American Platinum Eagle coins, which celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2017 with a special proof coin, have always been issued in two formats since their debut in 1997. There are bullion pieces aimed primarily at those interested in diversifying their precious metal portfolios with the other white metal, and beautiful proof coins designed for numismatic collectors, which sell for a premium over their metal value. The proof coins of this series have always been especially appreciated for their low mintage, which include some of the lowest of any American Eagle coin, and their changing reverse designs.
Until the debut of the current series called “Preamble to the Declaration of Independence,” which started in 2018, the platinum coins always had a common obverse featuring a close-up profile of the Statue of Liberty designed by John Mercanti, and changing reverse designs on various themes, usually related to some aspect American democracy. The 2018-2020 series changed that to coins with a common reverse and different obverses for each one.
The concept of the new three-coin series, which is executed through the different obverse designs created by artist Justin Kunz, is to show concrete representations of the themes of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which are delineated in the Declaration of Independence’s preamble. The 2018 coin showed Liberty planting seeds to be used for future sustenance of the nation, while the 2019 coin will show her lighting and guiding the way westward, and the final coin for 2020 will depict her harvesting the crops.
Each coin is struck from one troy ounce of .9995 platinum, has a diameter of 1.287 inches (32.70 millimeters), and was struck at the West Point Mint. The Mint has not announced mintage limits, and the 2018 coin was limited to 20,000 coins.
As this is the first time one artist has designed all three obverses for a series, the coins have a common artistic style which helps to convey the narrative of the series. The coins also feature something else that is different. Each one has the key word of the theme inscribed in handwriting similar to that used on the Declaration of Independence.
This side was designed by Patricia Lucas-Morris and was sculpted by Don Everhart. Everhart, who designed many coins for the U.S. Mint during his career, such as the 2016 National Parks Centennial $5 gold coin, retired from the mint last year as its most senior sculptor-engraver at the time. Ms. Lucas-Morris is a member of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program who has also painted extensively with a collection of her work at the Boston Public Library and who has also illustrated children’s books and other projects and worked for the Art Metallic Company and Northwest Territorial Mint.
The 2019 proof issue features an obverse design that will only be used on that coin which depicts the theme of “Liberty” – one of the most fundamental American values and ideas.
The design shows an image of a standing Lady Liberty. She keeps watch over the prairies, lakes, and mountains that American pioneers traversed in horse-drawn, canvas-covered wagons as they head out to their destinations in the western states.
In the background is the wild terrain that they often encountered, which evokes the “quintessential American spirit to explore new territory and the freedom to pursue new landscapes, news ideas, and new ways of life,” according to the U.S. Mint. For founding father Thomas Jefferson westward expansion was essential to the health and the survival of the nation because of the connection between an independent citizenry and land ownership, especially of small farms, according to www.history.com.
Lady Liberty is shown wearing a wreath crown (a symbol of victory and honor) while she holds a flaming torch in her right hand and an open book in her left hand. The torch is an emblem of the guiding light that liberty provides, while the book is intended to represent the concept of the rule of law, which is designed to be applied equally to all Americans according to our founding documents. The obverse has inscriptions for “E PLURIBUS UNUM” along the top inner border as well as “2019” to the right of Liberty and “IN GOD WE TRUST” to her left plus “LIBERTY” in cursive handwriting above the motto shown the way it appears in the Declaration of Independence.
This stunning design -- the latest rendition of the iconic Liberty symbol that has graced most U.S. coins issued since the Mint was founded in 1792 – is the work of Justin Kunz and was sculpted by Joseph Menna.
Mr. Kunz is an accomplished painter whose work has been displayed around the country and has received many awards. He also teaches in the Department of Visual Arts at Brigham Young University in Utah. He is probably best known in terms of the coins and medals he has designed for the U.S. Mint for the 2017-W American Liberty High Relief Gold coin and silver medal. His most recent design was the obverse for the 2018 American Innovation dollar, which the Mint released in mid-December.
Mr. Menna is one of the Mint’s four sculptor-engravers who play a key role in the development of coin programs at the Mint. In particular, he was the first digitally-skilled artist hired full time by the Mint and played a key role in the use of digital techniques for coin design and production. He has a long list of design credits for the Mint in many different programs, including the reverse designs for the Marine Corp. and Air Service World War I Centennial medals.