Emily Damstra: The New Silver Eagle Reverse Designer

The Silver Eagle reverse is a favorite among coin collectors and has been wildly popular since its initial release in 1986. The original Silver Eagle design, now dubbed the Type-1 design, features a heraldic eagle on the reverse designed by former United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti and an obverse that features Adolph Weinman’s famous Walking Liberty design. Minted from 1916 through 1947, the Walking Liberty design is considered one of the most beautiful

The Silver Eagle reverse is a favorite among coin collectors and has been wildly popular since its initial release in 1986. The original Silver Eagle design, now dubbed the Type-1 design, features a heraldic eagle on the reverse designed by former United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti and an obverse that features Adolph Weinman’s famous Walking Liberty design. Minted from 1916 through 1947, the Walking Liberty design is considered one of the most beautiful coin designs ever made.

Since 1986, the reverse of the Silver Eagle has remained relatively unchanged. However, 2021 will feature a fresh reverse design created by sculptor-artist Emily Damstra Dubbed the Type-2 design, in addition to the new reverse, the new design also includes an anti-counterfeit reeded edge gap security measure and the inclusion of Adolph Weinman’s artist initials on the obverse for the first time ever.  So, who is Emily Damstra and why was her design chosen for the new Silver Eagle reverse?

Emily Damstra is a professional coin and medallic artist who is a current member of the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program (AIP)  She graduated from the University of Michigan, where she received her Master’s degree in Fine Arts in science illustration. As a dual citizen from Canada and the United States, she has worked for the U.S. Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint, producing over 40 coin and medal designs.

Some of her works include the following:

• 2020 America the Beautiful Quarter Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve reverse

• 2019 American Innovation $1 Coin Georgia reverse

• 2019 Native American $1 Coin reverse

• 2019 America the Beautiful Quarter Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness reverse

• 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative obverse and reverse

• Two reverses for the Canadian Wildlife Series

• The entire 2014-2016 Canadian Birds of Prey series

In addition to these works, Emily Damstra has also designed postage stamps for the United Nations Postal Administration. Throughout her career, she has taken inspiration from nature and applied it to both her medallic designs and illustrations.

A U.S. coin artist is responsible for capturing and expressing the heritage, values, and story of the nation. They follow the rules and guidelines set by Congress when working on coin drafts and work with other artists and Mint staff members. If a design receives feedback, the coin artist will revise and implement recommended changes into their work for resubmission.

The coin design process begins with Congress passing legislation, permitting the U.S. Mint to make new coins and medals. Part of this legislation includes design rules and requirements that artists adhere to and add in their drafts. Congress then decides when and what types of new coins to make, but anyone can reach out to their state’s House of Representative’s office to submit a coin idea.

Once legislation passes, a numismatic artist will use different tools and materials to create their coin draft. Artists will often use paper and pencil, for example. Yet, artists will also sketch their designs through drawing software or another application.

After thorough reviews and revisions, artists will submit their designs to the Mint and authorized stakeholders. Two committees, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), review the submitted designs and give their recommendations to the Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary will decide on a final design from other submissions. Once a coin design is selected, Mint artists will sculpt the design into a 3D model, which will eventually be made into test dies and go through some additional coin-striking tests before mass production for public distribution.

Emily Damstra has held a long career as a coin and medallic artist, demonstrating her passion for illustration, nature, and educating others through her work. Thanks to her long career, talent, and following input from the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), and the U.S. Mint staff, the Secretary of the Treasury ultimately selected her submission as the final design when it came time to choose.

In mid-2021, the new Silver Eagle made its debut. So, what will coin enthusiasts and collectors get? The reverse portrays a detailed American Bald Eagle with its wings spread out as it lands on an oak branch. On the outer edges of the coin, there is some engraved, capitalized text surrounding the eagle which says, “United States of America,” “One Dollar,” “1 OZ. Fine Silver,” and “E Pluribus Unum.”

The obverse will depict Weinman’s classic Lady Liberty walking toward the rising sun on the horizon while wearing the American flag over her shoulders as she carries an oak and laurel branch in her arms. Adolph Weinman’s artist initials, “AW” appear on the face of this coin for the first time in the history of the series. Other notable enhancements include the inclusion of a new anti-counterfeit security measure in the form of an interrupted reeded edge gap. For coin collectors and enthusiasts, the new Silver Eagle will make a fine addition to your collection.

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