The golden era of American coinage grew out of a president’s trip to a museum. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt attended an exhibition of ancient Greek coins at the Smithsonian and was greatly impressed by their artistic beauty and symbolic power. In comparison, he felt American coins were altogether bland and unworthy of our nation. He envisioned an entire new generation of coins that would represent the greatness of an America awakening to its emerging power and importance in the world, and he knew just the man who could pull it off: the great sculptor of his inauguration medal, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
In 1905, Saint-Gaudens was not only the most prominent sculptor in the country, he was one of the most important American artists of any kind. Directly embodying the spirit of the American Renaissance, Saint-Gaudens was a colossal figure in the fine arts world whose influence reached across the continent. Upon hearing of Roosevelt’s desire for a reworking of the nation’s coinage, Saint-Gaudens readily agreed to take up the challenge and began work on the Double Eagle $20 and Eagle $10 gold pieces immediately.
Saint-Gaudens passed away before he could complete designs for the entire run of American coins, but he did leave us with two masterpieces. The Eagle’s obverse is taken directly from his monument to General William T. Sherman in New York’s Central Park. It depicts Lady Liberty in profile facing left and wearing the Native American feathered war bonnet that President Roosevelt insisted upon. The reverse of the coin captures a bold American eagle standing proudly on a bundle of arrows beneath the inscriptions “United States of America”.
Saint-Gaudens Indian Head Eagles were minted from 1907 through 1933 in Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (“S” mintmark), and Denver (“D”), are composed of .90% gold yielding .48375 troy ounces of pure gold per coin, and measure 27mm in diameter.
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|Metal Content||0.4838 troy oz|
|Metals Purity||.900 Fine Gold|
|Certificate of Authenticity||NGC|