Recognizing the brilliance of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' work,
the U.S. Treasury in 1986 placed the Saint obverse design on the obverse of the American Eagle gold bullion coins,
minted to give investors an attractive way to buy gold bullion. They've been minted each year since then.
Interestingly, then Secretary of the Treasury James Baker reportedly ordered the Saint Gaudens' Liberty to be slimmed
down. As you can see by comparing the two coins pictured above, Liberty's face, arms, and legs are slightly but
noticeably thinner on the Gold Eagles than on the Saints. The reverse of the Gold Eagles uses a different, original,
and in the eyes of many less attractive design, showing a male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest
containing a female eagle and her hatchlings.
Gold Eagles are minted in one, one-half, one-quarter, and one-tenth troy ounce sizes. Though they don't circulate,
they officially are coins because they have face values--of $50, $25, $10, and $5 respectively. They're bought
and sold, however, based on their gold content, with the one-ounce coin costing in the vicinity of $300.
The one-ounce Gold Eagle, an example of which is pictured above, is approximately the size of a Saint. It's 32.7mm
in diameter versus 34mm for a Saint. It contains 1.0 troy oz. of gold versus 0.9675 troy oz. for a Saint. Whereas
Saints consist of 21.6 karat gold (90 percent gold, between 9 and 10 percent copper, and up to 1 percent silver),
Gold Eagles consist of 22 karat gold (91.67 percent gold, 5.33 percent copper, and 3 percent silver). Because of
the slight difference in alloy, Saints are typically slightly more red in color than Gold Eagles, as the above
Coin collectors revel in these kinds of small differences. At its highest level, coin appreciation can be spiritual,
focusing the attention, transcending the material. But coins such as Saints make you covet ... I want, I want,
But wait ... there's more.