What designs did the Commission of Arts favor for Proof platinum American Eagles?

Review panel opts not to specify recommendations for which year of three-year program
By , Coin World
Published : 09/16/16
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John Mercanti’s Statue of Liberty-themed Portrait of Liberty design that has appeared on the obverse of the Proof and bullion American Eagle platinum coins since 1997 will disappear from the Proof version for at least three years beginning in 2018.

The United States Mint will introduce in 2018 a new three-year series of Proof American Eagle platinum coins bearing designs reflecting the American core principles of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness espoused in the Declaration of Independence. The obverse designs will change in each of the three years, instead of the reverse, which has been the side traditionally bearing the changing themes.

The Proof coins for 2018, 2019 and 2020 will share a common reverse, yet to be decided. Designs other than the original Thomas D. Rogers Sr. Soaring Eagle design introduced in 1997 are being considered for that common reverse.

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The Commission of Fine Arts Sept. 15 reviewed proposed design submissions for the three-year-program, ranking the top three sets they favored. In most image sets, the Mint grouped three obverse designs that share stylistic qualities to depict each mandated topic, and a single reverse.

The design set of sketches the CFA favors embodies elements inspired by the Statue of Liberty. The CFA recommends a common reverse for all three years taken from another set of designs, not the design the Mint grouped with the recommended obverses.

CHECK THEM OUT: All of the new Proof platinum American Eagle designs being considered

CFA members, while indicating their favorite set of designs, did not specifically recommend the obverses be used for any particular year, including the date that appears on each sketch.

According to the narratives accompanying each design, the obverse design favored by the CFA that bears a 2018 date “portrays Lady Liberty as an emblem of American ideals, promising a new ‘Life’ through opportunity and freedom to seek liberty and happiness.”

The obverse design favored by the CFA that bears a 2019 date “conveys ‘Liberty’ through broken shackles and chains, a representation of the right of self-determination. The design draws its inspiration from the actual sculpted broken chains that lay at the Statue of Liberty’s feet, part of its commemoration of the perseverance of freedom and democracy in the United States.”

The obverse design favored by the CFA that bears a 2020 date “features the Statue of Liberty’s torch as a beacon for those pursuing their dreams and ambitions while also being afforded a life of safety and freedom.”

The recommended common reverse “depicts an eagle in flight, an olive branch in its talons.”

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee was scheduled to review the same designs Sept. 16.

Revolving reverses

The reverse design of the Proof American Eagle platinum coins has changed annually since 1998. Both obverse and reverse of the bullion version, in years when it has been offered, have been static, pairing Mercanti’s obverse design with a reverse retaining Thomas D. Rogers Sr.’s Soaring Eagle design first introduced in 1997. Both Mercanti and Rogers were sculptor-engravers at the U.S. Mint when the American Eagle platinum coins were introduced in 1997.

For the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle platinum program in 2017, all versions of the coins will bear the original designs from 1997.

It has not been determined whether the Mercanti and Rogers designs will be further used for American Eagle platinum bullion issues after 2017.

No decision has been announced by U.S. Mint officials as to what obverse and reverse designs will appear on the bullion version of the American Eagle platinum coins, if such coins are offered, in 2018, 2019, or 2020.

Changing the obverse

The U.S. Mint tasked its engraving staff and outside Artistic Infusion Program designers to execute proposed designs for the three-year platinum American Eagle program from 2018 to 2020 inclusive.

“We asked artists to develop submissions for all three years, creating designs that not only well represent each individual theme, but that also work together harmoniously to give expression to the core American principles of ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,’ ” according to the Mint’s narratives accompanying the nearly four dozen designs developed for review by the mandated committees. “Most participating artists also submitted optional reverse designs of American eagles to be considered with their obverse sets.

“Required obverse inscriptions for the platinum proof coin are ‘Liberty,’ ‘In God We Trust,’ ‘E Pluribus Unum’ and the year of issuance. An additional inscription of ‘Life’ has been added on some of the 2018 obverse designs and ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ on some of the 2020 obverses.”

The designs submitted for consideration included four stand-alone reverses that, though they had been submitted for previous programs and never adopted, are still deemed worthy by the review panels.

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