Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.
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Mountains, monuments & money: Victory becomes Liberty
Created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the massive gilded bronze statue of Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in Grand Army Plaza, at the southeast corner of New York’s Central Park, features a statue of Victory, cast in 1902, that is often cited as the inspiration for Liberty on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, designer of what is widely regarded as the most beautiful United States coin ever minted — the $20 double eagle of 1907 to 1933 — also created numerous monuments, including a massive gilded bronze statue of Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
The monument in Grand Army Plaza at the southeast corner of New York’s Central Park, features a mounted Sherman led by Victory. The statue of Victory, cast in 1902, is often cited as the inspiration for Liberty on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle.
Besides the double eagle, Saint-Gaudens also designed the stunning Indian $10 gold piece of 1907 to 1933. Saint-Gaudens, unfortunately, died before the coins were released into circulation. Both designs remained in production until the end of circulating gold coins in 1933. The 1933 double eagle has a checkered past. Only one is legal to own. It sold for $7,590,020 in 2002.
The obverse of Saint-Gaudens’ $20 gold piece was reprised in 1986 for the Mint’s American Eagle gold bullion pieces, which are still in production. In 2009, the Mint made an ultra-high-relief, one-ounce version of the coin for sale to collectors. That tour de force harkened back to the coin’s inception when the coin’s original high-relief concept proved too difficult to produce for circulation.
NEXT: From Ticonderoga to the Panama Canal