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The E-Sylum (1/22/2017)

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Last week (January 12, 2017), the U.S. Mint publicly unveiled images of the upcoming 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin. Here's the press release. -Editor

2017_225th_American Liberty_Gld_O 2017_225th_American Liberty_Gld_R

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin and United States Mint (Mint) Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson today unveiled designs for the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin in the historic Department of the Treasury's Cash Room. The ceremony, led by Mint Chief of Staff Elisa Basnight, kicked off a year-long series of events in celebration of the Mint's 225th anniversary in 2017 (#USMint225).

"We are very proud of the fact that the United States Mint is rooted in the Constitution," said Principal Deputy Director Jeppson. "Our founding fathers realized the critical need for our fledgling nation to have a respected monetary system, and over the last 225 years, the Mint has never failed in its mission."

The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin design is unique in that it portrays Liberty as an African-American woman, a departure from previous classic designs. The obverse (heads) design depicts a profile of Liberty wearing a crown of stars, with the inscriptions "LIBERTY," "1792," "2017," and "IN GOD WE TRUST." The reverse (tails) design depicts a bold and powerful eagle in flight, with eyes toward opportunity and a determination to attain it. Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "1OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD," and "100 DOLLARS."

The obverse was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Justin Kunz and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, while the reverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso.

The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin will be struck in .9999 fine 24-karat gold at the West Point Mint in high relief, with a proof finish. The one-ounce coin will be encapsulated and placed in a custom designed, black wood presentation case. A 225th anniversary booklet with Certificate of Authenticity will accompany each coin.

The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin is the first in a series of 24-karat gold coins that will feature designs which depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms-including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others-to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States. These 24-karat gold coins will be issued biennially. A corresponding series of medals struck in .999 silver, with the same designs featured on the gold coins, will also be available.

While the stars are a bit over-the-top in size, I still like this design a lot. It's too pricey to add to my collection, but I think it's a worthy effort. See the earlier E-Sylum articles linked below for more discussion. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Department of the Treasury Officials Join United States Mint for Unveiling of 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin (

The Washington Post Editorial Board published this reaction on January 20, 2017. -Editor

FLIP AN American coin, and there’s a zero percent chance you’ll find a black woman on either side. In April, that will change: To celebrate its 225th anniversary, the U.S. Mint plans to release a commemorative $100 gold coin featuring an African American Lady Liberty.

The 24-karat coin, whose release the Mint announced last Thursday, will cost far more than its face value — around $1,500, depending on the price of gold — and will be a collector’s item, not everyday currency. The Mint will also make less-expensive silver reproductions. The coin is the first in a series to reflect what the Mint calls "the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States." The exact shape future Ladies Liberty will take, according to the Mint, will be up to the artists who design them.

This commemorative coin will arrive just less than a year after the announcement that Harriet Tubman is bumping Andrew Jackson to the back of the $20 bill. In some ways, the news about Lady Liberty seems small in comparison. Most Americans won’t use or even see the coin; only numismatic enthusiasts will find a place for it in their collections (though former president Barack Obama expressed interest in purchasing one). Besides, Tubman deserves to be recognized for the remarkable role she played in history, while Lady Liberty is just an allegory.

Yet allegory is also what makes Lady Liberty the perfect candidate for a recasting of American ideals: Because she has no face, the country gets to decide what face to give her. The multicultural Ladies at their best will chronicle an evolution in what the nation thinks liberty means and always should have meant: freedom not just for the huddled European masses whom the Statue of Liberty began welcoming after her own arrival to New York in 1885, but the men and women who arrived in chains decades before, and those who come to America from around the world today believing in her promise.

To read the complete article, see:
Lady Liberty is getting a new face (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

The New York Times obtained comments from officials and staff at the U.S. Mint, the American Numismatic Association and the American Numismatic Society. -Editor

2017 American Liberty Gold Coin edge ... Lady Liberty is among the most potent of American symbols. Her best-known depiction, a gift from France in 1886, stands in New York Harbor, a giant statue of a woman with white European features beckoning with a lamp to the refugees of the world.

"Part of our intent was to honor our tradition and heritage," Rhett Jeppson, the principal deputy director of the Mint, said in a phone interview on Friday. "But we also think it’s always worthwhile to have a conversation about liberty, and we certainly have started that conversation."

Mr. Jeppson said that several women had approached him after seeing the coin and told him, "she looks like me when I was younger."

"I saw real value in that," he said. "That we see ourselves in the images in our coins."

The Mint is expecting the coin to sell well, Mr. Jeppson said. Any profit the Mint generates from the sale of its coins is returned to the Treasury. Last year, the Mint sent about $600 million back to the federal government, Mr. Jeppson said.

In addition to the 100,000 gold coins — more than is typical for this sort of commemorative coin — that will be printed at West Point, the Mint will also produce 100,000 of what it calls medals, silver reproductions of the image that will sell for around $40 to $50.

Collectors expect the black Lady Liberty coin to be popular.

Whenever the Mint does something new, it creates buzz, said Gilles Bransbourg, a curator with the American Numismatic Society and a research associate at New York University.

"It’s departing from any of the coins that have been produced so far," he said. "It sends a strong message that the Mint is departing from the tradition that will be perceived as very white."

Symbolism aside, the new Lady Liberty coin is "really beautiful," said Jeff Garrett, the president of the American Numismatic Association, who saw the coin several months ago in Washington. "It’s struck in high relief, which means the high points are much higher than circulating coinage."

"I’ll buy one for sure," he said. "I’ll probably buy several."

To read the complete article, see:
The Coin? Gold. Its ‘Real Value’? Lady Liberty Is Black. (

Thanks also to Arthur Shippee who forwarded a BBC news piece. There are no shortage of other opinions on the coin. Charles Morgan at CoinWeek did a great job summarizing these in his January 16, 2017 Editor's Commentary. Below are paragraphs excerpted from the beginning and end of the piece - be sure to read the rest online - it makes some excellent points. -Editor

The United States Mint released images of the 2017 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin on Tuesday, January 12, and the story took off like a steampunk locomotive powered by jet fuel in the mainstream media. In one sense this is understandable, since the new design features a straightforwardly African-American version of Lady Liberty. From the Mint's framing that this is a first, the story is legitimate news - especially for people who do not read numismatic periodicals or keep up with the latest numismatic products from the Mint.

An industry our size can't buy this kind of PR. If it's not your thing, if you don’t like the design... even if you, in this day and age, find it difficult to accept that Liberty is an idea and not one ethnicity or another... then you are still benefiting from the introduction of this coin.

To read the complete article, see:
Everybody’s Got One: Opinions Vary on 2017 American Liberty Gold Coin (/


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