Incredible Louisiana Purchase Commemorative Gold Dollars From the Badlands Collection

In 1803, when the American government acquired the Louisiana Purchase from France, it more than doubled the size of the United States, adding land that would later become the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Minnesota. Nearly a century later it was decided that an Exposition would be held in 1903 to celebrate the anniversary of the purchase. As had been true of the World’s Columbian Exposition 11 years earlier, delays postponed the opening until April of 1904.

Popularly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition was held in Forest Park in St. Louis and by the time of its closing on December 1, 1904, about 20 million people had attended. The Exposition featured 15 major buildings, including four art palaces, and featured many exhibits including automobiles and other vehicles, and demonstrations of wireless telegraphy, electricity, and dirigibles. Among the artists represented were John Flanagan, Adolph A. Weinman, Evelyn Beatrice Longman, James Earle Fraser, Hermon A. MacNeil, and Daniel Chester French, all of whom are connected with coinage design.

On June 28, 1902, legislation was approved to coin 250,000 commemorative gold dollars in connection with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Numismatist Farran Zerbe, who was an advisor to the project, suggested that sales would be greater if two styles of gold dollars were struck. It was decided that two obverse designs would be created, one featuring Thomas Jefferson who had been president when the Louisiana Purchase was made, and one featuring recently assassinated William McKinley, who had been president when the Exposition was authorized. The reverse would be the same for both varieties.

In December 1902, 75,080 of the gold dollars were struck, followed by an additional 175,178 in January of the following year. One hundred examples of each design were produced with a Proof finish and packaged on an imprinted card to be given to favored insiders and Exposition and government officials. Interest in the commemorative gold dollars was much less than anticipated, especially at a price of $3 each, triple the face value. In time, 215,000 Louisiana Purchase gold dollars were returned to the Mint for melting, leaving an actual distribution figure of 35,000 pieces for both designs combined.

In our November Baltimore auction, Stack’s Bowers Galleries is pleased to present two very special Louisiana Purchase gold dollars from the Badlands Collection of U.S. Commemorative Gold, currently the #1 NGC Registry Set. The Jefferson Portrait example is one of the 100 special Proofs struck, and is graded an amazing Proof-67*, Ultra Cameo by NGC. The piece is extremely beautiful with gleaming yellow gold surfaces and pronounced contrast. It is one of only three to receive this superb grade and cameo designation from NGC. The McKinley Portrait gold dollar displays attractive softly frosted luster and handsome rose-orange patina and is graded MS-68 by NGC.

These Louisiana Purchase gold dollars are just two of the incredible gold commemoratives that make up the Badlands Collection of U.S. Commemorative Gold, all to be offered as part of our official auction of the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, November 6th through 8th at the Baltimore Convention Center. Our catalogs for the sale will be in the mail soon, and the entire auction will be available for viewing at our website: For information on lot viewing, auction location and times visit our website or call 1-800-458-4646.

If you have coins or an entire collection that you would like to consign to one of our upcoming auction sales, contact one of our consignment directors. We are accepting consignments for our 2014 New York Americana Sale and March Baltimore Sale. Whether buying or selling, our team of experts and specialists look forward to working with you!

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