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After successfully landing the highly esteemed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign the some aspect of U.S. coinage in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt asked the artist to make models for several different denominations of gold coins. In 1905, the artist agreed and thus began a fantastic tale of presidential coin design.
In the late 18th Century, with passage of the Coinage Act of 1792 and establishment of the U.S. Mint, a set of standards was applied to all gold coins struck by the United States government.
The twenty dollar Liberty Head, also known as a "double eagle," was the first gold coin struck by the U.S. Mint. First authorized in early 1849, it was struck that year as a response to the sudden flow of gold, first in North Carolina in the 1830s, then compounded by the California Gold Rush in 1849. Prior to the Liberty Head, all U.S. coinage was made of silver, with the largest denomination being $10, or one eagle, hence the nickname, double eagle.
Until the start of the 20th Century, the U.S. Mint’s coinage was only designed by employees of the Mint. But that changed in 1904 when President Teddy Roosevelt, in acknowledging that “the state of our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness”, commissioned his friend and world-renowned artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design a coin with "some beauty". The exquisite Saint-Gaudens double eagle ($20) is the result of these two giants of history and their belief that the United States deserved a coinage as epic as the future that lay before the country.
In its day, the Morgan Silver Dollar was the ultimate hedge against inflation. Designed by U.S. Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan, the Morgan Dollar was the second standard silver dollar produced as currency.
First commissioned to commemorate the peace following World War I, and minted beginning in 1921 as result of the Pittman Act, the Peace Silver Dollar is 90% silver and 10% copper. With gorgeous original art by Anthony de Francisci, the coin features Lady Liberty’s face and a bald eagle clutching an olive branch.
The Walking Liberty half dollar is the result of the second artistic competition held by the U.S. Mint to replace its existing coinage at the time. Under the discretion of the Commission of Fine Arts, in 1915, three renowned sculptors were chosen from a field of five to submit models for new coins. Adolph A. Weinman was determined the winner, and his designs would replace the penny, nickel, dime, half dollar and dollar.