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Coin of the Issue: 1907 High-Relief Wire Edge Saint-Gaudens

By Seth Chandler - August 18, 2021

This 1907 High-Relief Wire Edge Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle graded PCGS MS67+ is one of the finest around.
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“Overrated.” “Common.” “There are so many at any large coin show.”

These are words that I often hear when I proclaim to folks that the 1907 Saint-Gaudens High-Relief Wire Edge Double Eagle is America’s greatest coin. I think to myself, “they don’t understand!” To me, the beauty of the design and the story behind the creation of the coin is what makes it so special.

The story of the “High Relief,” as it is known to numismatists, starts with President Theodore Roosevelt pounding his fist on his desk in the White House not once, but twice. Starting in early 1905, the president demanded that changes be made to our $10 and $20 gold coinage and hired Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a design that brought out a higher relief similar to the kind seen on ancient Greek coinage. Little did anyone realize that this effort would produce five failures, further escalating the president’s intensity and causing him to pound his desk!

Enter newly appointed U.S. Mint Director Frank Leach, who came to the rescue. As superintendent of the San Francisco Mint, Leach saved the mint building and hundreds of millions of dollars in coin and currency reserves from the great fire of 1906. President Roosevelt described him as a “man who got results.” Leach put his talents to use as a skilled manager of minting techniques and within a few days presented the president with the first run of the new 1907 High-Relief Wire Edge Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. A total of 12,153 coins were delivered to the treasurer of the United States, with intentions of spreading the coins all over the country for the public to see them. The coins were so popular that premiums of $15 were obtained by some sellers.

Soon thereafter, dies were created to produce a much lower relief to meet the requirements of bankers and various businesspeople that the coins should be able to stack easily. With the newer lower relief, the mint could use the regular coining press instead of the medal press used to strike High Reliefs – making the coins economical to produce on a large scale.

Every time I hold a High Relief in my hands, I just imagine what it was like to have a few of these in my pocket back in 1907. The design and shape were like no other coin circulating at the time. There are a million ways to collect coins, but I feel that every collector should aspire to own a High Relief – or at least have the opportunity to hold one in their hands.

BIO: Seth Chandler is the head numismatist at America’s Coin Shop, Witter Coin in San Francisco. He can be reached at [email protected].

Article provided by PCGS at
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