He chose America's most renown sculptor for the task of redesigning all United States circulating denominations. Ultimately, Saint-Gaudens was only able to redesign the double eagle and eagle before his death in 1907. Letters exchanged between Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens also reveal the role which the President played in the creation of the new coin design. One of Roosevelt's ideas was to strike the coins in high relief, referring to the extent that the sculpted images of the coin project outward. He further suggested raising the rim in order to protect the surfaces of the coin.
In the ensuing months, models were prepared and further improvements were made to the original design. It was also determined that the date would be featured in Roman numerals, which would be a first on American coinage.
Many of these ideas were strongly rejected by Mint officials, in particular by Chief Engraver Charles E. Throughout this period, Saint-Gaudens was struggling through cancer and his condition was worsening. Before he passed away, a small number of patterns were struck in ultra high relief. This represented the original design as intended by Saint-Gaudens, however the coins proved impractical to produce.
Following Saint-Gaudens's death, an alternate set of dies were put into production featuring the design in high relief, although this design also proved challenging to produce. Barber prepared a final set of lower relief dies, which would be used for mass production.
Obverse Design The obverse features a full figure of Liberty, striding confidently forward. In one hand she holds a lit torch and in the other an olive branch. The Capitol dome can be seen in the far background and rays of the rising sun fill the fields. There are 46 stars surrounding, representing the number of states in the Union at the time. The word LIBERTY appears above.
The date, which appears at lower right, was first expressed in Roman Numerals to present a classical look, but later changed to Arabic Numerals. The designer's monogram "ASG" appears beneath the date.
Reverse Design The reverse design features a bald eagle in flight. The sun appears below with its rays extending upwards into the fields. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and TWENTY DOLLARS appear above. During 1908, the design was modified to add the motto IN GOD WE TRUST between the sun and its rays. The edge of the coin carries the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM with stars placed between each of the words.
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