legendary Coins and Currency
Exhibition Collection Search Timeline Game Visit
Legendary FirstsLegendary BeautiesUnexpected LegendsGolden LegendsLegends of the Human Spirit
Enter the Online Exhibition (Flash Required)
Image of United States, 20 Dollars, 1907
View details Switch between front and back
Zoom using Flash

Purchase this image

Materials: Gold
Measurement: Dia. 34.2 mm; 3mm Wt. 33.460 g
Source: Delano
Note: Breen 7358

United States, 20 Dollars, 1907

In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to lead an effort to redesign American coinage. Saint-Gaudens developed a design that many consider the most beautiful American coin ever conceived, the Ultra High Relief $20 piece. Work on the production version of the coin progressed through the winter and spring of 1907. Sadly, the artist himself now suffered from cancer, and would die of the disease at the beginning of August.

It was left to his assistant, Henry Hering, to finish the work his master had begun. And Hering would be dogged every step of the way by a jealous competitor, Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber.

Towards the end of December 1907, this new, very beautiful gold coin entered circulation. It was closely based on Saint-Gaudens’s original concept, complete with the forward-striding Liberty and the eagle in flight. But Henry Hering had lowered the relief by a small but crucial extent. The coin still could not be struck, once, on a high-speed press. But it could be struck, thrice, on a slower-speed machine.

Under Hering’s directions, and over Barber’s objections, slightly more than twelve thousand "high relief" double eagles were minted in Philadelphia during the final weeks of 1907. Saint-Gaudens, Henry Hering, and Theodore Roosevelt had proved that a high relief American coin could be made. Having won the battle, Roosevelt may have tired of the war. He had a good deal else on his mind, including upcoming elections, and the voyage of America’s Great White Fleet around the world.

He may also have realized that Americans were likely to require far more than the twelve thousand coins that a month’s efforts had yielded. He accordingly turned the coinage project back over to Chief Engraver Barber, who had very definite ideas on the subject.
Related Events
1901: Theodore Roosevelt becomes president when President McKinley is assassinated.
1902: Congress authorizes building of the Panama Canal.
1904: Theodore Roosevelt is elected president in his own right.
1907: Augustus Saint-Gaudens dies. His son, Homer, with others, completes the coin redesign project.
1908: Ford Motor Company introduces its Model T car.
Legendary Beauties The following objects are in this section.
Ancient Greek Silver Coin (Dekadrachm), about 400 B.C.E.United States, 20 Dollars, 1906 (Pattern)United States 10 Dollars, 1907 (Pattern)
Roosevelt Inaugural Medal, 1905United States, 20 Dollars, 1907United States, 10 Dollars, 1908
United States, 20 Dollars, 1907 (Pattern)United States, 20 Dollars, 1907 
United States, 20 Dollars, 1907 (Experimental)United States. 20 Dollars, 1908 (Matte Proof) 
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Learning Resources Flash Exhibition
Copyright© Privacy Policy Press Credits