Learn more about the value and history of these beautiful coins.
Featuring the same motif on both front and back as the American Eagle Gold Coin, the silver eagle nonetheless has unique, beautiful designs of its own. The coin is so striking and valuable (not just because of its silver content, but also because of its American mintage) that it is the best-selling bullion coin in the world. Since 2008, the coin has broken sales records six times.
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President Ronald Reagan signed the Liberty Coin Act into law on July 9, 1985. The act originally considered only a Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island commemorative coin, but an amendment provided for the minting of American Eagle silver coins. Production began the following year, and continues to this day.
John Mercanti, who would later become the U.S. Mint’s 12th Chief Engraver, designed the obverse and reverse designs. For the obverse, he took Adolph Weinman’s Walking Liberty design—minted on Walking Liberty half dollars for over 30 years—and upgraded it with greater detail. The word “LIBERTY” is written in an arc at the top of the coin, the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” are included to the right of the figure, and the year of mintage is struck at the bottom.
Mercanti’s design for the reverse is an eagle standing with wings outstretched. In front of the eagle is a shield design drawn from the Great Seal of the U.S. The design is commonly referred to as the heraldic eagle. The eagle has arrows in one set of talons and an olive branch in the other. It has a banner in its beak that reads, “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” There are 13 stars above the eagle’s head, the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” on the upper arc of the coin and “1 OZ. FINE SILVER~ONE DOLLAR” on the lower arc.
In the latter half of 2021, the mint began using a new design by Emily Damstra on the reverse. Her design features an eagle landing on a branch, and manifests extraordinary detail and realism. The same wording is arced around the periphery of the coin as before, only skewed a bit to accommodate the eagle’s left wing. The words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” form a smaller, inner arc on the right side of the coin.
Design Updates: As mentioned above, the original Mercanti design was replaced by Emily Damstra’s design in the latter half of 2021.
The silver dollar has been America’s basic unit of currency for much of the nation’s existence, and this modern version has been a hit from the start. Though of course it’s worth much more than a dollar, that fact has only enhanced its popularity. It won’t score points for rarity, but if you need a coin that is widely recognized, valued, and exchanged for goods, services, or other currencies, this is the one.
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