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US $20 Gold Piece 

The gold standard was an international monetary system in the nineteenth and twentieth century that was based on gold into and from which paper money was convertible.  It was theorized that this cycle could continue indefinitely and act as an automatic regulator.  This was true prior to the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918) when the central banks of the major world powers, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany, had large gold reserves whose primary purpose was to act as a means of stabilizing the international value of the currency against fluctuations resulting from trade deficits or surpluses.  In the case of a trade deficit, gold would flow out to meet the deficit and prices would fall.  This fall would stimulate a rise in exports resulting in a trade surplus and the inflow of gold. 

However, during World War I enormous strains were placed on this monetary system causing its collapse, and the convertibility of paper money into gold was suspended.  After the war, the major world powers attempted to return to the gold standard in order to stabilize the value of the currencies and create a secure foundation for the re-establishment of international trade, but only the United States was successful due to the large influx of gold that it had received from Europe during the war. 

This $20 gold piece was minted at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.  He decided that the country needed more artistic coins since the current ones were dull and boring, especially when compared to those of the ancient Greeks.  Augustus St. Gaudens was commissioned to design a coin in high relief which meant that the details of the coin were raised higher than the rims of the coin.  To accomplish this, the coins had to be struck multiple times.  This proved to be so difficult that the US Mint was only able to produce 11,250.  This coin, considered one of the most beautiful ever made in the United States, symbolizes the importance of gold in the American monetary system during this period. 



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