The U.S. Mint’s plans for 2018 included several interesting and anticipated new releases such as the World War I Centennial Silver Dollar and silver medals for each branch of the military and the 2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin.
In addition, a new, three-coin American Platinum Eagle Proof coin series debuted on January 25 called “Preamble to the Declaration of Independence” that will feature one coin per year through 2020.
MCM General Manager Andrew Salzberg has said in interviews with numismatic publications that he considers this series to be undervalued. In an October 17 article in CoinWeek he said: “For me personally, as a collector, I love the eye-appeal of platinum coins,” Salzberg notes. The metal itself is absolutely gorgeous, and I value the fact that there is a use for the metal within the engineering field,” he remarks, noting that platinum has a variety of industrial applications, including medical, electrical, and automotive, among others. “Also, the mintages of platinum coins are typically very low and the designs are strong. In my opinion, Platinum Eagles don’t get the attention they deserve from the collector base, and if you follow that train of thought, they could potentially be undervalued.”
The three new Platinum proof coins were authorized by Public Law 104-208 and like other coins of this type are made of .9995 fine platinum and carry a face value of $100. They will focus on the theme of the three core precepts of American democracy that are laid out in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This theme is in keeping with past series of this type issued between 1997 and 2017 that have focused on other elements of the democratic foundations of the U.S., including Vistas of Liberty, Foundations of Democracy, The Preamble to the Constitution, and Torches of Liberty.
However, the new series is different from the previous one in several ways.
First, each coin will feature a new and modern image of Liberty on its obverse and will be the first Platinum Eagles that do not use the John Mercanti-designed profile of the Statue of Liberty that has appeared on bullion and proof coins since 1997.
Each of the three new obverses was designed by Justin Kunz, a U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist, who has designed many previous coins and medals for the Mint, including most notably the obverses of the 2015 American Liberty High Relief gold coin and silver medal and the 2017 American Liberty High Relief gold coin , which were the first U.S. coins ever issued that featured a modern depiction of the iconic American allegorical symbol, Lady Liberty.
Mr. Kunz is a painter, concept artist, illustrator, and teacher, who was trained in art at the Laguna College of Art and Brigham Young University, where he studied with well-known figurative artists such as Jeremy Lipking and John Nava.
The obverse he designed for the 2018 coin, which was sculpted by Phoebe Hemphill, sculptor-engraver for the Mint, depicts the theme of “life” as personified by Lady Liberty, who is shown holding a small child she is teaching to sow seeds for future sustenance.
In addition, according to the Mint, “the furrowed earth represents the forethought and labor required to sustain life, while a tree and stream are shown that represent nature, suggesting the need to be good stewards of an environment that sustains life.”
There are the usual inscriptions that appear on all U.S. Mint coins as well as one for the theme of the coin, “LIFE,” written in handwriting of the style that appears in the Declaration of Independence.
The common reverse for the new series shows an eagle in flight with its wings spread and carrying an olive branch in its talons, another iconic American symbol that has appeared in other versions on many previous U.S. coins and that conveys the dual theme of our desire for peace and our preparation to defend ourselves.
This side was designed by Patricia Morris, also of the AIP program, and sculpted by Don Everhart, a prolific Mint sculptor-engraver, who worked on numerous coins for the Mint before retiring earlier this year.
The 2019 coin for this series features an obverse with Lady Liberty holding the flaming torch and wearing a wreath crown (which is similar to how she appears on the 2015 High-Relief gold coin and silver medal except that there she has an American flag in one hand) and holding an open book in her other hand with mountains and pioneers heading out West in the lower background.
The torch represents the guiding light liberty provides, while the book represents the rule of law and its equal application. According to the Mint, “The wild terrain featured in the background evokes the quintessential American spirit to explore new territory and the freedom to pursue new landscapes, news ideas, and new ways of life.”
This side was sculpted by Joseph F. Menna and features the inscription, “LIBERTY,” in cursive handwriting in addition to the standard inscriptions.
The final coin, which will be issued in 2020, features an obverse on the theme of happiness and was sculpted by Michael Gaudioso.
Lady Liberty is shown as she harvests the fruits of her labor while a young girl plays nearby. She is shown holding an overflowing cornucopia that is “a symbol of the physical, intellectual, and spiritual bounty that only liberty makes possible -- the good things that nourish the body, enliven the mind, and satisfy the soul.” In the background are a home, an orchard, and a silo that represent “American hopes, values, and aspirations.” This image brings to a close the narrative told with the various backgrounds of the series. The stubble field “alludes to the ingenuity and exertion required to claim liberty’s promise.”
And the inscription, “HAPPINESS,” appears once again in cursive handwriting as on the 2018 and 2020 coins.
The use of the same artist on the obverse of each of these coins, which enables the images of Lady Liberty to appear in the same artistic style, and the narrative theme that is continued from one coin to the next, is an interesting and inspiring concept in U.S. coin design that collectors should find very appealing.
Mintages and any household limits will be announced in January, probably just before the release.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|