US Coins

Top 10 of 2016: American Liberty silver medal debuts

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 numismatic release.

The U.S. Mint offered just 12,500 medals each from the Proof production at the West Point Mint and San Francisco Mint.

Connect with Coin World:  

     Sign up for our free eNewsletter
     Like us on Facebook  
     Follow us on Twitter

The silver medal mintage was well below that set for the 2015 American Liberty gold $100 coin, which shared its design with the medals. 

Collector anticipation

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.

Design details

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 box
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 designs
1964 Morgan dollar tooling uncovered
American Liberty silver medal released
U.S. Mint plans yearlong 225th anniversary party

Community Comments