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1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1924 Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Image: CoinWeek.
1924 Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Image: CoinWeek.

Acclaimed as one of the most beautiful and artistic numismatic designs ever realized in the United States, the Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagle is one of the most famous American coin types. Its existence came only at the insistence of President Theodore Roosevelt, who sought for years to beautify America’s humdrum coin designs.

The coin’s design was inspired by classic Greek coins and depicted in the beaux-arts style of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. For Saint-Gaudens, the coin project was one of his final commissions as he was stricken with cancer and getting weaker as he was working on the project.

The artist set out to redesign every denomination of America’s circulating coinage but was only able to provide two designs: this $20 gold coin design and the beautiful $10 Indian Head design. Assisting Saint-Gaudens in making necessary modifications was sculptor Henry Hering.

The Saint-Gaudens double eagle design was highly technical and unsuitable for coinage. The United States Mint’s first strikings of this $20 design came in the form of two dozen Proofs struck in March of 1907, each coin requiring nine impressions to realize the full detail of Saint-Gaudens’ high-relief design.

This led the Mint’s engraving department, led by Chief Engraver Charles Barber, to flatten the relief and make other modifications so that the coin’s presses could strike the new design efficiently. Barber is often slandered in numismatic circles as being ruined of other artist’s work, but a better understanding of his role in the manufacture of this coin and other coins from outside artists must take into account the technical knowledge that Barber brought to his revisions and that these revisions were typically necessary.

How Much Is the 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Worth?

The 1924 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is one of a handful of commonly encountered issues of the late circulating $20 gold coin series. In total, the Mint struck 4,323,500 examples. The Federal Government recalled most of these coins through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order, but hundreds of thousands of examples escaped confiscation.

Regarding this date, coin dealers and telemarketers refer to the issue as “generic gold,” however, the coin may not be referred to as such by an individual trying to sell you the coin.

The term “generic” may be offputting to some, but in the rare coin industry, “generic” is routinely applied to a coin with only a basic numismatic value over the coin’s intrinsic worth. An About Uncirculated or Brilliant Uncirculated example would routinely trade at the prevailing spot price in the raw. In certified grades of MS63 and MS64, these generic Saint-Gaudens issues carry a premium of approximately 15% over the spot price.

In typically found grades, the market value for the 1924 Saint-Gaudens double eagles is about on par with what we’ve already seen in our analysis of the 1923 Saint-Gaudens double eagle. A big difference, however, is that the quality of coins struck in 1924 tends to be much higher.

Whereas only a handful of examples of the 1923 issue have been certified by either PCGS or NGC in MS66, the 1924 issue is plentiful in MS66, readily available in MS67, and only becomes rare in higher grades. To date, only one example has been certified MS68 by PCGS. That coin last sold at a public auction in January 2006, bringing $63,250. It has since upgraded to MS68+ at that service. NGC has certified three examples in MS68. One of these three coins brought $48,875 when Heritage offered it for sale in November 2005. More recently, the Bob R. Simpson MS67+ CAC, an attractive example with different shades of gold toning, brought $90,000 at an August 2022 Heritage sale. A more recent GreatCollections offering of an unpedigreed MS67+ CAC brought nearly $80,000. Our read on the current rare coin market would put an estimated value of $160,000 for an MS68 and $200,000 for an example with a CAC sticker.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS68+ (1, 4/2024). NGC MS68 (3, 4/2022), and CAC MS67 (30:1 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

With 30 CAC-approved coins and over 200 coins certified at the MS67 level, the 1924 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is easily acquired in grades MS65 through MS67. Of course, in MS67, the coin’s price increases just beyond the $10,000 threshold.

