While the image of Liberty advancing in front of the sun’s rays is most associated today with the American Gold Eagle series of coins, its design dates back over 110 years to the double eagle gold coin design of famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Saint-Gaudens had been approached by President Theodore Roosevelt about redesigning US coinage, which Roosevelt believed to be hideous, particularly the gold coinage. It would end up being one of Saint-Gaudens’ last works, with mintage of the coins beginning in 1907, the same year Saint-Gaudens died.
The gold double eagle quickly developed a reputation for being one of the most beautiful American coins created. While it was minted from 1907-1916 and again from 1920-1933, very few circulated in the United States. Twenty dollars was a lot of money back then, so often only the very rich could afford to use those coins in large transactions.
Many Saint-Gaudens double eagles were held in bank vaults to back gold certificates and never saw the light of day. Many others were shipped abroad to satisfy foreign demand for gold. And when FDR banned the private ownership of gold in 1933, any Saint-Gaudens double eagles still in bank vaults were turned over to the government and melted down into gold bars.
Because of that, many years of Saint-Gaudens double eagles exist in numbers far less than the official mintage figures would suggest. And because they didn’t circulate very much, they are often found in much better condition than older gold coins. But despite so many having been melted down, premiums on Saint-Gaudens double eagles remain low. Expect to pay 3-4% from most trustworthy vendors, although some of those coins may have been cleaned.
Like most older gold circulating coinage, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle is not available for investment through a gold or precious metals IRA due to its 90% gold content. Those investors who enjoy the beauty of Saint-Gaudens’ design and want to invest in gold can do so by investing in the American Gold Eagle series of coins, or in the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle gold coin.
- Purity: 90% gold
- Weight: 33.431 g
- Gold Content: 0.9675 troy oz.
- Diameter: 34.1 mm
- Thickness: 2.41 mm