Bringing Aesthetic Beauty to Coinage

Augustus Saint Gaudens was an American sculptor tasked with redesigning American coinage in the early 20th century. He was specifically chosen for the role by President Theodore Roosevelt, after he had executed an inaugural medal for the presidency. Although the sculptor could not complete the full scope of his work due to his untimely passing, the designs he created were highly praised and began a renaissance in American coinage.

A new design was created for the ten dollar gold denomination. It would feature a portrait of Liberty wearing an Indian headdress. The convention had previously been seen on the one cent denomination. The reverse of the coin featured the image of a bald eagle with many similarities to the one appearing on the inaugural medal. This was one of the two designs created by Saint Gaudens. The series would last until 1933 when federal gold was recalled.

The double eagle or twenty dollar gold coin was the largest circulating denomination of the United States. It was viewed as a particularly important symbol due to its high value and prominence in export. The new design would be known as the Saint Gaudens Double Eagle.

The obverse of the design featured a stunning full figure of Liberty in a flowing gown. She held a lit torch and olive branch and was seen walking confidently forward to bring these fruits to the rest of the world. In the background was a small image of the Capitol building. The reverse featured a young eagle seen in flight against a backdrop of the sun rise.

In 1907, the first coins with this design were struck in ultra high relief. This was already after the passing of the artist who created the design. Due to striking problems, the relief of the design was eventually lowered.

These two design created by Augustus Saint Gaudens would be followed by fresh depictions of Liberty on the other circulating coinage of the United States. Each was prized for its beauty and the return to aesthetic beauty in American coinage.

What’s next for the Eagle?

In October 2009, the United States Mint made an important announcement regarding their offerings for the American Gold Eagle. This coin was the first gold bullion coin offered by the United States Mint. It has been minted in 22 karat gold and has its weight, content, and purity guaranteed by the government. The coins have been issued each year since 1986.

The coins were created primarily as a method for allowing cost effective investment in precious metals. Along the way, the US Mint has also produced collectible versions of the coins for collectors. This began in the first year of issue, when a proof version of the 1986 Gold Eagle was minted. Over the years, the collectible coin offerings increased to include fractional proof coins, collectible uncirculated coins, and a few other special issues.

The announcement from the Mint indicated that the 2009 Proof Gold Eagle and 2009 Uncirculated Gold Eagle would not be produced. Under law, the Mint is required to produced bullion coins in quantities to meet the public demand. Due to an ongoing period of heavy demand, all precious metals blanks were sourced to the production of bullion coins. Since there was apparently no end to this situation, the decision was made to forego production of the collector coins.

In the future the US Mint has indicated that they will work to obtain greater supplies of precious metals blanks in order to produce both bullion and collector Gold Eagles. Will they be successful in fixing their supply issues, or will the one year cancellation threaten to extend into future years?

Changes for the Presidential Dollar

The presidential dollar coin series was first introduced in 2007. Each year, four different designs are issued to honor presidents of the United States in the order they served. The new series was created following the unsuccessful 2000 launch of the Sacagawea Dollar. Although the coins were produced in great numbers and promoted by the US Mint, the public never adopted the coins for every day use.

The Presidential Dollars have the same composition and golden color appearance. Some differences are the rotating obverse designs and the incused edge lettering. Mottoes, dates, and mint marks were all impressed onto the edges of the coins. This edge lettering caused many problems for the US Mint.

The first problem was that the motto “In God We Trust” which had become a mainstay on US coinage was moved to the edge of the coin. Many people did not notice the motto on the edge and instead assumed that the motto was being removed from US coinage. This caused much public outcry and even a call to boycott the new coins.

The second problem was the minting process. The edge lettering was impressed upon the coins in a separate process. This complication caused the appearance of error coins early in the series. Edge lettering could be missing, for coins that did not undergo the second stage of production. Edge lettering could also be doubled or shifted. The US Mint continues to work to eliminate the possibly for these kind of errors, but they still persist.

Starting in 2009, the edge lettering will be modified, it seems in particular response to the public contoversies. The motto “In God We Trust” will be moved to the obverse of the coin. The other motto “E Pluribus Unum” and the date and mint mark will continue to be placed on the edges of the coins.

Learning to Invest in Silver

Silver EagleOne method of investing in silver is with government issued bullion coins. The official silver bullion coin of the United States is the American Silver Eagle. These coins are guaranteed by the US government for silver content and sold through a network of authorized dealers. Each coin contains one ounce of silver. The price for Silver Eagles usually consists of the cost of silver plus a premium to cover the cost of manufacture, distribution, government, and dealer profit margins.

A second method for investing in silver is with silver rounds. These are privately minted one ounce silver usually in the shape of a coin, although sometime minted in the shape of a miniature bar. These silver rounds carry various designs and can sometimes be minted with custom designs. Premiums are usually lower since these are minted privately and are not legal tender. The value of silver rounds is mostly that of the silver content.

Junk silver presents another silver investment option. Before 1965, some United States circulating coins were minted in 90% silver. Bags of $1,000 face value pre-1965 coins with little collectible value can be purchased as junk silver coins. This $1,000 face value bag will have about 715 ounces of pure silver. This is an interesting method of investing in silver since you are getting old United States coins. Although unlikely, it may contain collectible coins. Each coin also remains legal tender for the face value.

Another method of investing in silver is with 100 ounce silver bars or 1,000 ounce silver bars. Since the bars are not minted into individual coins and are a bulk purchase, premiums are traditionally lower than other methods. Silver bars are produced by certain manufacturers such as Engelhard or Johnson Matthey. They can be purchased from bullion dealers or other marketplaces.

A final potential method is with a Silver Electronically Traded Fund. This type of investment is traded like a stock and can be purchased from a broker. Each share in the ETF will represent a certain amount of silver held in a trust less custodial expenses. As shares of the ETF are purchased or redeemed, the trust buys or sells physical silver. In theory, the price of the ETF should track the underlying market price of silver.

How to Start a Coin Collection

Lincoln centCoin Collecting is a challenging, fun and interesting hobby. It has been called the hobby of kings since only the extremely high could afford to collect coins. In modern times, it is actually the most popular hobby in the United States and is accessible to all people.

The heart of collecting coins is having fun. How someone assembles their collection is completely up to them. It can be acquired simply by searching through pocket change at the end of the day. A faster, but still affordable method is to search rolls acquired at a bank for face value. An agreeable method might be to trade with other fellow coin collectors. More advanced methods include purchasing coins from coin dealers or at coin auctions.

There are a number of common types of collections that most people seem to fall under. The first is collecting coins by country. A collector might seek to acquire a coin issued by every country or a particular group of countries. This is a favorite of travelers and also traders since it is common to trade coins with people in other countries.

Another method of collecting is to try to assemble each year and mint mark for a particular series. This method became more popular after coin boards made their appearance early in the 1900’s. Coin boards include a slot for each separate date and mint mark combination. Collectors will attempt to find an example of each and place it into the board. In modern times, the coin board has been replaced by special coin albums.

Collectors may also seek to assemble coin collections by type. This entails find one of each different type of coin, based on denomination and design, for a single country. This can be a very interesting and rewarding experience to have a complete assemblage of the coinage from one country’s entire history.