  • PCGS MS68+ #30433196: As PCGS MS68.Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2006, Lot 3610 – $63,250. Upgraded to MS68+. Plated at PCGS CoinFacts. Nearly flawless. Tiny mark in ray above O of GOD.
  • NGC MS68 #163976-018: “The Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage,” Heritage Auctions, November 3, 2005, Lot 6661 – $48,875. Tick in rays above TR of TRUST—carbon spot on eagle’s wing below S of DOLLARS.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #48043114: GreatCollections, January 21, 2024, Lot 1516969 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #16371238: GreatCollections, October 30, 2022, Lot 1249578 – $79,875.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #45420970: “The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part IX,” Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3413 – $90,000. Simpson novelty insert. Scattered orange toning. Tiny carbon fleck between rays 9 and 10. Scattered tiny dark marks at T in LIBERTY.
  • PCGS MS67+ #44313558: Heritage Auctions, May 5, 2022, Lot 4091 – $45,600. Scattered orange toning.
  • NGC MS67+ #3701894-004: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, February 25, 2021, Lot 325 – $17,037.50. Tiny spot above Liberty’s extended left arm. Tiny tick between rays 5 and 6.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #07430143: “The Stephen Stokely Collection, Part Five,” Heritage Auctions, August 2008, Lot 2111; Heritage Auctions, September 18, 2020, Lot 3823 – $28,800; Heritage Auctions, May 5, 2022, Lot 4092 – $38,400.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #44245436: Heritage Auctions, December 16, 2021, Lot 3419 – $34,800.
  • NGC MS67 CAC #450896-010: Heritage Auctions, February 2010, Lot 1838; Heritage Auctions, November 11, 2021, Lot 3729 – $37,200.
  • NGC MS67 CAC #3371561-001: Heritage Auctions, October 7, 2021, Lot 3619 – $32,400.
  • NGC MS67 CAC #3044392-009: Heritage Auctions, August 18, 2021, Lot 3501 – $27,600.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #10002259: Stack’s Bowers, March 25, 2021, Lot 4185 – $31,200.
  • NGC MS67 CAC #1575386-004: “The Larry H. Miller Collection, Part Two,” Stack’s Bowers, December 17, 2020, Lot 1143 – $26,400.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #37543097: “The Rollo Fox Collection of $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold,” Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2020, Lot 4036 – $28,800.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #6578267: “The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2019, Lot 3963 – $34,800.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #4202613: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, December 14, 2017, Lot 373 – $22,325. Old Green Holder.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #6602996: “The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation,” Stack’s Bowers, November 9, 2017, Lot 10235 – $26,400.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #11548449: “The Cherny Collection,” Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2016, Lot 5632 – $20,562.50. Cherny Coll on insert.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #4352739: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2010, Lot 2318 – $17,250; Stack’s Bowers, May 2015, Lot 100 – $21,150. Green holder.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #2407510: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, February 19, 2015, Lot 322 – $17,625. Old Green Holder.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #16342397: Ed Hipps, 1978; “The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2012, Lot 4635 – $17,250; Legend Rare Coin Auctions, July 17, 2014, Lot 206 – $18,800. Duckor on insert.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #05982887: Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2014, Lot 7390 – $19,387.50.

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Design

Obverse:

The obverse features a full-length image of Liberty, facing forward with an olive branch in her extended left hand and a raised torch in her extended right. Draped in a long, flowing classical gown (the ancient chiton), her hair is swept to the left. Some describe her as striding forward, but she appears instead to be in a pose, the foot of her left leg resting on a large rock (in front of which are oak leaves). To Liberty’s right, at the bottom of the coin, the sun is visible behind a depiction of the U.S. Capitol building. Rays from the sun extend upward from behind the Capitol and Liberty to about the level of Liberty’s waist. At the top of the coin is the word LIBERTY, the torch separating I and B. Forty-eight tiny six-pointed stars are arrayed just inside the flat rim, forming a circle broken only at the bottom.

The date in Arabic numerals is near the bottom on the right; a monogram of the designer’s initials ASG is below the date.

Reverse:

The crest of the sun appears again on the reverse, at the bottom with rays extending upward nearly to the top of the coin behind a majestic left-facing eagle, wings uplifted in flight. In an arc above the sun is IN GOD WE TRUST, the words separated by centered triangular dots. At the top is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in a concentric arc next to the flat rim, with TWENTY DOLLARS just below in another arc. The words of both phrases are separated by centered triangular dots, and the text is also in front of the sun’s rays.

Edge:

The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, in raised letters that alternate with 13 raised stars, is on the edge of the coin.

Designer

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) was a European-educated American sculptor, notable for numerous public monuments and other works in the Beaux Arts style. Working with President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, he is responsible for some of the most beautiful numismatic designs in American history, such as the gold $10 eagle and the gold $20 double eagle.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1924
Denomination: 20 Dollars (USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 4,323,500
Alloy: .900 Gold
Weight: 33.44 g
Diameter: 34.00 mm
Edge: Lettered: E * PLURIBUS * UNUM * * * * * * * * * * *
OBV Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
REV Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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