In 1907 the world population was 1.4 billion, the U.S. population was 104,880,000 and the price of gold was $20.67 an ounce.
The mintage of the 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 was 11,250, allowing one coin for every 124,444 people worldwide, or one for every 9,623 Americans.
In comparison, the world population is 6,757,574,438, the U.S. population is 305,723,506 and the price of gold is $928, or roughly 45 times that of 1907.
In order to have the same proportion of coins to Americans and the worldwide population in 2009 as in 1907, the mintage today would need to be 32,794 and 54,302, respectively.
Obviously, the mintage for 2009 will be much higher than in 1907. The number of collectors today compared to those in 1907 is also much higher. However, even assuming a mintage of 1,000,000 $20 high relief coins, the number of Americans who could own one is one in 305 and of the world’s population, one in 6,757.
America was suffering from an economic crisis in 1907. If the number of coins produced is less, let’s say 300,000 as projected by some, then the number of Americans who could purchase the coin is limited to one in about 1,000 and of the world’s population the number would be about one in 20,000.
The U.S. Mint is charging a significant premium for the coin and in exchange they are throwing in a mahogany presentation box and one of the most beautiful coins ever minted.
They have limited the number that can be purchased to one per household. They are changing the prices weekly and they are, at least for the time being, creating an instant rarity because the coins cannot be widely purchased by coin dealers and boiler room operations. Thus, as long as the coins are properly marketed to the general public and sales are limited, they will be widely distributed with no one individual having a large hoard of the coins that can flood the market.
In 2007 the median U.S. income was $50,233. In 1918, based on $1,000,000,000 in income taxes at 1 percent above $3,000 the median income was estimated at $3,961 for all people filing taxes. It is estimated that income in 2007 was 20 times that in 1907. Thus, it is assumed that the $20 face value of the 1907 High Relief was likely 2.5 percent of the American median income.
At today’s median income, 2.5 percent would make the price of the $20 High Relief roughly $1,250. Thus today’s price is actually comparable to that charged in 1907. Also, with the current economic climate, America is suffering from hard economic times, much like it had suffered in 1907.
In summary, with such a beautiful coin, it is likely that many non-collectors will damage the coins and put them into jewelry and thereby destroy the number of perfect examples of this .9999 fine gold beauty and a bargain to boot.
©2009 William H. Brownstein, Esq.
William H. Brownstein is as hobbyist from Santa Monica, Calif.
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