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Image of United States, 20 Dollars, 1907
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Materials: Gold
Measurement: Dia. 34.5 mm; Wt. 33.450 g, 2.3mm thick
Source: Transfer from U.S. Mint
Note: Breen 7363

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 for what many consider the most beautiful American coin ever conceived, the Ultra High Relief $20 piece. Unfortunately, the coin required multiple strikes to produce, even when its ultra high relief design was reduced to a lower relief.

Deciding how to modify the coin so it could be produced in large quantities with a single strike in a high speed press was left to the Mint's Chief Engraver, Charles E. Barber. In effect, he told President Roosevelt to make a choice. He could have artistry in small quantities or mediocrity in large amounts.

If he chose the first, Americans would have beautiful money that few would ever see. If he opted for the second, Americans would have as much money as they needed, even though it might be merely pretty rather than beautiful. Roosevelt likely felt he had little choice: the purpose of coinage is commercial first, anything else second. And so one can imagine him being upset, but accepting low relief to facilitate an increase in production.

The first of the redesigned coins was struck in December 1907. It was easily distinguished from earlier versions: not only was there a radical difference in the coins' relief, but even the date had been altered. Saint-Gaudens's ultra high relief and Hering's high relief coins bore the date in Roman numerals (MCMVII). Barber's version featured Arabic numerals (1907). Thus amended, the new double eagles would continue to be struck through the beginning of 1933.
Related Events
1901: Theodore Roosevelt becomes president when President McKinley is assassinated.
1902: Congress authorizes building of the Panama Canal.
1904: Theodore Roosevelt 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) 
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