$20 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle
Ultra High Relief Double Eagle
In 2009, the United States Mint announced that it would produce an "Ultra High Relief" double eagle ($20) gold coin. The production of this coin was in part a demonstration of the technical ability of the Mint to strike a coin of this quality in 24-karat gold. The coin is based on the famous Augustus Saint-Gaudens "Striding Liberty" design used for double eagles minted in the early 20th century (1907-1933). Saint-Gaudens' vision for the earlier double eagle was not possible to produce in commercial quantities with early 20th century technology, and no circulating ultra high relief coins were minted at that time.
For the modern (2009) Ultra High Relief double eagles, the mint made only minor changes in the original Saint-Gaudens design. The date was changed, and four additional stars were added to represent the four states that have joined the Union since the original design. Each coin contains one ounce of fine (.999)gold. Slightly smaller in diameter than the earlier Saint-Gaudens double eagles, the 2009 Ultra High Relief measures 4 mm. thick with incused edge lettering. The deeply concaved field on the 2009 Ultra High Relief allows for the dramatic device on each side - Striding Liberty on the obverse and the soaring eagle on the reverse - to stand out with incredible detail.
The 2009 Ultra High Relief double eagle dies were produced at the Philadelphia Mint. All of the coins were produced at the West Point Mint. They were packaged in special mahogany boxes, and each order included a booklet explaining the history and purpose behind this special coin. All of the coins minted (115,178) were business (uncirculated) strikes.
Gold in Short Supply - Throughout 2009, the economic turmoil that had started affecting the United States and world financial markets 2-3 years earlier drove an exceptionally high demand for gold, silver, and platinum coins. As a result, the United States Mint found it necessary to devote nearly all of its capacity to producing bullion coins. In the realm of gold coinage, the adjustments affected gold American Eagle and American Buffalo coins. No proof or burnished uncirculated versions of the American Eagle coins ($5, $10, $25, & $50) were minted. The American Buffalo coin program also was cut back. While in 2008 the Mint had introduced $5, $10, & $25 American Buffalo coins for the first time, in both burnished and proof versions, 2009 saw only the one ounce $50 proof American Buffalo coins minted for collectors. The Ultra High Relief double eagles provided an additional option for collectors disappointed by the necessary cutbacks in other popular gold coins.