Voices

Does the silver American Eagle bullion coin really need a new reverse design?

Editorial column from May 26, 2014, issue of Coin World
By Steve Roach , Coin World
Published : 05/09/14
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Affordability.  Credibility.  Beauty.

According to the U.S. Mint, these three factors have made the American Eagle silver bullion coin a trusted store of value globally. 

To help with the beauty end of things, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee wants a new reverse design for all versions of silver American Eagles. 

The change has been a long-standing goal of the CCAC, and committee Chairman Gary Marks announced the most recent initiative during a March 11 meeting in Washington, and confirmed it during an April 8 committee meeting by telephone

The current reverse by former U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John M. Mercanti is paired with an obverse design by Adolph Weinman first used on the Walking Liberty half dollar in 1916. Both designs have been essentially unchanged since 1986. 

Perhaps the largest complaint with the Mercanti reverse design in that it’s not connected with Weinman’s Walking Liberty obverse. Some have even called the Mercanti reverse stodgy. However, in its formality, the Mercanti design does provide an official solidity that’s appropriate for a bullion coin that is supposed to be a trusted store of value. In other words, it lends credibility to the coin. 

That’s not to say that the reverse design can’t be improved, but sales of the bullion coins are seemingly not hurting because of the design.

In 2013 nearly 43 million American Eagle silver bullion coins were sold by the U.S. Mint. It’s the world’s leading silver bullion coin and demand shows no signs of slowing down. As I write this, American Eagle silver bullion sales in 2014 by the U.S. Mint are approaching 20 million coins. 

But the reasoning behind a design change should be more than mere aesthetics.

The CCAC initially recommended that the reverse be changed for just the silver bullion version of the American Eagle. It has now extended the recommended change to all versions of silver American Eagles.

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15 comments
IMO, changing the reverse would provide a couple benefits. It might help hinder counterfeiting, and it would be an incentive for collectors to purchase. As for myself... I stopped collecting Eagles when it became apparent that the mint's distribution policies were geared toward the secondary (retail resellers and investment brokers) collector market. For me, that made the hope of assembling a complete set unrealistic. After all, they aren't even "coins". Their "face value" is a joke. At least Canada has a $20 for $20 program, even if the amount of silver is substantially less, so a collector needn't be a gambler OR a sucker.
That's MY 2 cents' worth.
If the design is to be changed then this is not the right design. It does not have the right stature for an American Coin. The letter style is wrong. The Eagle is the wrong size, profile and needs less detailing. This is a design that needs to go out to other designers of coins to see different artworks and then voted on by the public for the best design.
I think the new reverse would be great on the silver eagle. it's a beautiful design and would give collectors and investors something to look forward too.
The usual reasons for changing a design just don't apply to these coins. They never go into circulation so wear is never a problem. Size and famiilarity are not issues for precisely the same reason. The only possible reason is aesthetics. They already put Liberty on a weight loss program and did implant surgery on her boobs for the obverse, messing what is without a doubt one of the most beautiful coins ever minted. Did the Mint learn nothing from the First Lady and Presidentail series? You can only reach into our pockets just so often and we are fickle. The coin is a success leave it alone. Mess with the proofs all you want, leave the bussiness strikes too us small fry who don't have room too display a Type collection with 17 new entries every year
No we don't need a new design change to the back
back of the AMERICAN EAGLE !!
Leave it alone, and save us collector some money!!.
The $5 appears to me as a dollar value that is placed on an eagle?
Keep the current reverse.
Mercanti's eagle should be rotated 45 degrees so that it soars.
The desire to change the reverse of all of the American Eagle Silver Bullion coins as suggested by the CCAC raises many additional questions unanswered chief among them are; Why only the reverse? What do they think is wrong with the current reverse that they want to Change? What effect, if any, would changing the reverse have on sales?
The current version is one of the most popular and well known coins throughout the world by bullion and coin collectors alike, as well as the general public. Laws require our regular coinage to periodically be changed. That is not the case for bullion coins. The current version, both front and reverse, have become one of the most respected examples of what America means to the rest of the world. While there is no objection for change in general, change for change sake is illogical and inefficient. The operative maxim for this issue should be: IF IS AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!
Barry Rock
Mr. Roach states in his opening paragraph that "Affordability, Credibility (and) Beauty... have made the American Eagle silver bullion coin a trusted store of value globally." He goes on to point out that "It's the world's leading silver bullion coin ..." Sooo, naturally, we should change its design. Perhaps, we should create a Citizens Flag Advisory Committee to change the design of the American flag. "Some" think it's a bit 'stodgy', too! - A stodgy U.S. bullion coin collector
Never underestimate the federal governments ability to fix what's not broken.

John Kaszyc
Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
Both obverse and the reverse designs of the American Eagle coins should remain the same. These are truly American icons and should not be tampered with!
Keep the bullion version the same, and change it for the burnished and proof...that would be cool.
I don't see why there would be a need to change the design when it's universally recognized. If anything, how about making the coin more resistant to counterfeiting. This is where credibility and reliability come in to enhance what is already a best seller. I think changing the design too much might be viewed negatively.
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