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Collectors rush to buy UHR $20

Eager collectors trying to buy the proof 2009 Ultra High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 gold piece slowed the U.S. Mint’s Web site and backed up its 800 number for a time Jan. 22 when the new coin went on sale at noon Eastern Time.

By the end of the day, collectors were e-mailing Numismatic News with reports that they had successfully purchased the coin at the issue price of $1,189 each, with confirmed delivery by Feb. 6.

During the first four days of sales, the Mint said it sold 40,727 of the coins, generating $48.4 million in revenue by noon Jan. 26.

The Mint is limiting orders to one per household during the opening days of the coin’s availability to assure the widest and fairest distribution. It might strike up to 300,000 of the coins if collector orders reach that level.

Though it resembles the Saint-Gaudens gold $20, it has a smaller diameter of 27mm and is more than 50 percent thicker than a regular pre-1933 $10 gold piece, which has the same diameter. It contains one troy ounce of .9999 fine gold.

The $20 coin of that size was never produced for circulation. It was the brainchild of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who in 1907 was attempting to fulfill a dream of President Theodore Roosevelt to create a new American coinage worthy of the ancient Greeks.

High relief and increased thickness were characteristics that proved unsuitable both for mass production and use in commerce.

The gold coin’s price changes each week to take into account the fluctuating price of gold. The second week’s price was $1,239, effective Jan. 29.

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