High Relief and Ultra High Relief Coins, with enlarged Ultra High Relief Coin in Background

What Are High Relief & Ultra High Relief Gold Coins?


Written by John Rothans

Apr 19, 2019

You can find many beautiful coins, but only a select few take your breath away. The Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin is one of them, but what makes this coin so special? Learn the history behind high relief coins and find out how they can benefit your portfolio.

Defining High Relief & Ultra High Relief

Ultra-High Relief Gold CoinWhen it involves a coin, “high relief” and “ultra high relief” mean design elements are raised above the surface, or field. An ultra high relief coin from the U.S. Mint has a higher degree of protrusion from a coin’s field than a high relief does. These coins stand out for their sculpture-like texture, rich detail, and bright luster. Both types of coins are only available in minimal quantities, primarily because they’re challenging to strike. A highly specialized and difficult minting process is required to produce even one coin.

The History Behind High Relief Coins – A Dream Fulfilled

The Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin, released by the U.S. Mint in 2009, is a 1-ounce, 24k star among American gold coins. It pays tribute to one of the most stunning U.S. coins ever minted: the 1907 High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin.

Among the standout features of the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin are that it:

  • Measures 4 mm thick to showcase the ultra high relief.
  • Features rare Roman numeral dating.
  • Has an additional four stars and the inscription “In God We Trust,” which were not on the 1907 version.

Not sure why a coin’s thickness merits being called a “standout feature”? For comparison, the Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin is 28% thicker than a High Relief Gold American Liberty Coin, and 39% thicker than a Proof Gold American Eagle Coin!

Comparison Chart: Coin Thickness

Image Year Mint Gold Content Name  Thickness
Gold American Eagle Proof Any U.S Mint 1 oz. Proof American Eagle 2.87 mm
High Relief Gold American Liberty Coin 2015 U.S Mint 1 oz. High Relief Gold American Liberty 3.128 mm
Ultra-High Relief Gold Coin 2009 U.S Mint 1 oz. Ultra High Relief Gold Double Eagle 4 mm


The Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin fulfills the vision of legendary coin designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens, of an ultra high relief coin that could not be carried out in the early 20th century with his original, iconic Double Eagle Gold Coin.

On both versions, Lady Liberty shines on the obverse (the front or “heads” side), while a bald eagle in flight graces the reverse (the back or “tails” side). On the front, Lady Liberty holds a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left hand as she strides ahead. On the back, the eagle soars during sunrise.

In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt recruited Saint-Gaudens to spruce up common design elements on American coins. Roosevelt sought a coin that reflected America in all of her glory and splendor. Saint-Gaudens, who had created noteworthy statues honoring Civil War heroes, came up with a design that was supposed to be struck in ultra high relief.

Unfortunately, the shared vision of Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens required 11 strikes from the coining press, making the coin impossible to mint for mass production. The ultra high relief also made the coin inconvenient for packaging and shipping, so in 1907 the coin was struck in low relief. Saint-Gaudens died later that year—before he could see his design come to life on minted coins.

One hundred and two years after the death of Saint-Gaudens, the U.S. Mint released the ultra high relief coin that Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens had envisioned.

Thanks to 21st-century technology, the U.S. Mint digitally mapped the original Saint-Gaudens coin plasters in order to strike the ultra high relief version. Compared with the original, the updated coin changes the year to 2009, adds four stars to represent the current 50 states, and includes the inscription “In God We Trust.” Additionally, a small border gives the 2009 coin a finer edge than its 1907 predecessor. Perhaps most notably, the modern version of the coin is made of pure 24k gold rather than less malleable 22k gold.

Benefits of Buying High Relief Coins

front and back of Ultra High Relief Double Eagle in plastic casingWhat makes ultra high relief and high relief coins so coveted, aside from their relative limited availability, sheer beauty, and unparalleled craftsmanship?

Prices of certified gold coins such as these are based on the spot price of gold and factors also related to supply and demand in the rare coin marketplace. When compared to bullion coins, certified gold coins are one way that owners of precious metal owners can minimize risk and maximize reward.

The designs of the 1907 High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin and 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin—designs introduced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens with the backing of President Teddy Roosevelt—have certainly stood the test of time. They remain among a limited number of coins whose looks and legacy make them extremely attractive to coin enthusiasts and asset holders alike.

Call U.S. Money Reserve at 1-844-307-1589 to learn more about certified gold coin prices and live pricing on the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin.


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