Former U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John M. Mercanti said March 12 that he isn’t surprised that formal efforts are being taken to replace his Heraldic Eagle reverse that has graced the reverse of the silver American Eagle bullion coin since 1986.
“I figured it was a matter of time before they did something with that,” said Mercanti, who retired Dec. 30, 2011, after 46 years of U.S. government service — 36 of those spent as a sculptor-engraver at the U.S. Mint — leaving as chief engraver. “It’s been talked about over the years. Let’s see where it goes. Something eventually had to move on it. It’s been a great program for collectors.”
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee has scheduled a special telephone meeting April 8 to recommend a new reverse for the bullion version of the 1-ounce .999 fine silver American Eagle.
Getting the silver American Eagle reverse changed has been a longtime CCAC priority, mentioned for several years in its annual report.
CCAC Chairman Gary Marks announced the initiative for the meeting during a March 11 meeting in Washington as the panel was considering several eagle designs proposed for the three-coin 2015 U.S. Marshals Service 225th Anniversary commemorative coin program.
Marks said any of the proposed commemorative coin designs that were not approved and did not receive CCAC endorsement would still make ideal candidates for the silver American Eagle program.
Since Mercanti’s Heraldic Eagle has been on the coin for 28 years, the Treasury Department can, on its own initiative, and with the approval of the Treasury secretary, change the design without congressional approve.
The Coinage Act of Sept. 26, 1890, codified in Title 31 of the U.S. Code § 5112 (d)(2), states: “The Secretary shall prepare the devices, models, hubs, and dies for coins, emblems, devices, inscriptions, and designs authorized under this chapter.
“The Secretary may, after consulting with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts, adopt and prepare new designs or models of emblems or devices that are authorized in the same way as when new coins or devices are authorized.
“The Secretary may change the design or die of a coin only once within 25 years of the first adoption of the design, model, hub, or die for that coin. The Secretary may procure services under section 3109 of title 5 in carrying out this paragraph.”