In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to lead an effort to redesign American coinage. Saint-Gaudens developed a design for what many consider the most beautiful American coin ever conceived. Unfortunately, the coin required multiple strikes to produce, even when its ultra-high relief design was reduced to a lower relief.
Deciding how to modify the coin so it could be produced in large quantities with a single strike in a high speed press was left to the Mint's Chief Engraver, Charles E. Barber. In effect, he told President Roosevelt to make a choice. He could have artistry in small quantities or mediocrity in large amounts.
If he chose the first, Americans would have beautiful money that few would ever see. If he opted for the second, Americans would have as much money as they needed, even though it might be merely pretty rather than beautiful. Roosevelt likely felt he had little choice: the purpose of coinage is commercial first, anything else second. And so one can imagine him being upset, but accepting low relief to facilitate an increase in production.
The first of the redesigned coins was struck in December 1907. It was easily distinguished from earlier versions: not only was there a radical difference in the coins' relief, but even the date had been altered. Saint-Gaudens's ultra high relief and Hering's high relief coins bore the date in Roman numerals (MCMVII). Barber's version featured Arabic numerals (1907). Thus amended, the new double eagles would continue to be struck through the beginning of 1933.
In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to lead an effort to redesign American coinage. Saint-Gaudens developed a design that many consider the most beautiful American coin ever conceived. The Mint's Chief Engraver, Charles E. Barber, opposed the project, but ultimately developed a low-relief version of the Saint-Gaudens design that became the standard American $20 coin.
Barber was not averse to experimentation. He simply believed it had to be kept within fairly close bounds, and under the Mint's control. It would also help if there was profit involved. Instead of experimenting with relief, Barber tried modifying the finish of the Saint-Gaudens coin design. In one test, a "Roman Gold" finish was devised, imparting a glowing, golden surface to coins that would otherwise have a slight reddish sheen about them, from the copper added to the mixture to make the coins wear better.
No records of how this special finish was applied have survived; but a good guess would be that a light layer of pure gold dust was applied to both surfaces of the coin blank before striking. The force of the press would bond the dust to the blank as the blank was coined. In another test that yielded the coin shown here, Barber developed a "Matte" finish. In this case, the coin was likely struck first (more than once, in order to fully bring up what relief there was), and then "pickled," or etched in dilute acid.
The result was a coin of a vaguely medallic appearance, without all the work entailed in multiple striking. In addition to testing a concept, this experiment was directed at producing a few specialized coins that could be sold to collectors at inflated prices.
United States, 20 Dollars, 1907 (Ultra High Relief Pattern)
U.S. Mint. Philadelphia
gold (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: .4 cm x 3.4 cm; 5/32 in x 1 11/32 in
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign American coinage. As Saint-Gaudens began work on the project, there was never any possibility that he would restrict himself to well-traveled artistic paths. Playing it safe was against his nature and that of the president for whom he toiled.
As a result of Saint-Gaudens's vision and Roosevelt's persistence, Americans got their most beautiful double eagle, one of the most artistic pieces of money ever struck. Instead of a head or a static, seated goddess, Saint-Gaudens's Lady Liberty strides towards us, the dawn at her back. She represents the morning of the Republic, full of possibilities and hope.
She bears a torch in her right hand, an olive branch in her left: offerings of freedom and peace. The law said that Saint-Gaudens had to use an eagle for his reverse design, and so he did. But what an eagle! Nothing like it had ever been seen before. The naturalistic bird, in such high relief that it threatens to soar out of the circular space that seeks to enclose it, is all movement and grace.
Saint-Gaudens and his patron surely knew that this coin was impossible to make in mass quantities. The high relief came at a high price: it took nine blows from the hydraulic coining press to strike each one. Charles E. Barber, the Mint's chief engraver, strenuously objected out of jealousy, but he had a point.
This is no way to make money for mass circulation. But to Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens, the chief engraver and other critics lacked vision. This ultra-high relief double eagle was intended to show what artistry and technology could do when afforded the chance. Fewer than two dozen of the ultra-high relief coins were minted, in February and March of 1907.
On August 10, 1846, the United States Senate passed a bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution, which coincidentally occurred at the time this mezzotint was being offered for sale at ten dollars a copy. Nearly four years in the making, the picture was a composite of daguerreotypes taken during the past three sessions of Congress especially for this mezzotint. Individuals included prominent senators Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun, and former president John Quincy Adams, who was representing his Massachusetts district in the House of Representatives. Adams was an enthusiastic proponent for establishing the Smithsonian Institution, while Calhoun voted against the bill.
