Oct 2nd 2020
The United States Mint on Oct. 1 unveiled the new reverse design for the 2021 American Silver Eagle. The design is scheduled to appear in midyear, with Mint officials thus far silent on how the design transition will be conducted before the new coin is released. We can't help but feel a sense of loss for the famed John Mercanti designed Heraldic Eagle based on centuries of designs that echo across the ages.
The new reverse of the American Eagle silver coin with a modern twist will depict an eagle in flight with an oak branch in its talons, a design favored by the Commission of Fine Arts for the American Eagle gold bullion coin.
The year 2021 marks the 35th Anniversary of the American Eagle Coin Program, and the new designs will begin appearing on these coins in midyear 2021, according to the Mint.
“These beautiful design builds on the United States Mint’s heritage of artistic excellence and fortify the American Eagle Coin Program’s status as an icon in the numismatic and art worlds,” said Mint Director David J. Ryder.
The silver coin’s design depicts a single eagle coming in for a landing, carrying an oak branch as if to add it to a nest, according to the Mint. AIP designer Emily Damstra created the design, which was sculpted by Mint medallic artist Michael Gaudioso before his retirement.
Reflecting on her design, Damstra commented: “My inspiration for this design grew from a desire to show our national bird with all of the values it embodies in a unique way that could also convey traits such as diligence, cooperation, care, and protection.”
The announcement that the new design would not be introduced until mid-2021, possibly setting up the creation of two distinct design types (Mint officials are so far mum) for the year, might be considered something of a surprise. A major design change of this kind might be expected to be introduced at the start of the year. However, if the Mint splits production between two different designs, each for a limited period of time, that could affect the numbers of the bullion coins of both designs the Mint’s authorized purchasers order. This could set in motion a limited Mercanti Reverse minted in early 2021, stay tuned.
The obverses of the redesigned American Silver Eagle coin “will continue to bear versions of the historic designs that have been featured on this coin for more than three decades. The silver coin will display a refreshed depiction of the 1916 ‘Walking Liberty’ design by famed sculptor Adolph A. Weinman,” the Mint said.
According to the Mint press release, “The San Francisco-minted 2020 American Eagle One Ounce Silver Proof Coin (20EM) and the West Point-minted 2020 American Eagle One Ounce Gold Uncirculated Coin (20EH) will be the last issues of these coins featuring the current design.”
Previously, Mint officials had said that only the bullion coins would get design changes in 2021; numismatic designs would not be changed until 2022. This could confirm that the 2020 Proof American Silver Eagle is the last with the Mercanti Reverse.
The press release did not address one prime impetus for the Mint’s design changes: security enhancements to the designs.
Previously, Mint officials said that anti-counterfeiting technology would be incorporated into the new reverse designs. Mint officials have not identified the technology to be used, but they indicate the design changes are being introduced to coincide with implementation of anti-counterfeiting steps at the production stage.