|Precious Metal Content:||.96750 oz. Pure Gold|
In 1905, while touring the Smithsonian Institute, President Theodore Roosevelt marveled at the ancient Greek coinage on display and asked himself why American coinage seemed so "bland." Compared to Greek coinage, Roosevelt felt that our nation's coins were "artistically of atrocious hideousness." The beauty of the classic Greek coins crystallized his decision to launch new designs for the whole range of U.S. coins.
Roosevelt felt that coins were more than round bits of metal--he felt that they reflected a country's greatness. By 1905, America had grown to become the most powerful nation on earth. Roosevelt wanted to see coin designs that would reflect America's pre-eminent status.
The president contacted the artist who had created his 1905 inauguration medallion, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He asked the aging sculptor to produce a new series of coins. For a fee of $5,000, Saint-Gaudens agreed to produce a variety of coins similar to the ancient Greek coins which Roosevelt admired.
Unfortunately, Saint-Gaudens died of cancer before his task was completed, but his majestic Double Eagle $20 gold piece is considered to be the most beautiful coin of all time and, to this day, it is the most famous of all of Saint-Gaudens' works of art. On the obverse of the coin, Liberty is portrayed striding toward the viewer into the dawn of a new day. In her right hand is a torch held aloft, and in her left hand is an olive branch. The Capitol building can be seen in the background to the lower left. At the top is the word LIBERTY and around the border are 46 stars representing the states of the Union in 1907. The setting for the obverse was taken from Saint-Gaudens' much acclaimed Victory, a sculpture that is part of the Sherman Monument in New York City's Central Park. The reverse of the coin depicts an American eagle in flight above the sun's rays, with the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TWENTY DOLLARS arching across the top.
When Theodore Roosevelt first viewed Saint-Gaudens' Double Eagle design, he knew that the artist had created a coin that would be admired for ages. What he did not know, however, was that a quarter-century later, his cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, would confiscate all privately-owned gold and most of these beautiful works of art would be melted into lifeless bars.