Saint-Gaudens double eagle realises $2.8m

A 1907 ultra-high relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle saw frenzied bids at a Baltimore coin auction

One of the most beautiful coins in US history - the ultra-high relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle - sold for $2.8m in Baltimore on Friday (June 29).

Augustus Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra High relief

The 1907 coin was the first designed by Irish-born sculptor August Saint-Gaudens, who is best known for creating the famous Robert Gould Shaw memorial in Boston and the Standing Lincoln statue in Chicago. His help in designing the nation's new currency was requested by President Theodore Roosevelt, though Saint-Gaudens' initialeffort would never make it into circulation. "It has proved hitherto impossible to strike them by one blow, which is necessary under the conditions of making coins of the present day," the president explained to Saint-Gaudens in a 1907 letter. "I am grieved that the striking of the die did not bring better results. Evidently it is no trifling matter to make Greek art conform with modern numismatics."The complex artwork and ultra-high relief with which Saint-Gaudens had intended the coin to be made resulted in only 22-24 examples being struck by the mint before it was decided that a lower-relief, more practicalversion of the coin would need to be produced. Eventually, a finaldesign was realisedand Saint-Gaudens'altered$20coin remained in circulation until 1933.The majority of theoriginalultra-high relief examples are now held in museums, with the auction providing a scarce opportunity for collectors to own the magnificent rarity. Paul Fraser Collectibles has a stunning range of investment-grade rarities currently in stock, including this superb example -the 1831 William IV proof crown. Click here to find out why British coins are now emerging as some of the best alternative investments around.

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