Proof Platinum American Eagles
The United States Mint’s American Eagle Series of coins has been available for more than three decades now, and the conversation regarding these coins often focuses on the Gold and Silver Eagle coins. While both are leaders in the precious metals industry, with the Silver Eagle known as the single most popular coin in the world, there is another offering in the series that is near-equal in value to gold version and unique among the American Eagle series of coins.
Platinum American Eagle coins debuted in 1997 as the official platinum bullion coin of the United States. The first major addition to the American Eagle program in the series’ history, the Platinum American Eagle is available in bullion and proof versions, and originally featured a total of four weights similar to the Gold American Eagle version of the coins.
Quick Introduction to the Platinum American Eagle
Each of the Platinum American Eagle coins contains .9995 fine platinum. The 1 oz coins in both versions have a face value of $100 (USD), which at the time was the highest face value on a US Mint bullion coin. The three fractional-weight coins in the Platinum American Eagle series included a ½ oz option with a $50 (USD) face value, a ¼ oz option with a $25 (USD) face value, and a 1/10 oz coin with a $10 (USD) face value. Unlike the Gold Eagles, these coins have face values representative of their fractional weight compared to the 1 oz coin and its face value.
On top of offering these coins as bullion specimens, the United States Mint also struck a collectible Proof Platinum American Eagle coin. Although this fact alone does not make the coin a special product, the design elements of the Proof Platinum American Eagle do make it unique among the offerings from the United States Mint.
Proof Platinum American Eagle coins from the US Mint feature new reverse designs each year, making them the only bullion coins from the US Mint with a rotating design theme on the coin’s surface.
Design of the Platinum American Eagle Coins
For the obverse side of the Platinum American Eagle coins, the design elements have remained the same since 1997. John Mercanti served as the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1986 until 2010, when he retired. Mercanti is already well-known for creating the heraldic eagle used on the reverse of the Silver American Eagle, and developed a design for the obverse of the Platinum American Eagle that is referred to as Portraits of Liberty.
The obverse of each coin features a brilliant frontal image of the Statue of Liberty’s head. You can see her face up close as she gazes toward the future. This design includes engravings of “LIBERTY” above her head, the coin’s year of issue to the right, and the phrase “In God We Trust.”
When it comes to the bullion version of the coin, Thomas D. Rogers’ 1997 design remains the standard image. His “Eagle Soaring Above America” design was used on the reverse of both the bullion and proof version of the coin in 1997, but as the reverse design is rotated each year, his design has not continued on the reverse side of proof coins. The 1997 year of issue remains the only one in which bullion and proof Platinum American Eagle coins featured the same design.
Rogers was an engraver and sculptor with the United States Mint, and he created three designs in total for the Proof Platinum American Eagle, including the 1998 and 2001 issues of the coin.
Reverse Design Schemes of the Proof Platinum American Eagle Coin
Throughout the 20 years of Proof Platinum American Eagle production history, the US Mint has introduced a total of four different reverse design themes. Each of the design themes featured new motifs, with different designs each year. In any given design series, the designs were different but the overall motif remained focus on a singular concept.
The first of these design themes was the Vistas of Liberty, which ran from 1998 to 2002. Rogers, who created the very first bullion and proof reverse designs, created the first new reverse design for the Proof Platinum American Eagle to launch the Vistas of Liberty series. Each design in this series focused on the American bald eagle as it flew above different backdrops and sceneries from different corners of the United States. The Vistas of Liberty designs included:
- 1998: Eagle is featured flying over the scenery of New England and a rocky coast line, with a beach town’s lighthouse and the full moon featured in the design from Rogers.
- 1999: The eagle is featured flying above the wetlands of the American Southeast, with an alligator crawling through the swamp below. This was created by Al Maletsky.
- 2000: Maletsky’s second consecutive design features the eagle flying over a field in the American Midwest, with a barn and farmhouse included.
- 2001: The third and final design from Rogers, who retired in 2001, features the bald eagle as it flies above the saguaro cactus species found throughout the southwest, in particular Arizona.
- 2002: The final Vistas of Liberty design was created by Maletsky, and depicts a bald eagle as it swoops down into a lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains in the northwestern US.
