When Congress authorized the first U.S. coinage in the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, it decreed that: “Upon one side of each of the said coins there shall be an impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word Liberty.” For more than 100 years thereafter, the obverse of almost every coin struck at the U.S. Mint featured an image of Lady Liberty.
It was not until the 20th century that Liberty was no longer the dominant image on coins. Starting with the Lincoln Penny in 1909 and ending with the Eisenhower Dollar in 1971, Liberty was replaced with images of Presidents and other prominent Americans on all circulating coins. In theory, the portraits still represented the concept of “liberty” – but they no longer actually showed representations of the allegorical figure of Liberty.
As a result, no U.S. coins currently in circulation portray Liberty. There are, however, several other U.S. coins that do feature the image of Liberty. The Silver Eagle, Gold Eagle, and Platinum Eagle bullion coins all feature Liberty on the obverse – with the first two using images that first appeared on circulating coins in the early 20th century.
In an effort to bring back “Liberty,” the U.S. Mint in 2015 issued the exceptional American Liberty $100 gold coin. Struck with one ounce of 99.99% pure gold, it depicted Liberty carrying both the torch of freedom and the American flag, while the reverse was an American eagle rising in flight.
American Liberty 2016 Silver Medal
When the U.S. Mint issued the American Liberty gold coin in 2015, it also planned to issue the same design in silver. That plan, however, never materialized.
Now, in 2016, the U.S. Mint is finally releasing the American Liberty Silver Medal. It is being issued on Tuesday, August 23. Struck with an identical design as the 2015 gold coin, it is made with the same silver planchets as the American Eagle Silver Dollar. Each medal, therefore, contains one ounce of 99.9% pure silver and is a large 40.6 mm in diameter.
The design symbolizes America’s numismatic heritage. It evokes memories of classic coins such as the Walking Liberty Half Dollar and Standing Liberty Quarter, as well as the $10 and $20 gold coins produced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the early 1900’s.
Unlike the 2015 gold coin, though, the 2016 silver medal does not bear a denomination. It is a strictly limited edition of only 12,500, and all medals are struck at the West Point mint with the “W” mint mark on the reverse. It is destined to be popular with collectors, but the extremely limited mintage almost assures a quick sell-out.