American Eagle bullion coin images. After decades of use, the reverse faces are ready for a fresh new look

It was back in 1986 that the United States Mint debuted its new American Eagle bullion coins. Born from a desire to sell off the bulk of the huge stockpile of silver held by the government, after fighting the usual vested interests, it was decided to do so with a new bullion coin. This was believed to be the best way to dispose of it without depressing the value of silver, and without damaging the mining industry.

The end result was the American Silver Eagle. The now iconic coin had a recycled obverse from the 1916 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, but a new reverse face designed by John Mercanti. A great design, almost modern heraldic, it’s become a classic of the type. As always, the task of redesigning the reverse face started with a huge selection of options from numerous artists, which you can see in our original article. The process is an open one, which while cool to see, does mean you’ll rarely get your favourite chosen.

The new design by Emily Damstra (sculpted by Michael Gaudioso) is a good one, although not an adventurous one in our view. In flight and carrying an oak branch in its talons, it’s a safe choice, and one that has a completely different feel to Mercanti’s long running classic.

At the same time came an American Gold Eagle bullion coin. Also carrying an obverse from an early 20th century issue, in this case the $20 Saint-Gaudens gold coin from 1907, it has also seen no real change to either face in the intervening 35 years. The same basic selection of new designs was also used to choose the revised look, and the chosen one by Jennie Norris (sculpted by Renata Gordon) is another major departure from the Miley Busiak original.

The close-up portrait of the Bald Eagle is well done, but again, is quite unadventurous. Those hoping for something more striking were never going to get that. Both of these coins represent the government and image of the United States, so solidity was always going to take priority over artistic flair. To their credit, the gold and silver coins are both decent, but just not distinctive in a way the original 1986 issues were. The look of both has been done before.

As well as the usual selection of bullion formats (1oz silver, 1oz, 1/2oz, 1/4oz, 1/10oz gold) which should be shipping in a couple of months time, there will be proof variants as well. The gold ones should launch on 08 July, with the silver following on 16 August. All told, a welcome change for a coin that needed refreshing, even if they weren’t our first choices.