The second of the Proof Platinum American Eagle designs series was the Foundations of Democracy program from 2006 to 2008. This three-year series featured designs representing the three branches of government in the US: judicial, legislative, and executive. Information on those three designs is included below:
- 2006: Designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Don Everhart, this is the Legislative Muse design that is flanked by two eagles resting on columns that represent the bicameral legislature of the US Congress.
- 2007: Designed by Tom Cleveland and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, this simple design features the overpowering image of the American bald eagle as a representative of the executive branch of the United States government.
- 2008: Designed again by Iskowitz and sculpted by Charles Vickers, this image of Lady Justice is watched over by an American bald eagle in its representation of the judicial branch of the government.
The longest running Proof Platinum American Eagle reverse design series was the six-coin Preamble of the United States Constitution. The founding document for the nation, the Constitution remains vital to American life today and is cited as the most important document in forming and guiding America. These designs were struck from 2009 to 2014, and included the following:
- 2009: With the picture of four faces that represent the diversity of the United States, this design from Susan Gamble and sculptor Phebe Hemphill represented the concept “To Form a More Perfect Union.”
- 2010: Representative of the theme “To Establish Justice,” this features the image of Lady Justice holding the scales of justice in one hand and the laurel branch in her other hand.
- 2011: Featured a design that represents the theme “To Insure Domestic Tranquility,” and depicts a worker in an American field holding out a hand to a dove as it lands.
- 2012: Designed by Barbara Fox and sculpted by Charles L. Vickers, this features the image of an American militiaman from the American Revolution, and follows the theme “To Provide for the Common Defence.”
- 2013: Imagery represents the theme “To Promote the General Welfare.”
- 2014: The final release features Liberty holding her torch aloft as the sun rises in the distant background. This design reflects the theme “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity.”
Finally, the United States Mint has just recently completed its fourth reverse Proof Platinum American Eagle coin design series. The short, two-year program is known as the Torches of Liberty and features designs from artists in the United States Mint Artistic Infusion program, which brings along a new generation of engravers and designers. The Torches of Liberty series included the following designs:
- 2015: Known as Liberty Nurtures Freedom, this design features Lady Liberty with her traditional torch in her right hand as she holds out her left hand to the American bald eagle as it raises its wings. The eagle is perched atop the globe of planet Earth, with the sun rising into the sky in the background.
- 2016: Known as the Torch of Enlightenment, this final design features Liberty as she holds out her torch to light the world. An American bald eagle flies through the image and a large olive branch encircles the right-side of the design.
Paul C. Balan, from the US Mint Artistic Infusion Program, designed the images used on the reverse of both releases, and United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna contributed to the finished product.
There was just one period of time during the Proof Platinum American Eagle’s history that a formal series of reverse designs was not used. This covered the period from 2003 to 2005. Vistas of Liberty designer Al Maletsky created a fourth and final design for the Proof American Platinum Eagle in 2003 with the image of an American bald eagle perched atop a rocky mountain’s cliff, with the American flag serving as the backdrop.
Donna Weaver contributed to this non-themed series of Proof Platinum American Eagle coins, creating both the 2004 and 2005 design in this period, with the first featuring an engraving of the sculpture known as “America” from outside of the US Customs House in New York City, which was designed by Daniel Chester French. Her 2005 design depicted the American bald eagle atop the heraldic shield of the nation, and was similar to the heraldic eagle design of other coin programs.
Mintage Background for the Proof Platinum American Eagle Coins
While the bullion coin in this series is struck to meet demand, the Proof Platinum American Eagle coin is struck with strict limits each year. Although the United States Mint originally made the Proof Platinum American Eagle available in four different weights. As of 2008, the US Mint only produces the coins in the popular 1 oz weight. After striking just 4,000 coins in 2015, the US Mint more than doubled production in 2016 to 10,000 coins.
About the United States Mint
The sovereign mint of the United States, the US Mint is one of the most highly respected facilities in the world. Responsible for the production of America’s circulation currency and commemorative coinage, the US Mint was founded in 1792 with passage of the Currency Act of 1792 by the newly-formed United States Congress. The US Mint currently operates four state-of-the-art facilities: the Philadelphia Mint, West Point Mint, Denver Mint, and San Francisco Mint.
Coins from the US Mint that are popular among investors and collectors are limited to bullion, proof, and uncirculated versions. Without question, the most popular coin series is the American Eagle, which includes the Proof Platinum American Eagle.
Purchasing Proof Platinum American Eagle Coins on Silver.com
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