The U.S. Mint is launching a new series of 1 oz-silver uncirculated medals featuring every U.S. President, which will begin with medals for the first two, George Washington and John Adams.
These classic American medals feature the same right-facing profiles of the Presidents on their obverses that have appeared on the long-running series of bronze Presidential medals except that they are for the first time being struck in pure silver (.999 fine) and in the same size as the 40.6-millimeter planchets used for American Silver Eagles.
The reverse of each medal will carries a design that is inspired by the Jefferson Indian Peace medals first issued in 1801 and given to Native American tribal leaders to build alliances and negotiate with them.
The medals have a plain, rather than reeded edge, a diameter of 1.598 inches and weight of 31.103 grams and have no mintmarks, although they are being produced at the Philadelphia Mint.
Four different medals will be released each year starting in 2019 until each of the Presidents have been represented.
Like the bronze ones, the new medals will be produced indefinitely with no ordering limits, mintages or other restrictions. They are sold by the Mint in boxes that are just like those used for their commemorative coin programs.
The new series was announced on January 16 during a CCAC meeting by the Mint’s Ann Bailey, a program manager. At that time the Mint had planned to issue the medals in Proof, but since then they decided to instead issue them with an uncirculated matte finish, most likely to reduce the cost of the pieces.
The Presidential medal series has its origins in the Jefferson Indian peace medals “ produced as souvenirs for tribal leaders, following the tradition of similar pieces by European powers with colonies in the Western Hemisphere,” according to Coin World editor William Gibbs. Those medals featured portraits of the sitting U.S. president of the time, William Jefferson, on their obverses while the reverses had images intended to promote peaceful relations between the government and native inhabitants.
The Lewis and Clark expedition carried Thomas Jefferson’s peace medal in three different sizes, as well as medals from George Washington’s second term.
Production of peace medals was not an original function of the Mint, so their production was contracted out – often to Mint employees using Mint equipment after hours. Starting with Rutherford B. Hayes, the Mint took over medal production and the Peace Medals series transitioned to the Presidential Medals series. The Peace Medals series continued for four more presidents, ending with Benjamin Harrison. By that time, the primary function of the medals as symbols of peace and allegiance had waned.
Presidential medals have long been an important way for the Mint’s best artists and engravers to showcase their talents with classic American numismatic art. The medals were especially significant prior to 1892 when the first commemorative coins were issued. Mint designers often tried out certain design motifs on medals, which were then used on coins, since they had more freedom when designing medals than coins that usually come with specific legal requirements.
Probably the most famous example of that is the John F. Kennedy half dollar obverse, which is a slightly modified version of the 1961 Presidential medal Gilroy Roberts prepared of President Kennedy. Many other medals in the series were prepared by some of the most celebrated Mint artists like Charles Barber and John R. Sinnock.
These new silver medals are a great way to add silver to your portfolio while celebrating the 45 men who have served as President of the United States since 1789. They also make great gifts to collectors and non-collectors.
George Washington, commander of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War and first President of the United States, is credited with leading the completion and signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. He is consistently rated as one of the most popular presidents who played a key role in shaping the early history of the nation. He lived from 1732 to 1799 and served as President from 1789 to 1797.
The obverse of this medal features a portrait of George Washington with the inscriptions “GEORGE WASHINGTON PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” and “1789” centered along the border of the medal.
The reverse of the medal features the inscription “PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP,” symbolized by two hands clasped in token of amity. On the cuff of the left wrist are three stripes with buttons, each button carrying the American eagle; the other wrist is bare. Above the hands, the pipe of peace and the tomahawk are crossed over each other.
The design is the same as that on Jefferson’s Indian peace medals except that the two hands are reversed.
After serving as the first Vice President, John Adams was elected to succeed George Washington and became the second President of the United States, serving from 1797 to 1801 after serving as a diplomat and in other roles. Adams lived from 1735 to 1826.
The obverse of the medal features a portrait of John Adams with the inscriptions “JOHN ADAMS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” and “A.D. 1797” alongside the border of the medal. The reverse of the Adams medal will be the same as that on the Washington medal and for the rest of the pieces in the series.
The Mint is releasing the Washington and Adams medals starting on August 16 and will make them available indefinitely. Order yours from ModernCoinMart shortly after!