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Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1933

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1933 - New-York Historical Society

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1933

The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1933 has a nominal value of a 20-dollar gold coin. Although 445,500 specimens of this Saint-Gaudens double eagle were minted, none were ever officially circulated, and all but two were ordered melted down. However, twenty more are known to have been rescued from melting as they were stolen. Nineteen of these coins were later recovered by the Secret Service, who destroyed nine of them, making this one of the world’s rarest coins.

The two intentionally spared coins are in the U.S. National Numismatic Collection. One is in the hands of a private owner who paid nearly US$8 million for it in 2002 and ten others are held in Fort Knox.

The designer, Saint-Gaudens took a great interest in the art of the coin. He designed the $20 gold piece, the double eagle coin, for the US Mint in 1905–1907, and it is considered one of the most beautiful American coins ever issued.

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

The 1907 Roman numeral ultra high relief double eagle, Saint-Gaudens’ design, from the National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History

Chosen by Theodore Roosevelt to redesign the coinage of the nation, Saint-Gaudens produced the ultra high-relief $20 gold piece that was adapted into a flattened-down version by the United States Mint. The ultra high-relief coin required too many strikes to bring up the details and did not stack properly. They were deemed unfit for commerce and yet, today they are highly sought-after.

Numismatics

Numismatics is the study and collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money and objects of exchange. The discipline includes the study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods. Many objects have been used in ancient times as a circulating currency such as cowry shells, precious metals, cocoa beans, large stones and gems.

Today, most transactions take place in the form of payment with either inherent, standardised, or credit value. Numismatic value is the value in excess of the monetary value conferred by law, which is known as the collector value. Economic and historical studies of money’s use and development are an part of the study of money’s physical embodiment.

Throughout its history, money itself has been made to be a scarce good. Many materials have been used to form money, from naturally rare precious metals and cowry shells to entirely artificial money, called fiat money, such as banknotes. Modern money is essentially a token. Paper currency is perhaps the most common type of physical money today. However, goods such as gold or silver retain many of the essential properties of money, such as volatility and limited supply. However, these goods are not controlled by one single authority.

There are many museums devoted to collecting, exhibiting and explaining the history of Money and payment systems used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods. Some of the key museums that have significant collections include:

Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1933

  • Title:               Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1933
  • Designer:        Augustus Saint-Gaudens
  • Mass:              33.431 g
  • Diameter:       34.1 mm (1.34252 in)
  • Thickness:      2.0 mm (0.07874 in)
  • Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
  •  Minted:         1933
  • Museum:        New-York Historical Society

Augustus Saint-Gaudens

  • Name:         Augustus Saint-Gaudens
  • Born:           1848 – Dublin, Ireland
  • Died:           August 3, 1907 (aged 59) – Cornish, New Hampshire
  • Nationality: American

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“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”
– Orville Wright

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Photo Credit: By Joyofmuseums (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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