The American Gold Eagle Proof is the quintessential collectible gold coin issued by the United States. The Mint historically strikes this coin in four sizes, sold individually, and sold as a set. The sizes include 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz. and 1/10 oz. The proofs feature the sought after “W” mint mark as they are struck at the West Point U.S. Mint branch. Each coin contains the specified amount of gold bullion and is guaranteed by the Mint. The series is struck on 91.67% pure gold blanks that receive special preparation, along with their corresponding proof dies prior to striking.
The first issued 2021 American Gold Eagles will be among the last issues to feature this iconic, original reverse design. Mid-year, the Mint will retire the original reverse of the American Gold Eagle series and will issue coins for the rest of the year featuring the updated reverse.
The historic significance of the original AGE designs cannot be underestimated. The obverse was originally designed by the father of the Beaux Artes Movement in the United States, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The obverse of the series makes use of the popular full-length Liberty design from the circulating $20 U.S. “Double Eagle” gold coin that was struck from 1907 until 1933. Liberty is shown striding forward with confidence, her hair and gown flowing in the wind. She triumphantly shows the Torch of Enlightenment blazing overhead and an olive branch of Peace at her side.
The original reverse design depicts a “Family of Eagles” with a nesting pair of Bald Eagles and their young. The male is shown returning to the nest, his wings almost embracing his family as the dynamic and powerful eagle is coming to rest. Artist Miley Tucker-Frost (then working under the surname Busiek) created a design, which has graced the reverse since 1986.
The proof-struck American Gold Eagle coin series is achieved by specialty handling. The planchets, or coin blanks, are polished to remove imperfection prior to the minting process. Similarly, the dies used to strike the image onto the blanks receives special treatment and polishing as well. In the finest examples of this art form, the raised design devices will receive a frosty appearance. The fields of the coins, that is the negative space in the design, remain flat and have a highly reflective, mirror-like surface. The difference between the two distinct elements of the coin, when highly contrasting, will earn the coveted Ultra Cameo designation on the finest graded examples. Proof coins exhibit the finest finish in the field of numismatics and are highly prized by collectors. Also, collectors should note that the proof version of the AGE coins typically feature significantly lower mintages than their bullion cousins.
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