American Eagle Coins

The American Eagle Coin has been a part of numismatic history for decades. Available as bullion coins, these offer a stunning way for investors to add value to their portfolios. Uncirculated versions of American Eagle proof coins are also available for collectors intrigued by the historic and artistic designs featured on these products. Learn more about the history and design of the gold, silver and platinum American Eagle coins.

History of the American Eagle Coin

The American Eagle Bullion program and American Eagle Proof program began in 1986 with American Eagle gold and silver bullion and proof coins. Platinum American Eagle bullion and proof coins joined the program in 1997, making history as the first legal tender platinum pieces. The American Eagle Platinum Proof Coin has a $100 face value, which is the highest denomination of any U.S. legal tender coin. [1]

Design of the American Eagle Gold Coin

Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Liberty depiction serves as the obverse design for the American Eagle Gold Coin. This image first appeared on the $20 double eagle gold coin in 1907 and remained on this coin until 1933. [1] Saint-Gaudens is considered by many to be the greatest Beaux-Arts era American sculptor. His works include Central Park’s equestrian statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman and the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common. [3]

Saint-Gaudens’ involvement with American coinage was the direct result of Theodore Roosevelt’s interest in the U.S. Mint. In his autobiography, Roosevelt spoke of Saint-Gaudens’ work saying, ‘a great and permanent improvement was made in the beauty of coinage.’ [3]

Saint-Gaudens’ full-figure depiction of Lady Liberty shows her in a powerful stance with her foot raised on a rock. Her windswept hair blows to one side as she holds an olive branch in her left hand and a raised torch in her right. The Capitol Building sits in the background with powerful rays of sunshine behind.

The reverse of the American Eagle Gold Coin features a family of eagles designed by sculptor Miley Tucker-Frost in 1986. In the lower portion of the image, a female eagle sits on her nest with her wings around two eaglets. A male eagle flies above with an olive branch in his talons.Â

Tucker-Frost was inspired to create the image after listening to Ronald Reagan’s 1980 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Speaking of her design, she said, ‘I get such satisfaction from knowing that my Family of Eagles is making people aware of their own family values as Americans, and that the coins have become an ongoing part of our culture.’ [4]

Design of the American Eagle Silver Coin

The American Eagle Silver Coin features Adolph Weinman’s Walking Liberty design on the obverse. This image, originally designed for the half dollar coin in 1916, shows a full-length Lady Liberty striding forward with laurel and oak branches in her left hand while her right hand is outstretched.

Weinman was an apprentice to Saint-Gaudens, whose design graces the American Eagle Gold Coin. Weinman and Saint-Gaudens also worked together on the medal President Theodore Roosevelt received upon inauguration to his second presidential term in 1905.

The reverse of the coin features John Mercanti’s Heraldic Eagle of the United States, which shows the eagle grasping an olive branch in one talon and an arrow in the other. Thirteen stars for the original 13 colonies arch above the eagle’s head, and he holds a banner reading ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM.’

Design of the American Eagle Platinum Coin

The obverse of the American Eagle Platinum Coin features the Statue of Liberty’s face looking to the future, as designed by John Mercanti. Mercanti has designed and engraved more coins than any other engraver in the history of the U.S. Mint. [6]

The original reverse of the coin depicts a soaring bald eagle, as rendered by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr. From 1998 onward, this coin has featured a variety of rotating designs on the reserve which included: [1]

  • Vistas of Liberty
  • Foundations of Democracy
  • The Preamble to the Constitution
  • Torches of Liberty
  • Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

There is a limited mintage for this coin. [1]

2021 Updates to the American Eagle Coin

In 2021, the gold and silver American Eagle bullion coins will receive new reverse designs to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the program. In addition to an updated design, these coins will also feature enhanced security features. The U.S. Mint has submitted 39 designs for review. [9]

Value of American Eagle Coins

American Eagle coins with a proof finish are available for purchase directly from the U.S. Mint. Bullion coins must be purchased from a dealer. The American Eagle Gold bullion coin is available in 1-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and tenth-ounce sizes, while the silver and platinum bullion coins are only available in 1-ounce sizes. [1]

The pricing for precious metal numismatic products varies with the current cost for the underlying metal. The U.S. Mint uses a pricing range table to determine each product’s price a week before sale. If the weekly average price for that metal increased, the price of the numismatic product will also increase. If the weekly average price for the metal decreases, the price of the associated products will decrease as well. [2]

Of the three American Eagle Coins discussed here, silver is the most affordable due to industrial applications while gold and platinum remain premier forms. Interest in the gold and silver American Eagle coins may increase as 2021 approaches, since the upcoming design changes will give collectors the opportunity to complete a full set of 1986-2020 American Gold Eagle Reverse or American Silver Heraldic Eagle Reverse coins. Likewise, the new 2021 design offers the chance to begin a new set without the need to catch up on previous years.

If you’re interested in investing in bullion or building a beautiful coin collection, the American Eagle Gold, Silver and Platinum coins all offer intriguing options for consideration. With new designs on the horizon, this collection is one that investors and collectors alike will want to keep an eye on.


Article Sources

1. United States Mint. American Eagle Coin Program, https://www.usmint.gov/learn/coin-and-medal-programs/american-eagle. Accessed September 1, 2020.

2. United States Mint. Platinum Coins, https://catalog.usmint.gov/coins/precious-metal-coins/platinum/. Accessed September 1, 2020.

3. Gainesville Coins. Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Godfather of America’s Coin Renaissance, https://www.gainesvillecoins.com/blog/augustus-saint-gaudens-american-coin-renaissance. Accessed September 1, 2020.

4. U.S. Money Reserve. Who Designed the Gold American Eagle Coin?, https://www.usmoneyreserve.com/blog/who-designed-gold-american-eagle-coin/. Accessed September 1, 2020.

5. U.S. Money Reserve. Who is Adolph Weinman? Meet the Man Behind Walking Liberty, https://www.usmoneyreserve.com/blog/who-is-adolph-weinman/. Accessed September 1, 2020.

6. USA Coin Book. John M. Mercanti, https://www.usacoinbook.com/encyclopedia/coin-designers/john-m-mercanti. Accessed September 1, 2020.

7. CoinWeek. For the 35th Anniversary New Designs will Come to the Reverse of American Eagle Coins, https://coinweek.com/modern-coins/for-the-35th-anniversary-new-designs-will-come-to-the-reverse-of-american-eagle-coins/. Accessed September 1, 2020.

8. Coin World.New reverse designs for American Eagles undergo Commission of Fine Arts review, https://www.coinworld.com/news/precious-metals/new-reverse-designs-for-american-eagles-undergo-commission-of-fine-arts-review. Accessed September 1, 2020.

9. United States Mint. ‘CCAC Meeting Images,’ https://www.usmint.gov/news/ccac-meetings. Accessed September 1, 2020.