The United States Mint’s intention to produce the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle was first announced on March 13, 2008. The news was delivered by Director Edmund Moy during a meeting of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The purpose of recreating the Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ original design was to “spur the highest level of artistic excellence in American coin design”. Moy said it would be “a defining moment in American coinage.”
Several months later on July 30, 2008, the United States Mint showcased the development of the coin at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, Maryland. The finished one ounce 24 karat gold coins were included as the last stage of a four phase exhibit, providing the public with their first glimpse of the upcoming coin.
The first production strikes would occur on November 24, 2008 at the West Point Mint. Members of the media were invited to witness Director Moy striking the first two coins. The first coin was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution, while the second coin was placed within the United States Mint’s heritage assets.
The US Mint began accepting orders for the coins from the public on January 22, 2009 at 12:00 Noon ET. Due to the anticipated high demand, the Mint imposed an ordering limit of only one coin per household and indicated that delivery could potentially take six to nine months based on gold blank availability. The initial pricing for the coins was $1,189 each. At the time, the market price of gold was $860 per ounce.
Demand was heavy and sales were swift. During the course of the first day of sales, customers ordered 18,173 coins. Within five days, more than 40,000 coins had been ordered.
The first coins were received by collectors on February 9, 2009. Due to the household order limits and often lengthy delays in order fulfillment, the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagles began to change hands on the secondary market at a premium to the issue price. Collectors were willing to pay a premium to acquire multiple examples of the coin, or for the opportunity to have the coin in hand. Premiums persisted throughout the course of the offering with some major coin dealers offering a bounty to purchase the coins.