally, a version with normal relief was developed, which was produced from 1907 to 1933. This particular design, known as the “ultra-high relief” $20 coin, was successfully minted in 24-karat gold, resulting in the production of 115,178 coins. The US Mint issued this coin in 2009.

Who was the model for the St. Gaudens gold coin?

Hettie Anderson, an African American model, played an important role in the design of iconic coins by famous artists such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Adolph Weinman. She was the preferred Liberty chosen for Saint-Gaudens’ Eagle and Double Eagle coins, as well as Weinman’s Walking Liberty half-dollar coin.

Interestingly, the identity of the stunning female figure depicted on the eagle coins remained a mystery to most people for many years, with the exception of Saint-Gaudens’ immediate family, friends and colleagues. Saint-Gaudens’ family intentionally kept this information secret, possibly because of Anderson’s background. Fortunately, the nearly century-old secret was revealed, and Hettie Anderson finally received the recognition she deserved.

While other models were credited for Weinman’s walking Liberty half-dollar coin, Weinman himself described Hettie’s appearance without specifically mentioning her name, probably because she was African American.

Born in South Carolina in 1873, Hettie Anderson was a successful model who later moved to New York City. Her career was quite unusual for a dark-skinned woman at that time. Not only did she pose as the Liberty figure for the Saint-Gaudens twenty-dollar gold coin, but she also represented the Victory figure for the Sherman Monument.

Where does the name “Double Eagle” come from?

The coin got its name because the original Gold Eagle, minted starting in 1795, had a face value of $10. Since this particular coin has a face value of $20, it effectively represents twice the value, hence the name “Double Eagle”.

American Eagle Gold Proof Coin Specifications

The composition of the coins is 91.67% gold, 3% silver and the rest is copper. They have a fluted edge. The weight and diameter vary for the different sizes: one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce and tenth ounce.

The one-ounce coin with a face value of $50 has a diameter of 1.287 inches (32.70 mm). It contains one troy ounce of gold and weighs 1.0909 troy ounces (33.931 g).

The half-ounce coin with a face value of $25 has a diameter of 1.063 inches (27.00 mm). It contains 0.5000 troy ounces of gold and weighs 0.5455 troy ounces (16.966 g).

The quarter ounce coin with a face value of $10 has a diameter of 22.00 mm (0.866 inch). It contains 0.2500 troy ounces of gold and weighs 0.2727 troy ounces (8.483 g).

The tenth ounce coin with a face value of $5 has a diameter of 16.50 mm (0.650 inch). It contains 0.1000 troy ounces of gold and weighs 0.1091 troy ounces (3.393 g).

The United States Mint

The United States Mint, under the Department of the Treasury, is responsible for producing coins used in commerce within the United States. It is also responsible for the regulation of bullion traffic. It is important to note, however, that the production of paper money is not the responsibility of the United States Mint, but of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The first United States Mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792, and subsequently other facilities were established in various locations, each marking its coins with its own mint mark. There are currently four active mints producing coins: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco and West Point. Currently, more than 1,600 employees work at six United States Mint facilities.

United States Mint facilities

Washington, D.C. – Headquarters

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – facility for production

San Francisco, California – facility for production

Denver, Colorado – facility for production

West Point, New York – production facility

Fort Knox, Kentucky – repository for gold bars

Does the US Mint offer guided tours?

The Mint offers free personal tours of its Philadelphia and Denver facilities, where visitors can learn about current coin-making methods and learn about the Mint’s historical background. During these tours, participants will gain insight into the intricate craftsmanship involved in every step of the minting process, from the initial designs and sculptures to the actual striking of the coins. For security reasons, other facilities do not offer tours.

The United States Mint and its own police

Did you know that the United States Mint has its own police force? Yes, indeed! In fact, it is one of the oldest federal police forces in the country. United States Mint Police officials have the important responsibility of protecting more than $100 billion worth of Treasury and government assets, which include the valuable gold reserves stored at Fort Knox.

The American Eagle and the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle are two iconic gold coins with great historical significance to the United States. Both the American Eagle and the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle represent the artistic and cultural heritage of the United States. They serve as a tangible reminder of the nation’s values, ideals and history. Whether admired for their artistic beauty or prized for their precious metal content, these coins continue to captivate collectors and enthusiasts around the world.

Some of our favorites of the American Eagle and the St. Gaudens Double Eagle:

USA – 20 Dollar – American Eagle – 2009 – Ultra High Relief – 1oz Gold

USA – American Eagle – 1992 – Gold 4 Coins Proof Set

American Lady Liberty 225. Anniversary 2017 1 Oz

St. Gaudens double eagle 1908 20 dollars

20 Dollar Liberty Head Double Eagle 1867 S PCGS XF40

St. Gaudens double eagle 1924 20 dollars

St. Gaudens double eagle USA 1925 20 US Dollar