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Michael Gaudioso: The New American Silver Eagle Reverse Sculptor

Michael Gaudioso: The New American Silver Eagle Reverse Sculptor
Category: Articles
Author Name: ModernCoinMart (MCM)
Posted: 04-13-2021
Last Updated:
09-02-2021

Recently retiring from the U.S. Mint towards the end of 2020, Michael Gaudioso crafted numerous designs himself and from other United States Mint artists. Most notably, Michael Gaudioso is responsible for sculpting Emily Damstra’s new Type 2 Silver Eagle reverse design of 2021.

Coin designs are more than just drawings. They express the values, aspirations, and shared heritage of the United States as a nation, making artists an essential part of the U.S Mint. Both coin designers and sculptor-engravers help secure the United State’s essence and story, and play a critical role in coin development as each artist creates and submits designs for consideration to be sculpted on the models required to produce these iconic coins and medals.

Michael Gaudioso worked for over a decade in the U.S. Mint as a Medallic Artist, Sculptor, and Engraver. Graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and the New York Academy Graduate School of Figurative Art in New York City, Michael then studied in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the highly regarded Repin Institute. As a master painter and designer for the prestigious Willet Hauser stained glass studio, Gaudioso is a well-versed artist and has shared those skills as a figure-drawing teacher at Villanova University.

Michael Gaudioso

Profile image of coin artist Michael Gaudioso

Recently retiring from the U.S. Mint towards the end of 2020, Michael Gaudioso crafted numerous designs himself and from other United States Mint artists. Most notably, Michael Gaudioso is responsible for sculpting Emily Damstra’s new Type 2 Silver Eagle reverse design of 2021. The unique reverse marks the first time in the Silver Eagle series in over 30 years of issue that the United States Mint has authorized a significant design change, making it one of the final appearances of Mr. Gaudioso’s work for the United States Mint.. The design debuted mid-2021.

Michael Gaudioso Design and Sculpting Credits

  • 2018 Native American $1 Coin – reverse
  • 2015 Presidential $1 Coins – Lyndon B. Johnson obverse
  • 2014 Presidential $1 Coins – Warren G. Harding obverse
  • 2011 First Spouse Gold Coin and Medal Program – Lucretia Garfield reverse
  • 2011 Montford Point Marines Congressional Gold Medal – obverse
  • 2008 Code Talkers Recognition Congressional Medals Program – Ho-Chunk Nation obverse
  • 2008 Code Talkers Recognition Congressional Medals Program – Oglala Sioux Tribe obverse

 U.S. Mint Sculptors

Traditionally, artists from the Artist Infusion Program (AIP) and U.S. Mint submit their designs after carefully researching a coin’s subject. In rare situations, legislation has called for a public competition to choose a design submitted by a member of the public. One instance of this was a competition that decided the World War I Centennial Silver Dollar Coin designs.

Because of the strict requirements and pride to ensure a memorable coin or medal, each design goes through multiple rounds of internal revisions. After the artists submit their designs, they are then reviewed by the U.S. Mint to ensure that the designs meet legal requirements, follow copyright laws, and use correct symbols before the Mint’s chief engraver provides their feedback for artistic improvements. A “coinability” check is then conducted, a quality assurance analysis that looks for a feature or part of the design that wouldn’t strike well, such as letters that are too small or too close together.

Once a design is approved and finalized, a Mint medallic artist turns the line drawing into an actual three-dimensional sculpt. The engraving department provides the artist with an initial model made of plasticine modeling clay, with inscriptions and common design elements engraved into the coin or medal. Each artist chooses the media they feel best suits the design. Traditionally artists have used clay and plaster, but now with the advantages of today's technology yield, artists combine this traditional method with digital software to sculpt the coin or medal model.

Redesigning the American Silver Eagle

In 1986 the U.S. Mint launched the American Eagle Coin Program. Available in bullion, proof, and uncirculated coins, the program since then has expanded in 1997 to include platinum. And in 2017, the first American Eagle Palladium Coins were released as bullion with palladium proofs in 2018.

American Silver Eagle Coins are considered among the most beautiful silver coins in the world and are met with overwhelming demand each year. Since 1986, all designs have been geared to both investors and collectors alike. With U.S. Silver Eagle Coins being the first official silver bullion coin of the United States Mint, they have become one of the most collected silver dollar series. Today's aggressive market has made some back-dated issues of U.S. Silver Eagles difficult to accumulate.

The 2021 American Silver Eagle New Type 2 Reverse

Reverse design for the 2021 American Silver Eagle New Type 2

Thirty-five years after the first American Eagle Silver Coins in 1986, 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the debut of the memorable  American Eagle Coin Program. As Michael Gaudioso retired from the United States Mint in the fall of 2020, one of his final sculptor-engraver credits will be this iconic refresh of the U.S. Mint’s most popular series.

The new reverse used on the American Silver Eagle coin has moved from the bald eagle holding arrows and an olive branch and now depicts the iconic American bird landing on an oak branch. Inscribed with the terms “United States of America, “E Pluribus Unum,” “One Dollar,” and “1 oz. Fine Silver” encircling the image, this piece of history has a weight and purity of 99.9% pure silver guaranteed by the United States Government and is sure to be a competitive find for both collectors and stackers.

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