US Coins

American Eagle obverses receive updates for 2021

Proof 2021 American Eagle gold and silver coins with the reverses of 2021 clearly differ from those with the 1986 introductory reverses, but the differences don’t end with the reverse. The obverses differ as well, fulfilling what Mint officials said earlier would be a refresh of each design, and the edge is also involved.

Side-by-side comparison of an image of an obverse of a 2021 American Eagle Reverse of 1986 gold coin with an obverse image of one of the soon to be issued Reverse of 2021 coins illustrates the differences.

One prominent revision for the Reverse of 2021 gold coins is a notch on the edge, at the 6 o’clock position, sculpted into the collar die as an anti-counterfeiting device. The notch interrupts the edge reeding.

The notch will also appear on the American Eagle Reverse of 2021 silver issues.

Because of the changes, some collectors are speculating whether mule error coins could be struck, mis-pairing some of the year’s obverse and reverse dies.

Gold American Eagle

On the obverse for the American Eagle, Reverse of 2021 gold coins, the six-pointed stars encircling the border number 46, differing from the 50 of the 1986 design; 46 stars appeared on the Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle when introduced in 1907, whose design was modified for use on the gold American Eagles in 1986. The number of stars was increased to 48 in 1912, recognizing the addition of two new states to the union.

Other differences are easily observed between the obverses for the Reverse of 2021 gold coins and the Reverse of 1986 gold coins:
➤ Liberty’s nose is more defined, rather than looking like a loser from a pugilistic bout.
➤ The letters in LIBERTY are more closely spaced.
➤ The end of the branch in Liberty’s left hand is closer to the end of the ninth sun ray, and the branch is thicker. The number of leaves and their positions on the branch differ.
➤ The date digits are moved slightly right.
➤ Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ designer’s initials monogram is moved, up and right, on the second ray, so not to touch the oak leaves.
➤ 14 sun rays instead of 13 are to Liberty’s right (viewer’s left). Rays to her left are longer.
➤ The stars touching the Capitol are shifted.
➤ The folds and texture of Liberty’s gown differ.
➤ The W Mint mark is slightly thinner.
➤ Liberty’s right foot and sandal are much less noticeable.

Silver modifications

Revisions were also made to refresh sculptor Adolph A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar obverse design that was adapted for use on the silver American Eagle dollars introduced in 1986.

Differences in the obverse on the Reverse of 2021 coins versus that of the Reverse of 1986 issues include:
➤ Weinman’s designer’s monogram is added to the right field, below IN GOD / WE TRUST. The letters in the motto are thicker and the U does not have a descending tail. IN GOD is closer to WE TRUST below.
➤ The letters in LIBERTY have small serifs and the L tilts more to the left.
➤ The palm and finger joints of Liberty’s right hand are less defined.
➤ Liberty’s trailing, sandaled right foot is further from the rim, and the sandal is less defined.
➤ The mountains from which the sun rises are smoothed out.
➤ The toes and sandal on Liberty’s left foot are not as defined.
➤ Liberty’s hair is not as defined.
➤ The folds in Liberty’s gown are flattened.
➤ The date is larger, with the digits in 2021 from a different font.

The U.S. Mint did not provide responses to Coin World’s questions about the design modifications. Observations of the differences were made by Coin World staff members.

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