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Augustus Saint-Gaudens


Born in Dublin, Ireland. Married Augusta F. Homer in 1877. Employed as a cameo cutter. Attended Cooper Union for four years. Studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris 1867 to 1870. He began to spend summers in Cornish, New Hampshire in 1885. In 1900 he moved there permanently. Cornish became a small artist's colony. He had an illegitimate son in 1889. He received the medal of honor in Paris in 1900 and a special medal of honor at Buffalo in 1901.

Saint Gaudens was one of the outstanding artists of the period and influenced others for years to follow. He executed medals in low relief and monuments of massive size.

In 1905 Saint Gaudens received a commission from President Theodore Roosevelt to prepare models for a new one cent piece, ten dollar gold and twenty dollar gold. He intended to use a flying eagle design for the obverse and a wreath reverse. The design was not approved. The general design for the 10 dollar gold coin was accepted and modified for coinage. The original design for the 20 dollar gold was executed in abnormally high relief. The pieces were difficult to strike and would not stack. Saint Gaudens was in poor health as the coins went into production. His assistant, Henry Hering, had several conflicts with Charles Barber over the ability of the mint to reproduce Saint Gaudens designs. The design was modified by Charles Barber in low relief. The design was used again for the obverse of the American Eagle gold bullion coins. They were first produced in MCMLXXXVI (1986).

Saint Gaudens died in Cornish, New Hampshire.

bio: ApCAB; DAB; EAB; Fielding; NCAB 1, 8; P-F; TCBDA; WAB; WWWA-1; WWWAmArt

obit: AJN 42 1907 page 31; NUM 20 Sep 1908 page 266

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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