The year 1846 also marked the start of America's war with Mexico. Territory acquired from the vanquished Mexicans would ultimately fuel acrimonious debate about the most polarizing issue of that era-the extension of slavery into new territories.
Nature & Environment\Animal\Bird\Eagle
Daniel Webster: Law and Law Enforcement\Lawyer
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\US Congressman\Massachusetts
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\Cabinet Member\Secretary of State
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\US Senator\Massachusetts
Daniel Webster: Politics and Government\US Congressman\New Hampshire
Daniel Webster: Education\Orator
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Land Grant College Presidents with President Truman [cellulose acetate photonegative]
Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.)
Truman, Harry S. 1884-1972
White House (Washington, D.C.)
Silver gelatin on cellulose acetate film sheet, 4" x 5"
African Americans Washington (D.C.)
No ink on negative, no Scurlock number. Group of men (Land Grant College presidents) standing in front of a portion of the White House. Truman does not appear in this print. "9 ANSCO SAFETY FILM" edge imprint.
Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Sentimental genre prints documented the social image of Victorian virtue through domestic scenes of courtship, family, home life, and images of the “genteel female.” Children are depicted studying nature or caring for their obedient pets as they learn their place in the greater world. Romantic scenes picture devoted husbands with their contented, dutiful wives. In these prints, young women educated in reading, music, needlework, the arts, the language of flowers, basic math and science are subjugated to their family’s needs.
These prints became popular as lithography was introduced to 19th Century Americans. As a new art form, it was affordable for the masses and provided a means to share visual information by crossing the barriers of race, class and language. Sentimental prints encouraged the artistic endeavors of schoolgirls and promoted the ambitions of amateur artists, while serving as both moral instruction and home or business decoration. They are a pictorial record of our romanticized past.
This hand colored print is of a baby boy seated in an ornate black and gold carriage with four large wheels, leather convertable hood and large tassel hanging from the side. The baby's gown has embroidery, and a velvet coat is draped on carriage. The carriage is depicted in a landscape setting.
Kellogg & Bulkeley was the lithography firm formed from the partnership between Elijah Chapman Kellogg, Edmund Burke Kellogg, and William Henry Bulkeley. The firm was formed in 1867, and shortly after both Elijah Chapman Kellogg and his brother Edmund Burke Chapman retired. After their retirement the only Kellogg remaining in the business was Edmund’s son Charles Kellogg. By1871 the partnership between the Kellogg family and Bulkeley had been reorganized as an incorporated stock company. The company came to an end when is merged with Case, Lockwood, & Brainard to become Connecticut Printers in 1947. Connecticut Printers remained open until 1990 when the Kellogg lithography firm finally ended after 160 years.
Currently not on view
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
Clothing & Accessories
U.S. National Government, executive branch
Maker referenced; cited; illustrated:
Peters, Harry T.. America on Stone
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Produced by Peter Getz at a temporary mint in Philadelphia. Obverse: Bust of George Washington in uniform, date below. Reverse: Eagle, stars above. Peter Getz created the dies for these and several other pieces, basing his designs on two British copper proposals of 1791. The United States lacked a mint, and so the Getz pieces were struck in the coach house of John Harper, a metallurgical expert then resident in Philadelphia. Only a few specimens including this piece survive in silver. There are handful more in copper. The scheme for adopting this design came to naught when President Washington declined the honor of appearance on American coinage. Apparently, Washington preferred a depiction of Liberty on the national coinage rather than a portrait of himself.
William Howard Taft once said, “I don’t remember that I ever was President.” He believed that having been named chief justice of the United States was a greater accomplishment than having achieved the presidency. Taft served one term in the Oval Office, after which he became a professor at Yale University Law School. In 1913, Alyn Williams included this miniature of Taft in an exhibition at Moulton and Ricketts Galleries in New York City. While looking over the display, Williams noticed that five of the miniatures, including his portrait of Taft, were missing. When the gallery assured him they had never received the paintings, Williams retraced his steps in an attempt to find them. Exhausted and discouraged, the artist returned to his hotel room that evening only to find the paintings in his dresser drawer, just where he had left them. Conservation of this miniature was made possible through a generous grant provided by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.
“One of the most uncomfortable four months of my life.” William Howard Taft, speaking of his 1908 presidential campaign, White House Web site
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist