Sarah Polk First Spouse Gold Coins
The twelfth in a series of commemoratives designed to honor former first ladies of the United States is the Sarah Polk First Spouse Gold Coins from the US Mint. Struck from 1/2 ounce of 24 carat gold with a face value of $10, the coins are offered in proof and uncirculated condition.
The US Mint launched the gold first lady coins on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009 at noon ET. The initial proof selling price was $654 and $641 for the uncirculated. These prices are subject to change weekly based on the US Mint gold coin pricing policy which links the market price of gold to the selling price for the precious metal coins. For more information, see First Spouse Coins Price Grid.
Together the proof and uncirculated coins have a combined maximum mintage of 40,000 as outlined in the the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, the law that authorized the series.
Phebe Hemphill designed and sculpted both the obverse and the reverse of the Sarah Polk coins. The obverse shows a portrait of Sarah while the reverse has Sarah and her husband President James Polk working diligently in the White House.
Sarah Polk Biography (1803-1891)
Born in 1803 to a prominent family in Tennessee, Sarah would receive a level of education usually only available to the sons of wealthy men of the time. She attended the Moravian Female Academy at Salem, North Carolina, and then Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Both schools were among the few that taught higher learning to women.
At age 20, Sarah married James Polk, 8 years her senior after a short engagement. The two had known each other for several years and the 1824 marriage was not a surprise to those that knew the couple.
Quite successful, James served as a congressman for several terms. Sarah joined him in Washington as much as she could, and they quickly were accepted into the society of the city. James would also serve as Governor of Tennessee.
With her schooling, Sarah was quite adept at conversation and known to be quite intelligent. These traits would serve her and her husband quite well in the political forums of the day.
Elected to the Presidency in 1844, James would rely heavily on the advice of Sarah. She would actually serve as his private secretary, a position no other First Wife had ever, or has since done. Known to help write his speeches, she also pre-read newspapers and correspondence to prioritize items for the President.
Sarah’s contributions to the White House, other than her political help to James, was varied in its result. A devout Presbyterian, Sarah is said to have banned dancing and hard liquor at all White House functions. On the other hand, she instituted a policy of opening the White House to all for receptions twice a week in which she personally greeted everyone. Also, she had the Marine Corps Band playing once a week on the lawn for everyone’s enjoyment.
Exhausting himself as President, James died 3 months after leaving office, never having a child with Sarah. She would live another 42 years, always wore black, and never remarried. She was buried next to James at their Nashville home and was later reinterred with him at the state capitol.
- United States Mint information/order page
- Initial US Mint announcement
- Sarah Polk First Spouse Medal Images
- Sarah Polk First Spouse Coin Designs
- White House Biography