By Rist, Curtis
American Heritage , Vol. 55, No. 4
Coins have long fascinated collectors and investors alike, for both their history and their solid value. In helping people make wise selections and purchases, Blanchard & Company has emerged as the nation's largest and most respected retail dealer in rare coins and precious metals. From its headquarters in New Orleans, the company has provided more than 300,000 consumers with expert consultation and assistance in gold, platinum, silver and other coin and bullion-related investments. Blanchard is a leading advocate of consumer protection as well. The company publishes "A Consumer's Guide to Coin Investing and Collecting" in cooperation with the U.S. Postal Service. So far, Blanchard has distributed more than 230,000 copies free of charge.
The Stories Behind the Coins
Blanchard's unparalleled knowledge of the stories behind the coins sets it apart from its competitors and greatly enhances the coins' value. One example is the history of the $20 gold Saint-Gaudens, which ranks as the most beautiful American coin ever minted. Conceived by President Theodore Roosevelt, who wanted U.S. coinage to bear the more regal and artistic designs reflected in Greek artwork, the coin was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a renowned artist and sculptor. Once minting began in 1907, it was evident that Saint-Gaudens had succeeded in creating an astoundingly beautiful coin.
Almost immediately, however, the $20 coin faced opposition from all sides. While beautiful, the coin's high relief was impractical, and the U.S. mint complained that the coin took too long to create because of the multiple stampings it required. Bankers said the coins could not be stacked and were therefore unfit for business. The ultimate indignity came in 1933, when another Roosevelt--Theodore's cousin Franklin--confiscated all gold bullion in exchange for paper money. …