The recreation of the 1907 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle $20 gold piece was more than 100 years in the making and a new exhibit at the United States Mint documents the journey.
United States Mint Director Ed Moy opened an exhibit Feb. 3 that details the development of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin, a modern version of the original 1907 Double Eagle $20 gold piece.
The exhibit, previewed at the World’s Fair of Money last year in Baltimore, is on display at the United States Mint at Philadelphia.
“We are proud to give visitors to the United States Mint at Philadelphia a glimpse into our journey to fulfill the dream of Saint-Gaudens and President Theodore Roosevelt,” said Moy. “The 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin represents a new era in coin design.”
Moy noted that about 29,000 coins had already been minted and that 43,000 had been ordered in the first eight days.
During the opening ceremony, Moy called John Mercanti to the podium to annouce his new position as chief engraver of the U.S. Mint. His previous title was supervisory design and master tooling development specialist. He is the 12th chief engraver in the history of the Mint.
Since joining the Mint team of sculptor-engravers in 1974, Mercanti has been involved in the creation of many memorable coins and medals. His achievements include the 1984 Olympic gold $10-coin, 1986 Statue of Liberty dollar coin, 1989 Congress Bicentennial gold $5 coin, obverse of the 1990 Eisenhower Centennial silver dollar, obverse of the 1991 Mount Rushmore $5 coin, and obverse of the 1991 Korean War Memorial silver dollar. In 2004, he sculpted-engraved the reverse of the Dr. Dorothy Height Congressional Gold Medal, produced in just nine days.
Visitors to the ultra high relief exhibit will get a look – from start to finish – inside the United States Mint’s development process for re-creating the 1907 Double Eagle. Featured items on display include a pencil sketch of an early design by Saint-Gaudens and the final digital model used to create the 2009 coin. Visitors also will see the coin’s production phases that include test blanks, feasibility strikes and progression strikes. A set of feasibility dies, a set of the final design dies and a three-part collar segment that forms the raised edge lettering when the coin is struck are also on display. The exhibit culminates in the final product – the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin – that was put on sale Jan.22.
This ultra high relief coin was more than 100 years in the making. In 1907, although the then-Bureau of the Mint had recently installed new Janvier reducing lathes at the direct petition of Saint-Gaudens himself, the production process of that era was still too arduous to mass produce an ultra high relief coin.
It is the United States Mint’s 21st century technology that allowed Saint-Gaudens’ original sculpture to be digitally captured, updated and produced in quantity. The digital design process permitted production staff to create a true basin, remodel inscriptions and update the design with 50 stars, the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST and the year MMIX (2009).
For more information on the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin and to view an online version of the exhibit, visit: http://www.usmint.gov/mint%5Fprograms/ultrahigh/