Should the Design of the American Silver Eagle Be Changed?

For several years, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee has been recommending a design change for the American Silver Eagle. At a teleconference meeting held today, the group will discuss potential designs and likely make a formal recommendation for a new reverse design for the popular bullion and collector coin.

American Silver Eagle

The American Silver Eagle has carried the same design since its introduction in 1986. The obverse has featured Adolph A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty design, originally used for the circulating half dollar stuck from 1916 to 1947, depicting the full figure of Liberty walking confidently forward with one hand outstretched and the other carrying branches of laurel and oak. The reverse has featured a heraldic eagle designed by former United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti.

Since the design passed the 25-year mark in 2011, a potential redesign has been brought up at several CCAC meetings. A recommendation for a redesign has also been offered within the group’s annual reports.

By law, the design for the American Silver Eagle is required to carry a design “symbolic of Liberty” on the obverse and “of an eagle” on the reverse. The Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to change the design of a coin as long as the existing design has been in use for at least 25 years. In recent history, the Secretary has typically deferred to Congress with regards to changes in coin design.

Ahead of today’s meeting, members of the CCAC were provided with previously prepared unused coin designs which feature an eagle. From a total of 44 designs, the field was narrowed to a list of 16 designs for discussion. These designs had originally been prepared for the Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medals, the 2008 Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Program, the new Lincoln Cent reverse, and the 2015 US Marshals Service Commemorative Coin Program.

Images of the culled list of 16 potential designs for the reverse of the American Silver Eagle are included below. I also thought it would be interesting to include a poll to gauge the opinion of Mint News Blog readers.

What do readers think? Should the Silver Eagle reverse design be changed? What are your favorite designs from the candidates below?

Update: Detailed coverage of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee’s discussion of the potential reverse design can be found on Coin Update. The CCAC recommended design 41 with a motion to give the Mint a free hand to present options with variations of the design elements.

Eagle_01 Eagle_10 Eagle_16 Eagle_18 Eagle_19 Eagle_22 Eagle_23 Eagle_24 Eagle_25 Eagle_30 Eagle_36 Eagle_38 Eagle_39 Eagle_40 Eagle_41 Eagle_44

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  1. billrod says

    If you want a truly great classical eagle design go back to the Gobrecht Flying Eagle dollars (1836-1839) or the Flying Eagle cent (1856-1858) or the Peace Dollar Eagle (1921-1935). Our current artists have shown they are incapable of producing worthy designs.

  2. billrod says

    I don’t like this new format and I especially don’t like the fact that it is not very “eye friendly” for us old-timers. There is not enough contrast between the text and the bluebackground and after a while it is almost impossible to read all the comments. After a while everything just becomes washed out and one big blur. The font size should be increased a notch or two also. If it were up to me I would return to the previous format.

  3. CW says

    Could we put the font choice up to a vote? I cannot read this website anymore, which is sad since I love it.

  4. POP says

    I am in favor of change – but – not to something that is worse than what already exists. IMO Mercanti’s reverse is far better than any of those proposed. And I favor a change for the reverse of the A/E gold coin – how about the original St Gaudens reverse. A family of eagles is just too much for something as small as a coin.

  5. Robert Bateman says

    Yes, change that design time is overdue. I second the motion for the Gobrecht Eagle on the reverse, and the Draped Bust Liberty on the front. This was George Washinton’s appointment of Robert Scot’s (first US Chief Engraver) first successful design, and was feautured on all us coins for 10 years. This Young Lady Liberty is the only woman ever to grace a US coin that was genuinely good looking. Funny thing about this design: As the coins wore, she got prettier and her smile softer, reaching it’s apex at Fine condition. This I attribute to the high cheekbones being worn off and lips shallower. Bring her back!

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