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Saint-Gaudens design to be reborn

sg170.jpgThe dream of President Theodore Roosevelt and artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens to restore the artistry of ancient Greece to American coinage may be realized in 2009 when the Mint plans to strike ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens $20 gold pieces for collectors.

This historic news was delivered March 13 to a meeting of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee by Mint Director Ed Moy.

The original idea was scratched in 1907 when the Mint had difficulty making the gold coins strike up properly. The version with lowered, but high relief still was vetoed by America?s bankers because it did not stack properly.

Now without the constraints of commerce, the Mint will attempt a 27mm coin with a thick planchet. Regular gold $20s are 34mm, but in the Mint?s original 1907 test versions were struck on two $10 gold planchets melded together, Moy said. The Mint at the had no authority to strike such pieces so all but two or three were melted.

The French have a term for a double thickness planchet. It is called piefort and collectors in Europe and elsewhere find coins struck on these planchets appealing.

Director Moy hopes American collectors will be similarly well disposed to the revival of the ultra-high-relief design.

The new pieces will be 24 karat, or .999 fine, eliminating some of the hardness of a gold coin, which in 1907 was struck with a .900 fine gold alloyed with copper. They will also contain an even troy ounce of gold, making them conform to the demands of 21st century collectors and bullion coin buyers.

The 2009 date will be in Roman numerals.

Unlike the original Saint-Gaudens design, the new one will carry ?In God We Trust? on the reverse in the place the motto was added in 1908.

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