United States Mint Moves Forward to Create a Modern Ultra-High
Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin
WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson has
authorized the United States Mint to issue a one-ounce ultra-high
relief 24-karat gold coin, creating a 2009 version of what
many have called the most beautiful gold piece ever made:
the 1907 Augustus Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle. The mintage
of the new coin will be unlimited for one year. Among the
production specifications approved by Secretary Paulson are
the new coin's business-strike finish and a diameter of 27
Only 2009-dated coins will be minted. The coins will go on
sale in early 2009, although sales may continue into 2010
if inventory exists.
United States Mint Director Ed Moy announced at a meeting
of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) on March
13, 2008, that the agency planned to recreate the Saint-Gaudens
1907 ultra-high relief $20 gold piece commonly referred to
as the "Double Eagle." The initial proposal by the
United States Mint to develop this 24-karat gold coin had
also been authorized by Secretary Paulson.
Through advancements in technology, the United States Mint
can today produce the ultra-high relief coin envisioned by
Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the early 20th century. A 27-millimeter
diameter gold blank, more than 50% thicker than other United
States Mint one-ounce 24-karat gold coins, will be used, because
of its historical significance and the opportunity it provides
to achieve the greater depth and relief to which Saint-Gaudens
In most respects, the new legal tender gold coin will authentically
reproduce the ultra-high relief gold piece. The obverse design
(heads side) will be based on the obverse of the original
Saint-Gaudens design executed in 1907. The reverse (tails
side) also will be based on those pieces and will include
14 sun rays. The edge of the coin will feature the same raised
edge-lettering as the 1907 pieces. The edge-lettering features
the inscription "E Pluribus Unum" with stars serving
as delimiters between the letters.
As approved by Secretary Paulson, the new coin will have
several modern elements. The obverse of the new coin will
feature 50 stars, instead of the original 46 stars on the
obverse (heads side), which represented the 46 states in the
Union in 1907. The CCAC recommended that the obverse design
be modified in this manner to honor all 50 states in the Union
today. Also, responding to the recommendation of the Commission
of Fine Arts, the United States Mint will inscribe the Roman
numerals "MMIX" (2009) in a style similar to the
original Saint-Gaudens design. Additionally, the inscription
"In God We Trust" will appear on the reverse design
of the new coin because current law requires placement of
this inscription on all U.S. coinage.
The new coin is authorized under 31 U.S.C. § 5112(i)(4)(C),
which allows the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe program
procedures and specifications for minting and issuing new
gold coins. This provision also gives the Secretary the discretion
to select each such coin's designs, varieties, quantities,
denomination, and inscriptions.
The United States Mint will continue to mint and issue the
24-karat American Buffalo Gold Bullion and Proof Coins, the
24-karat First Spouse Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coins, and
the 22-karat (91.67% fineness) American Eagle Gold Bullion,
Proof and Uncirculated Coins.
1907 Ultra-High Relief Gold Coin Designs
In 1907 Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculpted what many have called
the most beautiful piece ever created by the United States.
There were four versions of the Saint-Gaudens $20 gold piece
created in 1907. The first was a 34-millimeter diameter coin
in ultra-high relief, with the date in Roman numerals. Approximately
20 of these coins were produced before it was determined that
the minting process was too arduous for mass production. Most
of the 20 coins are in private hands.
A second version with similar design elements and ultra-high
relief was minted on a 27-millimeter diameter blank that had
about twice the thickness of a $10 gold piece. However, the
United States Mint realized that there was no authority to
issue coins using those specifications. Of these gold pieces,
there are two still known to exist, and they are housed at
the Smithsonian Institution.
The third version returned to the 34-millimeter diameter.
The design remained similar, but was executed in high relief,
rather than ultra-high relief. Approximately 12,000 of these
coins were minted and issued. The fourth and final version,
which was minted at the end of 1907, lowered the relief even
more, and replaced the Roman numerals with Arabic numerals.
These coins were minted in mass quantities for circulation.