By CoinWeek …..
On April 10th of 2021, the United States Mint at West Point made numismatic history with a special striking ceremony for the 35th anniversary of the American Eagle series. On this day, the Mint officially changed the coin’s design and began production of the new types. Present at this ceremony were U.S. Mint Director David Ryder, Chief Engraver Joe Menna, West Point Mint Superintendent Ellen McCullom, and former Chief Engraver John Mercanti.
In 2021, the West Point Mint produced a total of 1,811,000 Type 1 and 13,968,499 Type 2 ASEs, of which 200,000 of each type were labeled as Last Struck and First Struck coins. However, only 2,000 pieces were struck during the official ceremony, all of which were graded between MS 67 and MS 70. This special issuance is comprised of the last and first 500 designs of both the gold and silver coins.
Of these 2,000 coins, there are two of particular interest: the very last Type 1 and the very first Type 2 American Silver Eagle. These two silver eagles are currently up for auction as Lot 77: The Capstone to 35 Years of Production and Lot 78: The Dawn of a New American Icon.
For American Silver Eagle collectors, this pair represents a truly captivating opportunity to own one of the most important pieces of modern American numismatic history.
To mark this special occasion, the Mint partnered with a third-party auction house for only the second time in its history – both times choosing Stack’s Bowers. As part of a special deal with Stack’s Bowers, under which the auction house is responsible for auctioning the coins, all of the coins were sent to either PCGS or NGC for grading and certification. Each company developed a special label for the occasion. To help build interest in the sale, it was decided that Stack’s Bowers would waive their traditional Buyers Premium and the government would exempt the coins from sales tax!
Additionally, these two coins, and the corresponding pieces of the American Gold Eagle series–all four of which have been graded MS 70 by NGC–are to be sold separately.
Titled United States Mint American Eagle At Dusk and At Dawn 35th Anniversary Collection, this collection is truly the end of one era and the beginning of another. This is the first time since the beginning of the series in 1986 that the Mint has introduced a new reverse.
After being given approval by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in 2019, the Mint turned to both its in-house artists and those in the Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) to prepare a series of engaging designs. After receiving 39 proposals, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) met in June 2020. While the two groups recommended different designs, it was decided that AIP artist Emily Damstra’s Eagle Landing design (the CFA’s recommendation) was perfect for the Type 2 ASE reverse. The CCAC’s recommendation (Jennie Norris’s close-up eagle head design) would be placed on the reverse of the American Gold Eagle.
While John Mercanti’s Type 1 traditional Heraldic Eagle is rather stiff and formal, Emily Damstra’s new Type 2 design is dynamic. As a natural science illustrator, Damstra successfully depicted a majestic eagle with an oak branch clutched in its talons while arresting its flight on approach to a landing. Not only does one wing interrupt the legend, but, adding a further sense of movement, the eagles’ left wing reaches beyond the rim. When asked what her inspiration was when creating the design, Damstra discussed how she wanted to use the eagle in a unique way that could also “convey traits such as diligence, cooperation, care, and protection” (Damstra). On the whole, Damstra was intent on creating a sense of “gravitas and grace” with her design (Damstra).
While the reverse underwent a complete overhaul, the Type 2 ASE obverse was only reworked slightly, in an effort to bring it more closely in line with Adolph A. Weinman’s original Liberty Walking design. This included restoring the original shape of the sun rays, the draped American flag, and Lady Liberty’s cap. The text font was also changed slightly and Weinman’s initials were added under the IN GOD WE TRUST legend. To successfully complete these changes, the Mint used original plaster models of the 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar.
In a massive step for the US Mint, the Type 2 ASE also includes a series of innovative anti-counterfeiting elements, such as a reed pattern variation and hyper-detailed devices.
At the time of writing and with live bidding beginning on September 1, the highest pre-bid for the last official Type 1: Heraldic Eagle stands at $11,000 USD, while the first official Type 2: Eagle Landing is currently at $13,000.
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Damstra, 2021 – https://www.emilydamstra.com/american-eagle-silver-coin/