Collectors waited a year, until 2016, before the U.S. Mint finally
issued the American Liberty silver medals.
The Aug. 23 sales launch, however, soured many hobbyists, when they
were shut out of successfully placing an order for the limited-edition
The U.S. Mint offered just 12,500 medals each from the Proof
production at the West Point Mint and San Francisco Mint.
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The silver medal mintage was well below that set for the 2015
American Liberty gold $100 coin, which shared its design with the medals.
Collectors eagerly anticipated the silver medals, because they were
more affordable than the gold coin.
The medals were offered at $34.95 each, with a household ordering
limit of one medal from each of the two Mints, for a total of two medals.
The low mintage and customer demand resulted in a sellout for both
medals, in a matter of minutes after the Mint’s noon release. Coin
World was immediately deluged with telephone calls and email from
disgruntled Mint customers who were unsuccessful in purchasing the medals.
Secondary market prices quickly rose. Two-medal offerings of
examples graded Proof 69 Deep Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service or Proof 69
Ultra Cameo by Numismatic
Guaranty Corp. have sold in online auctions from between $200
and $425, with individual examples selling at about half of those levels.
Examples of either medal in Proof 70 Deep Cameo or Proof 70 Ultra
Cameo have sold for up to nearly $450 per medal.
The Proof silver medals are struck on 40.6-millimeter, .999 fine
silver planchets, the same as those used for American Eagle silver dollars.
U.S. Mint officials have not disclosed how many of each medal were
purchased individually, or how many orders requested one medal from
each of the two production facilities.
The obverse of the 2016 American Liberty silver medal was designed
by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Justin Kunz and sculptured by U.S. Mint Medallic
Sculptor Phebe Hemphill.
Hemphill is a member of the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff
headquartered at the Philadelphia Mint.
The obverse design depicts an interpretation of a modern Liberty,
portrayed standing, crowned with leaves, and holding an American flag
on staff in her left hand and a torch in her extended right hand.
The reverse design was created by AIP artist Paul C. Balan and sculptured by U.S. Mint
Sculptor Engraver Donald Everhart II.
Everhart is the senior-tenured member of the Mint’s engraving staff.
The medal’s reverse design depicts an American eagle rising in
flight, gripping a branch in its talons.
The 2016 American Liberty silver medals are the first to be issued
under an initiative for a comprehensive arts medal program championed
by Gary Marks when he was Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee chairman.
The U.S. Mint plans to issue several American Liberty silver medals
in 2017 to complement the 1792–2017-W American Liberty gold $100 coin.
Plans call for the production of a silver medal at each of the four
production facilities — West Point, Denver, Philadelphia and San
Francisco — with each Mint to produce a different finish.
U.S. Mint officials have not yet disclosed whether the finishes will
be among those executed on previous numismatic products — Proof,
Reverse Proof, Uncirculated, and Enhanced Uncirculated — or whether
the bureau will be introducing any new finish or finishes. The current
finishes are executed through a series of laser-enhanced and
die-polishing techniques. Some recent U.S. commemoratives exhibit
multiple finishes on the same coin.
Read all of our Coin World Top 10 of 2016 series:
- U.S. Mint issues gold Centennial coins
- Pogue IV auction tops $16 million
- Rare English gold coin found in toy
- Boutique bullion trend catches on worldwide
- Langbord 1933 double eagle case rolls on
- 1974-D aluminum cent returned to U.S. Mint
- Treasury announces new Federal Reserve note
- 1964 Morgan dollar tooling uncovered
- American Liberty silver medal released
- U.S. Mint plans yearlong 225th anniversary party