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2009 Saint-Gaudens redesign approved

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Approval has been given the U.S. Mint to proceed with 2009-dated ultra-high relief gold coins based on the design of Augustus Saint-Gaudens? 1907 Ultra High Relief double eagles.

In a May 2 announcement, the Mint reported that Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson has authorized creation of one-ounce, ultra-high relief, 24-karat gold versions dated 2009.

Mintage of the new coin is to be unlimited for one year. All will be dated 2009. They are scheduled to go on sale in early 2009, although sales of the 2009-dated coins may continue into 2010 if inventory exists, the announcement stated.

A business strike finish and a diameter of 27mm are among production specifications approved by Paulson.

Also approved is a thickness more than 50 percent greater than other 24-karat gold coins currently produced by the Mint. The reason for this is to provide depth for the ultra-high relief, and in recognition of the historical significance.

The 1907 Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief $20s had a 27mm diameter and a thickness about double that of the gold $10s of the period.

The obverse of the new coin will feature 50 stars, instead of the 46 stars found on the 1907 pieces (star count increased to 48 for the coins dated 1912-1933).

The Mint announcement said the date will appear in Roman numerals ?MMIX? in a style similar to the original Saint-Gaudens design.

The reverse also will be based on the 1907 Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief $20s. Like the 1907 Ultra High Relief pieces, there will be 14 sun rays. Only 13 sun rays appeared on the 1907 high relief versions, and more rays appeared on the production strikes. Added to the reverse will be the inscription ?In God We Trust.? Current law requires the inscription on all coins, the Mint stated. The motto did not appear on the 1907 strikes though it was added during 1908.

The edge of the coin will feature raised lettering like the 1907 pieces, the inscription ?E Pluribus Unum? with stars serving as delimiters between the letters.

The Citizens Coin Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts contributed recommendations for the design.

The new coin is authorized under 31 U.S.C. § 5112(i)(4)(C), which allows the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe program procedures and specifications for minting and issuing new gold coins. This provision also gives the secretary the discretion to select each such coin?s designs, varieties, quantities, denomination and inscriptions.