By Bullion Shark LLC ……
The West Point Mint, which produces bullion and collector precious metal coinage for the United States Mint, recently struck the final Type 1 2021 American Silver Eagle and the first batch of the Type 2 coins you have likely heard about. Mint Director David J. Ryder personally struck the final and first coins of both types.
The new coins are being rolled out starting in early July in both bullion and Proof versions and are coming out at a time of unprecedented demand for silver bullion and especially for American Silver Eagles.
What you may not know is that the obverse has also been modified to more closely resemble Adolph Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar that has appeared as the obverse design of the Silver Eagle since 1986 as well as changes made to make the coins more secure.
And you also may not know why Emily Damstra, the US-Canadian artist who created the new reverse design for these coins, chose this particular image.
Ms. Damstra is a longtime freelance natural science illustrator whose work has appeared in various publications such as books on the Great Lakes and on United Nations postage stamps and an artist and coin designer focusing on the natural world and environment including especially elements such as trees and various animals.
In addition to having designed a number of coins for the Royal Canadian Mint–including the popular Birds of Prey series and the 2014 Maple Canopy: Autumn Allure coin that won a Coin of the Year Award–she has been a member of the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program since 2014 and created designs for 10 U.S. coins and medals, including the 2017 Boys Town centennial silver dollar that also won a COTY, other coins for programs like the America the Beautiful quarter series, and a congressional gold medal. She has also designed coins for other countries.
In October 2019 she signed a deal with PCGS to hand sign labels for certified coins.
New Silver Eagle Reverse
But the design for which she is surely likely to best be known — because of its iconic status and the fact that tens of millions and more coins will be struck with the design — is the reverse of the Type 2 American Silver Eagle – the flagship silver bullion and collector coin of the U.S. Mint issued since 1986. That design shows a bald eagle in flight with its wings and legs at full stretch to slow its descent as it approaches its nest (which is not shown).
The eagle is clutching an oak branch in its talons, which historically has been used on coins to symbolize longevity and strength as opposed to most coins that show them carrying olive branches. She likes oak as a symbol because it is a native American tree species and is actually America’s official national tree.
Bald eagles are known for building extremely large tree nests, the largest of any North American bird.
As she explained in a recent interview, she specifically chose this particular motif because eagles are her favorite representation of the U.S. and because a bald eagle, which has graced countless past American coins, had never before appeared on a U.S. coin in the dynamic way it is depicted on the new design. She reviewed past eagle designs on our coins before reaching that conclusion.
In addition, she explained that the Mint had originally assigned her to design the reverse of the American Gold Eagle, which until now has featured Miley Tucker Frost’s family of eagle design. She selected an image of a family of eagles because they will do anything to protect the family and because eagles are not just strong but also courageous, much as America itself.
With that background, she thought about American values and how nest construction could convey the ideas of family, diligence, and cooperation, which led her to her design. But in the end, the Treasury Secretary decided to use it for the Silver Eagle instead, choosing it from 39 total designs that included three Ms. Damstra submitted.
Her design was later sculpted by Michael Gaudioso, who recently retired from the Mint staff.
In addition to the new reverse, the Mint also gave the obverse a refresh. This included a number of differences in how the obverse design looks on the Type 2 coins compared to how it appears on the Type 1 coins (on which former Chief Engraver John Mercanti had made some small modifications to the original design to make the coins strike better), including:
- Adding the monogram of the designer, Adolph Weinman, or “AM” to the right field below “IN GOD WE TRUST”
- The letters in that motto are thicker and the first two words are closer to the last two
- Liberty’s palm and finger joints are less defined and the foot with a sandal is further from the rim and less defined
- The letter’s in “LIBERTY” have smaller serifs;
- Liberty’s hair is also less defined and the folds in her gown have been flattened
- “2021” appears in a larger and different font.
If you look closely at the coins when you receive them, you may even find other changes.
Finally, a notch has been added at the six o’clock position that is sculpted into the die collar, which is an anti-counterfeiting device. This notch will appear on the reverse of the Type 2 coins.