Watkins writes: Doc, In 1907 there was slightly over 20,000 twenty dollar gold coins minted with the roman numeral dates. I believe there were actually two issued with roman numeral date. Is this true and if so was there any melt down and who ordered it.
The first prototypes (actually patterns) of the Standing Liberty Double Eagle were by St. Gaudens and are known as Ultra-High Relief, Roman Numeral Date. There were only about twenty-four of these minted as proofs, one of which became President Theodore Roosevelt’s private example. Other varieties of the High Relief $20 exist and are either unique or were made in very small numbers.
There is also a “Regular” High Relief that was supposed to be the circulating version of this coin. About 12,000 of these were minted. Mint employees could purchase this coin for face value and some of these still exist in the original mint boxes.
After the death of Augustus St. Gaudens, Charles Barber, the Mint’s Engraver, developed a practical version of the St. Gaudens design, with a much lower relief and with Arabic numerals replacing the Roman numerals of the original design. (1907 mintage less than 362,000).
The original High Relief design was very difficult to strike and many test examples ended up in the melting pot. Recycling is typical when experimenting with a new die design. There were no mass meltings of issued pieces in 1907.