The U.S. Mint announced the plan for the Ultra High Relief in March 2008 and it immediately raised high interest in the gold investment community. The coin was released for public sale the following year and it quickly sold out at the Mint, as investors acquired every coin they could get their hands on. In the following years, demand for the coin has steadily increased, but the supply stays the same, which has driven a consistent increase in the price, making early buyers very happy in the process. Even with the sharp increase in value, there are very few of these coins available in perfect "Mint State 70" condition on the market. All 2009 Ultra High Relief coins are certified in perfect condition and are sealed in a tamper-proof holder to guarantee and preserve the condition.
The coin pays homage to famed mint engraver Augustus Saint Gaudens, who created the legendary Liberty Head Double Eagle, including the 1907 High Relief Double Eagle. The first 2009 Ultra High Relief coin that was made was sent immediately for safekeeping at the Smithsonian Museum. The second coin was preserved by the U.S. Mint to add to its heritage collection.
The special one-year issue coins are struck in solid 24-karat gold on 27 millimeter blanks that are 4 millimeters thick. The Ultra-High Relief coins contain one full ounce of .9999 fine gold and required two strikings of the coin press at a pressure of 65 metric tons to fully bring up the high-relief detail.
Of the top 100 highest-priced coins ever, 10 involve the 1907 Saint Gaudens High Relief gold coin:
Many collectors believe that the 24 karat 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle gold coin is the most beautiful coin that the U.S. Mint has ever produced.
To create the coin, the original etchings by Saint Gaudens were digitally mapped to make the die for pressing the coins.
The front (obverse) of the coin shows Lady Liberty walking forward, with her flowing robe conjuring images of ancient Rome and Greece. She holds a torch and olive branch in her hands.
The reverse shows a bald eagle flying across the sunrise. The inscription “In God We Trust” was added to the coin, since it was not present in the 1907.
Born 1848 in Dublin, Ireland
Died 1907 in Cornish, New Hampshire
Sculptor of over 200 works in marble and bronze, Augustus Saint-Gaudens had an international reputation and clientele for his portrait reliefs, decorative projects, and public monuments. His long career in New York, Paris, and Rome began as an apprentice to a cameo maker, and ended with a request from the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, to design gold coins for the nation. In between these landmarks -- humble and exalted -- lay Saint-Gaudens' life as a sculptor of portraits, memorials, and architectural decorations. He was inspired by the golden age of Renaissance bronze statuary, committed to the overall relationships of architecture, design, and sculpture advocated by the Aesthetic Movement, and blessed by a personal genius for painstakingly researched yet astoundingly fluid imagery.