During 2017 the U.S. Mint will be celebrating it's 225th anniversary, on January 12th the Department of the Treasury, in Washington DC, hosted a special media event and unveiling. Using the tagline “Remembering our past, and embracing our future”, the briefing officially launched what the Mint is describing as a special year long series of events in celebration of their 225th anniversary celebrations.
The press event may have launched the 225th anniversary celebrations but the focus was squarely on the unveiling of the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin. Mint Chief of Staff Elisa Basnight led the event and had the following comments on the new coin
“It proudly represents our nation. It's past, it's present and it's future. What this coin symbolises for me personally ... is the evolution of Liberty. Liberty is a representation of how anything is possible. Lady Liberty, as depicted on coinage throughout the years, is modelled on our societies continued evolution. As we as a nation continue to evolve, so does Liberty's representation.”
Also present was United States Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson who added some historical perspective to the celebrations.
"We are very proud of the fact that the United States Mint is rooted in the Constitution ... Our founding fathers realized the critical need for our fledgling nation to have a respected monetary system, and over the last 225 years, the Mint has never failed in its mission."
The obverse of the coin depicts an allegorical image of lady liberty that was heavily inspired by the Statue of Freedom that stands atop the dome of the US Capitol building. The bust of a youthful liberty wears a crown comprised of large five pointed stars, facing left. The obverse legend reads : "LIBERTY" and "IN GOD WE TRUST” To the top and bottom of the coin along the rim. The dates of "1792" and "2017" appear at either end of the profile portrait , indicating the 225th anniversary. The design is completed by the initial “JK” and “PH” which stand for Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Justin Kunz and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill who were responsible for the design.
This is not the first time that the Statue of Freedom has been the inspiration for a coin. The 1989 Congressional Bicentennial commemorative coins also featured this image on the half dollar and silver one dollar designs.
The reverse in turn features a bold and powerful eagle in flight, with it's eyes toward opportunity and a determination to attain it. The bird is in full flight with it's wings spread, facing towards the viewer's right. The majority of the obligatory inscription were reserved for this side of the coin and read : "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA", "E PLURIBUS UNUM", "1OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD" and "100 DOLLARS." These incriptiona are further joined by the initials “CTC” and “MG” for AIP Designer Chris Costello and Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso. Finally the “W” mintmark appears to the bottom left indicating the coins origin from the West Point minting facility.
As indicated above, the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin will be a high relief design coin struck from 1oz of .9999 Fineness(24-karat) gold. The coin has a planned release date of April 6th 2017.
In addition to the high relief design, which features sharper details and more dramatic contrasts there is also a final design element to be noted. This is the addition of raised edge-lettering. The edge inscription reads : “225th ANNIVERSARY” and is bookended by five pointed stars at either end.
In addition to the gold $100 coin there will also be a silver medal of the same design released later in the year, similar to what was done with the 2016 design as well.
In a subsequent press release the United States Mint revealed that the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin is the first in a new biennially released series of 24-karat gold coins that will feature similar designs. These coins will depict an allegorical image of Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms - including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others-to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States.
The coin has met with mixed responses from the numismatic community. These range from praise and excitement to disappointment and indifference to outright anger over the chosen design.
The mainstream press however have widely reported on the new coin, choosing to focus their attention on the fact that Lady Liberty is for the first time depicted as an African-American woman on a US coin. Of course this is not the first time a black women has appeared on a coin from the US Mint, the 1994 Women in the Military silver dollar coin comes to mind, but hey – why let facts get in the way of a good story right? Granted this is the first time that Liberty herself, the enduring symbol of Americas promise and potential, is depicted as such. It will be interesting to note if the rest of the series will receive similar attention in the years to come.
The United States Mint has released the following video to highlight the remakable technological advancements that are used to produce this high relief gold coin.