The 2016 American Silver Eagle marks the 30th anniversary release of the United States’ official silver bullion coin. It was approved by the 1985 Liberty Coin Act and first introduced into circulation by the U.S. Mint in 1986. The coin is one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver with the addition of .07% copper to increase the coin’s resilience. It has a face value of $1 and is considered legal tender backed by the U.S. government. The Silver Eagle’s purity, weight, and content are also guaranteed by the U.S. government and certified by the U.S. Mint.
Production of the American Silver Eagle coin is based on demand. In 2014, an estimated 44 million American Silver Eagles were struck and sold, making it a coveted coin among investors and collectors. Sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, a student of the famous Augustus Saint-Gaudens, was chosen in 1915 to help with the redesign of all of America’s silver coins.
The obverse of the coin has been modeled after Weinman’s “Walking Liberty” design, which originally appeared on the United States’ first half-dollar that circulated from 1916 to 1947. The coin is engraved with Weinman’s depiction of Lady Liberty, draped in the American Flag, marching confidently westward toward the setting sun. She holds laurel and oak branches in her left arm to symbolize civil and military glory. The image was designed to depict the nation’s desire for expansion and a fearless approach to the unknown future. The word “Liberty” stretches in a semicircle over the top of the coin and the mint year is displayed underneath Lady Liberty’s feet. The phrase “In God We Trust” is placed toward the bottom right corner of the coin.
The reverse features U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti’s design of a majestic bald eagle with a shielded chest. The full outstretched wings of the eagle dominate the center of the coin, and he proudly holds a banner with the phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which translates to “out of many, one.” In his right talon, the eagle grasps an olive branch while holding a bundle of arrows in his left. Thirteen stars are located above the eagle in an inverted triangle to represent the thirteen colonies. The coin reads, “United States of America,” arched in a semicircle at the top of the coin, and in a semicircle at the bottom, “1 Oz. Fine Silver ~ One Dollar.”
The American Silver Eagle is 40.6 mm in diameter and 2.98 mm thick.