By Stephanie Meredith
July 16, 2021
On April 10, 2021, the West Point Mint celebrated the first strike of the new American Eagle Gold and Silver Coins. The ceremony included ceremonial strikes by U.S. Mint Director David Ryder, Chief Engraver Joe Menna, West Point Mint Superintendent Ellen McCullom, and former Chief Engraver John Mercanti.
The gold and silver coins received a makeover for the American Eagle Coin Program’s 35th anniversary. The 2021 coins feature new reverse designs and refreshed obverses honoring the artists’ original visions. Modern engraving and minting technology allow the coins to be struck in greater detail than ever before.
The new reverse designs of the 2021 American Eagle Gold and Silver Coins both depict eagles. The gold coin shows a portrait of an eagle designed by Artist Infusion Program (AIP) designer Jennie Norris and sculpted by Mint Medallic Artist Renata Gordon. The silver coin features an eagle coming in for a landing, carrying an oak branch as if to add it to a nest. AIP designer Emily Damstra designed it and Mint Medallic Artist Michael Gaudioso sculpted it. The Mint added high detail to the eagle’s wings on the silver coin and to the eagle’s feathers on the gold coin.
The one-ounce gold coin and the silver coin also include new anti-counterfeit features. The most visible of these is the variation of the reed pattern on the edge of the coins.
The obverse designs of the gold and silver coins stay the same, but have enhancements that honor the artists’ original creative visions. The Mint medallic artists referenced historical assets of the 1907 $20 Gold Coin and the 1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar to pull out details that weren’t included in the original American Eagle Gold and Silver sculpts. Advanced engraving equipment allowed for a high level of detail to be captured on the coin dies.
American Eagle Gold Coin
The obverse of the American Eagle Gold Coin is based on a design by famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Saint-Gaudens to redesign the country’s coinage, which resulted in one of America’s most beautiful coins: the 1907 $20 (Double Eagle) Gold Coin. It shows Liberty facing forward, holding a torch in one hand and an olive branch in the other. The U.S. Capitol dome and rays of the sun appear in the background.
To refresh the design for the 2021 gold coin, Mint medallic artists used a bronze cast of the 1907 coin to capture more details of the original design. The bronze cast includes higher relief than the Mint could replicate on coins at the time of the original $20 gold piece. Those details are added to the refreshed sculpt.
To match Saint-Gaudens’ vision, the 2021 gold coins have modifications to the Capitol, stars, olive branch, and other elements. The shape and position of the sun’s rays are restored. The number of stars is returned to the number on the 1907 coin. Liberty’s eyes are enhanced for a stronger effect. The design also moves the position of Saint-Gaudens’ artist initials.
American Eagle Silver Coin
The obverse of the American Eagle Silver Coin is based on another iconic early 20th century design, Adolph A. Weinman’s 1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar. It features the figure of Liberty in full stride, enveloped in folds of the flag while the sun rises in the background. Her right hand is extended and she carries laurel and oak branches in her left.
Mint medallic artists used original assets from the 1916 half dollar to refresh the design. The 2021 silver coin returns some of the elements to their original positions, such as the folds of the flag and the sun’s rays. The font matches that used on the 1916 coin and the design returns Weinman’s artist initials to their original position. Liberty’s eye and the cap she wears are also modified to reflect Weinman’s intent.
The 2021 American Eagle Gold and Silver Coins mark a new period in the American Eagle Coin Program. The West Point Mint is producing the new coins with the highest level of detail. Find these products for sale in our online catalog.