Oh what could have been!
A week ago, Eric von Klinger had an article in Coin World on the Saint-Gaudens pattern coins, telling a lot about the design process for the double eagle. Well, Teddy Roosevelt fully intended Saint-Gaudens to redesign every circulating coin in the country, to rid the populace of the "atrocious hideousness" of the then current designs. The other day I was thinking, what if Saint-Gaudens hadn't died before he finished the reworking of American coinage under Roosevelt? Specifically, What if his cent design was adoped in 1907? You can see an image of the plaster model of his cent at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site website at: http://www.sgnhs.org/Augustus%20SGaudens%20CD-HTML/CoinsAndMedals/OneCent.htm. I believe that had his cent design been implemented, the Lincoln cent in 1909 would have been a one year circulating commemorative with the resumption of the Saint-Gaudens cent in 1910. Without the Lincoln cent, it's doubtful that the Washington quarters would have been more than a one-year circulating commem in 1932, the same goes for the Jefferson in 1938, and the Roosevelt in 1946 and the Kennedy half in 1964. That one little cent, could have changed the course of numismatic history, eliminating the stale designs of dead presidents we must endure today (and perhaps even eliminated the Virginia Congressional Delegation's iron-fisted control over out nickel designs!). Just imagine what could have been, had Augustus Saint-Gaudens been able to complete his mission to completely redesign America's "ugly" coins of the early 20th century, spreading his vision, beauty and execution beyond the eagle and double eagle.