World War II – the most significant military conflict in history -- formally ended on September 2, 1945, when Japan announced its unconditional surrender to Allied forces led by the United States. Japan's surrender followed the May 8 surrender of Nazi Germany following the allied military victory against that country.
This November, the United States Mint will issue four special numismatic products to pay tribute to these historic events that changed the American nation and the world in countless ways. These issues also honor the bravery and sacrifice of the millions of service members and civilians from around the world who lost their lives during the conflict, including over 400,000 Americans killed in combat.
At home, millions of other Americans supported the war effort in ways other than direct combat. For example, women worked in support roles, and millions worked at the factories that produced materials needed for the war, like steel. The war effort was the greatest mobilization of an idle economy in history, which led to the creation of 17 million jobs and a massive increase in economic productivity.
Although Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, which sparked the start of the war, the United States did not get involved until the surprise attack on its forces by Japan at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, because before that, most Americans were reluctant to support U.S. military involvement. On December 8, the U.S. and Great Britain declared war on Germany, and two days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S.
The allies won the war through a combination of American military deployments led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and essential support from allied countries such as Great Britain and the Soviet Union. Fighting took place across Europe, Asia, and Africa and throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The war also forever changed America's role in the world by finally shedding its isolationist instincts and making the county realize that it had to be an active power. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were catapulted into being global superpowers, and the European map was re-drawn. The second World War also had numerous other effects on American society like the GI bill that enabled service members and veterans to receive education assistance.
On November 9 (Veterans' Day), a $25, 24 karat (.9999 fine) gold coin that weighs ¼ oz will be issued to honor the 75th anniversary of the end of the war and the many sacrifices of the Greatest Generations.
This original design with a modern style depicts an American eagle in flight with its head turned leftward as it grasps olive branches in its right talon with its wings spread, and its left-wing featured on the bottom portion of the design. The olive branches, as on many past U.S. coins, symbolize peace. The design is inspired by the 1945 Great Seal of the United States that changed the eagle's posture from looking towards the arrows of war as it did during World War II, to instead looking at the olive branches of peace.
There are inscriptions on this side include "1945" and "LIBERTY," along the left inner rim, "WORLD WAR II" above the eagle's wing just to the left of center, a "W" mintmark just to the left of the third inscription, and the initials of the designer and sculptor in between feathers of the eagle's wings.
The reverse of the new gold coin features rays of sun shining on olive branches. The sun resembles the sun rays depicted on the 1945 World War II Victory Medal, which was given to those who served in the armed forces from December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946. The medal was designed by Thomas H. Jones and was only approved in 1946 after initially being given as a ribbon.
The reverse has many inscriptions, including "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" along the top inner rim and below the sun rays "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "75TH ANNIVERSARY," "2020," "AU 24K ½ OZ" and "$25."
The new coin's obverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program artist Ronald Sanders and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. In contrast, the reverse was designed by AIP artist Donna Weaver and sculpted by Renata Gordon. Sanders previously designed seven other coins and medals for various U.S. Mint programs. Both Hemphill and Gordon are part of the Mint's permanent staff of medallic artists and have designed and sculpted many Mint coins.
The coin, which has a diameter of 27 millimeters and is struck in Proof, will have a mintage limited to 7,500 coins along with a household order limit of one coin.
An accompanying silver medal made of 1 oz of .9999 silver will be struck at the Philadelphia branch of the United States Mint. This release will have a mintage of 20,000 and a household order limit of just one.
The medal features the same design and inscriptions as the gold coin on its obverse. The reverse carries the same design but with only the description "75TH ANNIVERSARY" plus the initials of the artists who designed and sculpted the piece on each side of that inscription. The reverse uses a large amount of what is known as negative space, which indicates fields that do not have designs or inscriptions, which gives the design an elegant quality.
The gold coin and silver medal are housed in display boxes similar to those currently used for American Gold and Silver Eagles. The outer box features an olive branch's intricate design, and both come with certificates of authenticity.
The gold coin and silver medal are not part of the Mint's regular commemorative coin program that requires congressional approval. Instead, they are being issued under the Mint's existing legal authority to issue gold coins and silver medals.
In addition, on November 5, the United States Mint will release the first-ever American Eagle coins with privy marks on their obverses. Both Silver and Gold Eagles will have "V75" privy marks to note the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory. The mark is in the shape of the Rainbow Pool at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Both special anniversary products' mintages are very limited, with the silver mintage set at 75,000 and the gold at just 1,945 because the war ended in 1945. The Silver Eagle will instantly become a key coin with the 4th lowest mintage of the series to-date, after the 1995-W Proof, 2019-S Enhanced Reverse Proof and 2008-W with the reverse of 2007 coins. The gold will become the new king of that series with a lower mintage than any prior coin in the series.
The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II is a seminal event deserving of these special numismatic keepsakes. The four new products being issued for this occasion will be highly sought by collectors of modern U.S. coins and history lovers for years to come.
||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.|