US Coins

Officials unveil American Liberty High Relief designs

Liberty’s appearance as a young African American woman on the 1792–2017-W American Liberty gold $100 coin is a significant departure from previous classic renderings to represent the ideal.

U.S. Mint and Treasury Department officials unveiled the approved designs Jan. 12 for the obverse, reverse and edge of the gold $100 coin, which will be issued to mark the Mint’s 225th anniversary.

The approved designs were shown during special ceremonies in the ornate Cash Room of the main Treasury Building in Washington. The ceremony was webcast live. The designs were approved June 29, 2016, by Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin.

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Following remarks from Mint Chief of Staff Elisa Basnight, Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and U.S. Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson and the unveiling of the approved designs, those in attendance exited to a reception in the West Gables Room, during which examples of the gold coin struck at the West Point Mint, test strikes and coinage dies used in production were exhibited.

VIDEO: Watch how the 2017 American Liberty gold coin is struck

The coin is being struck on a 1-ounce .9999 fine gold planchet measuring 30.61 millimeters in diameter.

The edge inscription of ??225TH ANNIVERSARY?? will appear, incused, three times, once from each segment of the three-piece collar die. Single, raised vertical lines show where metal has flowed through the minute spaces between where the segments come together.

Design details

The approved obverse features a portrait facing left of Liberty rendered as an African-American woman, a departure from previous classic designs. Liberty’s hair is braided and secured in a bun at the back of her head. Her hair is adorned with a crown of five-pointed stars. Her gown is secured at the shoulders with brooches. The anniversary dates — 1792 and 2017 — appear in the field to the left and right of the portrait.

The obverse was designed by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Justin Kunz, whose initials, JK, appear in the field left of Liberty’s right shoulder. U.S. Mint Medallic Sculptor Phebe Hemphill sculptured Kunz’s design. Her initials, PH, appear in the field to the right of Liberty’s left shoulder. 

OPINION: Hobby still divided over American Liberty deisgns

The approved reverse for the coin depicts an eagle in flight with its wings in a downward thrust. The U.S. Mint describes the design as “a bold and powerful eagle in flight, with eyes toward opportunity and a determination to attain it.”

The design was created by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Chris T. Costello and sculptured by U.S. Mint Medallic Sculptor Michael Gaudioso. The initials of both artists appear in the design — Costellos’ CTC in the field below and right of the W Mint mark, and Gaudioso’s MG in the field above and to the right of the S in DOLLARS.

The designs, with the coin inscriptions removed, will also be used to produce four American Liberty 1-ounce .999 fine silver medals. One medal will be struck at each of the U.S. Mint’s four production facilities — West Point, San Francisco, Denver and Philadelphia — with each medal exhibiting a different finish. The silver medals will not exhibit the High Relief of the gold coin.

The medals are to be struck on 40.6-millimeter planchets, the same kind used for the American Eagle 1-ounce silver dollars.

Full-scale production of the 1792–2017-W American Liberty gold $100 coin is underway at the West Point Mint.

The coins are being struck with what U.S. Mint officials refer to as a “business strike” finish despite having Proof elements. The planchets, which are being supplied by Stern Leach, are burnished before striking.

The U.S. Mint provided the following details on finish execution.

??Obverse — Proof finish with a polished background. All letters, numbers, and artist initials have a heavy laser frosting. The effigy is has a standard laser frosting, with the exception of the stars and headband. The headband has a heavy laser frosting, and the stars have a Light laser frosting.

??Reverse — Proof finish with a polished background. All letters, numbers, and artist initials have a standard laser frosting. The effigy has a light laser frosting, with the exception of the head, tail, and talons, which all have a heavy laser frosting.

The U.S. Mint has not yet announced when it plans to offer the 2017 gold coin, at what price, and whether there will be product or household ordering limits.

For the 2015-W American Liberty gold $100 coin, when the Mint inaugurated sales July 30, 2015, the issue was restricted to 50,000 coins with no household ordering limits and priced at $1,490, with the spot price of gold just below $1,100 an ounce. Gold is currently trading at about $100 an ounce higher.

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