Obv: bare head left with triangle stops in legend that would reappear on the 1907 gold eagle dividing name and legends, THEODORE. ROOSEVELT. AEQVVM./ CVIQVE. PRESIDENT. OF. THE./ .VNITED. STATES. OF. AMERICA. Rev: majestic walking eagle in ancient Ptolemaic style faces left on rocky crag, a design also to reappear on the 1907 $10 gold coinage, WASHINGTON. D.C. MARCH. IV. M.C.M.V., .E./ .PLVRIBVS. - .VNVM. Deep golden-brown with luster and excellent quality to the high relief devices on both sides. No handling marks or errant scuffs are present, making for a cast bronze medal of exquisite quality with eye appeal to match.
This classical medal resulted from conversations of the dynamic President with sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens concerning the dowdy, small diameter official Inaugural medal struck by the Philadelphia firm of Joseph K. Davison's Sons and modeled after Charles E. Barber's U.S. Mint Presidential medal. Saint-Gaudens was still smarting over Barber's arrogant appropriation of the reverse for the World's Columbian Exposition Award medal and would soon plunge into redesign of the gold $20 and $10 coins at the urgent invitation of the President. Ill and over-committed, Saint-Gaudens sketched the basic design for this Inaugural medal, one of the few medals actually designed by the famed sculptor, during a train trip to Washington, assuring Roosevelt that his pupil A.A. Weinman was the most qualified man in America to complete the project. Tiffany and Co. cast three Inaugural Medals in gold and 125 in bronze. All of the 125 bronze pieces were personnally distributed by Teddy Roosevelt, so holding the present medal is almost like holding a personal gift from Roosevelt.
Since the late Hank Spangenberger began writing about the Inaugural series in Numismatic Scrapbook in 1969, followed by publication of the Richard Dusterberg, H. Joseph Levine, and Neil MacNeil books on Inaugural medals, collector interest has steadily grown. The Theodore Roosevelt medal is the hands-down key to the entire series of Presidential Inaugural medals.