In 1804 Thomas Jefferson's personal secretary and Army Captain Meriwhether Lewis as well as Lewis' friend, Captain William Clark, began a long journey westward to explore the newly acquired territory. It wasn't until September of 1806 that they returned after nearly two and a half years had passed and both had been rumored and believed dead. One hundred years later, a centennial celebration took place in St. Louis, Missouri to commemorate the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, and the following year, in Portland, Orgeon, Lewis and Clark themselves were commemorated. In addition to the funding of these two celebrations, the bill that was passed in early 1904 also set a maximum mintage of 250,000 gold dollars that would bear the likenesses of both Lewis and Clark. It became the first and only U.S. coin to be double headed. No coin prior or since has had that distinction. The coin was designed and modeled by the Chief Mint Engraver Charles Barber which depicts a poratrait 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, unreleased, until June of 1905. Due to poor sales in Missouri at $3.00 per coin, they were sold again in Oregon at $2.00 per coin. However, that did not save the fabled coin as public interest waned. In the end, over 40,000 1904 & 1905 Dollars were melted leaving a net mintage of roughly 10,000 coins per date. Though 10,000 pieces were distributed, 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 - MS-63 examples are scarce with MS-65 and above examples rarely seen. This coin is graded MS-61 by NGC and contains .048375 oz of pure gold!
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