U.S. Mint coin designers play key roles in creating American coins. After extensive research, designers draft simple line drawings to be considered by the Mint for review, ensuring the proposed design follows legal, copyright, and design requirements as well as correct symbols. Once through the entire legal approval process, the design is returned to the artist who then works with a medallic sculptor to bring it to life in either a plaster rendering or a 3D model that becomes the base for the coin’s die mold.
The American Gold Eagle Coins have been iconic additions to bullion collectors and investors since 1986. Available in four sizes – one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce – every American Eagle Gold Proof Coin contains 91.67 percent (22-karat) gold. Since the first coin in 1986, the figure of Liberty is featured on the obverse, a design inspired by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ 1907 $20 gold piece. In 2021, the Mint marked the 35th anniversary with a reimagined portrait of an eagle on the reverse designed by award-winning fine artist Jennie Norris.
Who is Jennie Norris?
Jennie Norris, currently working at the University of Arizona as a graphic designer, is a specialist in fine art, graphic design, and illustration and works primarily with graphite and liquid graphite. During her years as a professional fine artist, Jennie’s work has been seen in several publications and exhibited in numerous group and solo shows within her home state of Arizona. When Norris does have the opportunity to sell her art, she often gives a portion of the proceeds to charities supporting wildlife conservation, rescue, rehabilitation, and sanctuary efforts.
Recently, Jennie Norris has become a part of the United States Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) where the Gold Eagle’s 2021 reverse will be her first design to appear on a coin. Out of 39 other submissions, Norris had a tremendous advantage. As a raptor handler, Jennie has had the opportunity to see birds up close, giving her the insight into details that often escape those who had only seen the birds from afar or on display.
The Artistic Infusion Program (AIP)
The Artistic Infusion Program was founded and established in 2003 with the mission to contract talented, diverse, and professional American artists to work with Mint staff to create new and innovative designs for U.S. Mint’s coins and medals. When an AIP’s design is selected, the artist’s initials usually appear with the medallic sculptor on the final coin or medal.
The American Gold Eagle
The American Eagle Coin Program debuted its first coin in 1986 with both gold and silver coins available to bullion investors. Since that time, the program has expanded to include uncirculated collector versions as well as a platinum version released in 1997 and a palladium version in 2017.
In the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt truly put time and energy into American circulated coins. He wanted to transform the designs, and on December 27, 1904, President Roosevelt wrote a letter to then-Treasury Secretary, Leslie Mortier Shaw, stating that “Our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness.” He proceeded to ask if it would be possible to employ a renowned artist like Augustus Saint-Gaudens to help give American coinage beauty.
Responding to the president’s invitation, Saint-Gaudens created designs that would appear on both the $10 Eagle and $20 Double Eagle gold coins, wherein 1986, the artist’s design was resurrected in an inspired rendition of Liberty to appear on the obverse of the first American Gold Eagle Coin.
2021 American Gold Eagle Design
To mark the 35th anniversary of the American Coin Program, the obverse design holds true to the original inspired image of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, with slight design modifications based on the Mint’s historical assets while the reverse is the redesigned image of Jennie Norris’ eagle. With a closeup profile of the American Bald Eagle, the inscriptions “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “In God We Trust” are found around the rim and above the eagle.
This coin has been received with overwhelming amounts of popularity, but you cannot purchase it in bullion form directly from the U.S. Mint. Instead, you can add this beauty to your collection through trusted dealers like ModernCoinMart.