When President Theodore Roosevelt took office, one of his goals was to have our nation’s coinage reflect the strength and vitality of America. Roosevelt referred to this undertaking as his “pet crime”. He was so appalled by our coinage he termed them “atrociously hideous”. Roosevelt, aware that Mint engravers were not up to the creative challenge, persuaded his friend and renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to fashion new designs, starting with the eagle and double eagle. Saint-Gaudens’ double eagle creation is considered the zenith of American coin design. His stunning double eagle had the tremendous relief Roosevelt so admired on ancient Greek and Roman coinage. Unfortunately, the design proved impractical and the relief had to be lowered. Even though the modified version is a mere shadow of the original, it is still considered to be the prettiest coin America ever produced.
Double eagles are widely sought by numismatic collectors, numismatic investors and bullion hoarders. Part of the attraction is the sheer size of the piece. There is a true tactile satisfaction in holding such a large, heavy chunk of gold. The coin contains almost a full ounce of pure gold, and low-grade pieces are very attractive to bullion buyers as substitutes for Krugerrands, eagles and other bullion pieces. The first year available to collectors is 1850, as there is only one known 1849 double eagle, and it is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. The last year available is 1932, as the 1933 issue was never officially released to the public. The Treasury took the stance that since the coin was not officially released, all examples in private hands were illegal to own, and it confiscated the few pieces that appeared at auction.
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