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In July of 1985, the Liberty Coin Act was signed into law. This Act specified the legal requirements for the American Silver Eagle, including the size, weight, metal content, purity, design, inscriptions and legal tender. Once the specifications were determined and production began, the American Silver Eagle series officially began in 1986. The Silver Eagle was available in Uncirculated (Mint State) and Proof finishes. The American Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States and one of the most commonly collected coins around the world.
The Liberty Coin Act instructs that the obverse of each coin must feature a design that is "symbolic of Liberty..." The final design that was selected is a rendition of Adolph A Weinman's original Walking Liberty design, which was used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollars from their time in circulation from 1916-1947. Weinman (1870-1952) was a German-born sculptor who immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. Weinman's design is appropriately named "Walking Liberty," as the design features Liberty mid-stride on the horizon. Outside of numismatics, Weinman created many sculptures, such as the General Alexander Macomb Memorial in Detroit and the Seated Lincoln for Hodgenville, Kentucky.
The reverse, according to the Liberty Coin Act of 1985, dictates that the reverse must bear an image of an eagle, as is common on US coinage. The final design was created by John M. Mercanti, American sculptor and engraver. In 1991, Elizabeth jones retired from her position as Chief Engraver at the US Mint. After a 15-year gap, Mercanti was chosen to fill the position and become the 12th Chief Engraver of the US Mint. Mercanti has created for numismatic designs than any other employee of the US Mint. With only the limitation of featuring an eagle, Mercanti practically had a blank page for his creation. Mercanti chose to include many patriotic themes in his design, including the phrase "E Pluribus Unum," olive branches, arrows, etc.