Following the experiments with ultra high relief, a second set of dies featuring Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s design were prepared with the relief reduced. These dies would be used to strike the 1907 High Relief Saint Gaudens Double Eagles (Buy on eBay), which would have a total mintage of 12,367 pieces. While not extremely rare, these coins are highly sought and prized by collectors for their beautiful presentation of the sculptor’s design.
The coins were produced at the direct insistence of President Theodore Roosevelt. Augustus Saint-Gaudens had died on August 3, 1907, leading Roosevelt to set a deadline of September 1st for the Mint to place the new double eagle into circulation. The Chief Engraver of the Mint continued to stall, citing the relief of the coin and the multiple strikes needed to bring up the design. Finally, on November 18th, Roosevelt ordered the second set of dies to be used to begin production immediately “even if it takes you all day to strike one piece!”
It would take three to five strikes to bring out the full design in high relief. The Mint Director put every medal press at the Philadelphia Mint into operation and used additional workers to run the presses day and night. The effort was worth it as the President was pleased with the result, calling it “the best coin that has been struck for two thousand years.”
The High Relief Double Eagles can be divided into flat rim and wire rim varieties as the result of different collars used during the minting process. The flat rim is noted as being slightly scarcer, although both varieties carry similar values. There is controversy over the classification of some examples as proof strikings. The grading firm NGC asserts that coins with certain diagnostics are proofs, while PCGS has not certified any coins as proof.
Today, the 1907 High Relief Double Eagles remain relatively available since such a large number were saved at the time of release. It is estimated that up to 8,000 pieces survive, with the majority in mint state grades. The coins command a premium across all grade levels, which expands in higher grades. One of the finest known examples graded NGC PR-69 most recently sold for $660,000 in 2020.