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American Platinum Eagle

American Platinum Eagle coins debuted in 1997, with authorization from the United States Congress and the backing of the United States Mint for its weight and content. All American Platinum Eagle coins feature .9995 pure platinum content and 1 oz coins have a face value of $100 (USD), which at the time of introduction was the highest face value on any American coin.

In addition to the bullion version of the American Platinum Eagle, the US Mint strikes and releases on an annual basis the Proof American Platinum Eagle. This coin is without question the most unique coin available from the United States Mint, which makes it an excellent addition to your personal collection.

The Proof American Platinum Eagle is the only major bullion coin from the United States Mint to feature a new reverse design each year. In the introductory 1997 issue, the bullion and Proof American Platinum American Eagle coins featured the same design on both the obverse and the reverse.

However, starting in 1998 the US Mint released a series of different design programs for the reverse face of the Proof American Platinum Eagle coins. The first images ever used on the American Platinum Eagle included the following:

  • Portraits of Liberty – Obverse: Then-Chief Engraver of the United States Mint John Mercanti designed the obverse imagery used on the American Platinum Eagle bullion and proof coins. His depiction of Liberty as she gazes into the future is inspired directly by the Statue of Liberty’s appearance and has featured on the obverse face every year since 1997.
  • Eagle Soaring Above America – Reverse: Created by Thomas D. Rogers, a sculptor and engraver with the United States Mint, this depiction shows the American bald eagle as it flies over the sun and its outstretched rays. This image was used only in 1997 for the reverse of the Proof American Platinum Eagle, but it continues in use today as the reverse of the bullion version of the coin. Rogers would create two subsequent designs in the proof series.

Throughout the course of nearly 20 years of production, the Proof American Platinum Eagle has featured a total of four different reverse design programs. These design series do not cover every year of release, but do account for the vast majority of the changing designs used in the series.

From 1998 to 2002, the United States Mint unveiled five different reverse Proof American Platinum Eagle coin designs. Known as Vistas of Liberty, the theme featured the American bald eagle flying over various different scenes from across the United States. Thomas D. Rogers created the first of these images in 1998, with the full list including the following:

  • 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.

Following the conclusion of the Vistas of Liberty design series, the Proof American Platinum Eagle coins would continue to feature new reverse designs in 2003, 2004, and 2005 without featuring a particular design theme. 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 created 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.

From 2006 to 2008, the Mint rolled out a series of three new designs known as the Foundations of Democracy series that highlighted the role of the three branches of the American government: judicial, legislative, and executive. The features of these designs included the following:

  • 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.

Starting in 2009, the United States Mint unveiled its longest running program to date for the Proof American Platinum Eagle coin. Running from 2009 to 2014, this six-coin explored the core concepts of American democracy by highlighting the Preamble of the United States Constitution. Design features include 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.”

The shortest coin design series for the Proof American Platinum Eagle is the recently released Torches of Liberty design. Available on the 2015 and 2016 coins, these images come from members of the United States Mint Artistic Infusion program. Paul C. Balan designed the images used on the reverse of both releases, and United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna contributed to the finished product. Features of the Torches of Liberty theme include:

  • 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.

When the American Platinum Eagle coin was first introduced in 1997, both the bullion and proof versions of the coin were available in 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, and 1/10 oz weights just like the American Gold Eagle coin. While the bullion coin continues to feature fractional-weight coins, the United States Mint last struck the Proof American Platinum Eagle’s fractional-weight coins in 2008. They are no longer in production today, with only the 1 oz Proof American Platinum Eagle available.

The Proof American Platinum Eagle coin typically has an extremely low mintage. In recent years, the mintage for the coin has been held under 10,000 annually. However, rising precious metal prices and increased demand for gold, silver, and platinum have pushed demand for American Platinum Eagles higher. After striking just 4,000 coins in 2015, the 2016 Proof American Platinum Eagle had a mintage of 10,000 coins.