In 1804, Thomas Jefferson's personal secretary and Army Captain Meriwether Lewis, as well as Lewis' friend, Captain William Clark, began a long journey westward to explore newly acquired territory. It wasn't until September 1806 that they returned, after both had been rumored and believed dead. One hundred years later, a centennial celebration took place in St. Louis to commemorate the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, and the following year, in Portland, Oregon, Lewis and Clark themselves were commemorated.
The 1904 appropriations bill that funded these two celebrations also set a maximum mintage of 250,000 Gold dollars that would bear the likenesses of Lewis and Clark. It became the first and only U.S. coin, even to this day, to be double headed. The coin was designed and modeled by the Chief Mint Engraver Charles Barber and depicts a portrait of Lewis on the obverse and Clark on the reverse.
All of the Lewis & Clark Dollars were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1904 but remained in the Mint's vault until June 1905. Due to poor sales of the Louisiana Purchase dollars at $3 per coin, these were sold at $2 per coin. However, that did not save the fabled coin as public interest waned. In the end, more than 40,000 coin were melted leaving a net mintage of roughly 10,000 coins per date.
Though 10,000 pieces were distributed, a surprisingly few uncirculated examples exist. Most were worked into jewelry or used for silverware, while others were circulated. Most examples fall into the Extra Fine to Almost Uncirculated range. MS-60 to MS-63 examples are scarce, with MS-65 and above examples rarely seen. This example is graded MS-63+ by PCGS and contains .048375 oz of pure Gold.
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