The Reasons













What in the world is it about coins like these that bring such stratospheric prices?

Partly it's the eye appeal. The Saint-Gaudens twenty dollar gold piece is regarded by many as the most beautiful coin minted, anywhere, at any time. It combines 21.6 karat gold, or .900 fine (the remaining ten percent is copper), a huge size (diameter of 34mm, or about 1-1/3 inches, among the largest of any circulating gold coins in history), and a classically beautiful design.

Partly it's the rarity. Twenty dollar gold pieces are commonly called double eagles, and those designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens are commonly called Saints. But there's nothing common about these coins. Only about two dozen of these Ultra High Relief pattern coins were minted. All are proofs, struck with special care. None entered circulation. Reportedly, Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. president responsible for the coin's existence, kept a few, two were melted, and the rest went to Mint and government officials connected with the work. Even rarer are the Ultra High Relief experimental coins, which were struck on small and very thick planchets, having the diameter of ten-dollar gold pieces. All but two of these odd-looking coins were melted, with both today at the Smithsonian Institution, though rumor has it that one additional piece may be in private hands.

Partly it's the allure of gold. Gold shines more warmly than any other numismatic metal, like the sun. As the least chemically reactive metal commonly used for coins, it keeps its glow too, not fazed by its surroundings, satisfied to stay just the way it is, for millennia. Gold in its pure state is very vulnerable to human contact, though--touch this most malleable of metals too hard and it will dent. It's best not to get too passionate about it. With an atomic number of 79, gold is extremely dense, each atom jam-packed with protons, neutrons, and electrons. You can feel the heft of those minuscule atomic particles when you pick up a gold coin. And gold of course is rare, showing up in small amounts only five times per billion in the earth's crust, typically hidden away amidst copper and lead, quartz and pyrite.

Partly it's the






The Appeal




Flat Reliefs




More Info

Other glomworthy coins:

Oldest Coins

 Athenian Owls

Alexander the Great Coins

Medusa Coins

Thracian Tetradrachms

House of Constantine

Draped Bust Coins

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles

Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.