Most numismatists believe that the 1907 High Relief $20 gold piece is the most beautiful U.S. coin. This piece was the “pet baby” of President Theodore Roosevelt who started the “Renaissance of American Coinage” which extended from 1907 to 1921. In 1905 President Roosevelt met with Augustus St. Gaudens who was viewed as the greatest American artist of his era. Roosevelt was very dissatisfied with the designs of the coins which were then in circulation and wanted to introduce a series of U.S. coinage designs that would be on a par with America’s emerging greatness. The president asked St. Gaudens to redesign every U.S. coin from the cent to the double eagle. St. Gaudens had more assignments than he could complete, and he was also becoming progressively ill with terminal cancer. Therefore he drew up the designs and assigned an artist, Henry Herring, who worked in the St. Gaudens studio, to execute the models. St. Gaudens and Roosevelt were aware that they would face bureaucratic problems at the U.S. mint. Chief mint engraver, Charles Barber, had held his office for over 27 years. Barber took a dim view of an interfering president and an outside artist taking his job. This resulted in protracted feuds between mint personnel and the St. Gaudens studio. In my view both sides had their points. Improving the generally dull appearance of the then current U.S. coinage was long overdue, but the coins also had to be economical to produce and acceptable in the world commerce. After considerable wrangling President Roosevelt got his way … for about month. During November and for a brief period in January 1908 the U.S. mint went on a 24/7 schedule produced a total of 12,367 double eagles in high relief. The coins were stuck on a medal press, and it took from three blows from the dies to bring up the design. The coins were made in batches of 1,000 because they had to be made with the same set of dies to avoid doubling of the devices. Between each strike, the planchets had to be annealed to soften them for the next strike. The resulting coins were very beautiful but also very impractical. After this brief run, Roosevelt agreed that the High Relief coins were not practical, and the lower relief coins took their place. The coin pictured above is a superb example of the 1907 High Relief $20 coin. It is virtually mark free surfaces, and the soft satiny luster that typical of this piece. I have called these coins “The most expensive “common” coin in the U.S. series. More than half of the original mintage survives, but most any example of the coin is priced well within 5 figures because of demand. Here is an example of the "low relief" $20 gold piece which became the standard issued until the series ended in 1933. The only modification was the addition of "In God We Trust" on the reverse, above the sun, in mid 1908.