An ultra-high relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle from 1907 is due to sell later today (June 29) in Baltimore.
The magnificent rarity has already attracted huge attention from collectors, with bids currently standing at $1.8m. Only a few hours remain for discerning numismatists to outbid the current leader and own one of America's most beautiful coins.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt requested the help of Irish-born sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in designing the country's latest currency. Saint-Gaudens had already achieved recognition for his work on the Standing Lincoln statue in Chicago and the famous Robert Gould Shaw memorial on Boston Common, with the $20 coin lined up as his next great masterpiece.
However, Saint-Gaudens artistic style and temprament stood in the way of creating a practical coin. This ultra-high relief example - the first design created by Saint-Gaudens - was deemed unfit for circulation by the United States Mint, as it took over eleven strikes for the intricate detail to be properly brought out, not to mention the fact that the coin did not stack well for banking purposes.
Low-relief, corrected versions of the coin were eventually issued but the original design from the sculptor is undoubtedly the most captivating. It is now a highly sought after collector's item, as demonstrated by the price it has commanded so far in the sale.
Unfortunately, the slow pace with which the coin was created (it took over two years for the final design to be agreed on) meant that Saint-Gaudens would never see his currency in circulation. He died shortly before the coin was released by the mint in 1907.
We will be bringing you the results of this sale in the coming days, so be sure to check back with us regularly to find out how the Saint-Gaudens coin fared. In the meantime, take a look at some of stunning investment-grade rarities we have on offer.