Louis Golino writes:
I wrote an article about the new book on Silver Eagles by John Mercanti and Michael Standish that was published in Coin Week, where I write a regular column called "The Coin Analyst."
Thanks. Here are some excerpts from Louis' article - be sure to read the compete version online.
John Mercanti, who served as the U.S. Mint’s 12th Chief Engraver until his retirement in 2010, holds the distinction of having designed more U.S. coins and medals than any other employee of the Mint in its 220-year history. In his new book for Whitman Publishing, American Silver Eagles: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program, that was released in November, Mercanti teams up with Michael “Miles” Standish, senior coin grader at PCGS and a leading expert on modern coins, who has graded over six million coins during his career, to produce a definitive guidebook on American silver eagles.
A reference book focusing on silver eagles is long overdue. The coin is one of the most widely traded silver bullion coin in the world, with more than 300 million examples in existence, and it is the most widely collected modern American coin. It is the modern American silver dollar, and in many ways, as I have argued before, the modern-day equivalent of the Morgan silver dollar. Moreover, in the view of Eric Jordan, the burnished uncirculated versions that have been issued since 2006 in much smaller numbers than the bullion and proof examples, are the modern equivalent of Carson City Morgan dollars, which were minted in smaller numbers than Morgan dollars minted at other branch mints.
Reading the book one learns how the American silver eagle coin program came into existence. It was authorized in a provision that was part of the 1985 Liberty Coin Act, which created the three Statue of Liberty commemorative coins that were issued in 1986. The provisions in that legislation that authorized the American silver eagle program specified that the silver had to come from the nation’s silver stockpile, specified the fineness and other technical aspects of the coin, the pricing formula, and said no coins could be sold before September 1, 1986. The silver eagle legislation was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1985, and President Reagan’s oldest son, Michael, wrote the foreword for this book.
A fascinating aspect of the creation of the coin, and one which in some ways reinforces the parallel with the Morgan dollar, is that the coin was created as a means of disposing of excess silver bullion from the stockpile that had been amassed as part of the National Defense Stockpile, which as the book explains, several presidential administrations believed were in excess of the likely strategic need for the metal.
This book is a real pleasure to read, especially because of the lavish illustrations and the coffee-table format. It includes an eight-page gallery that depicts the numerous coins and medals Mercanti designed during his almost forty year career at the Mint.
It also includes many informative sidebars that explain important aspects of the coin design and issuance process, the minting process, and the history of silver eagles. For example, there is a useful discussion of the Commission on Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission, which are the two commissions that review all coin and medal designs and make recommendations to the Mint and the Treasury Secretary about which designs should appear on our coinage.
It is well known that Mercanti created the heraldic eagle design for the silver eagle’s reverse, which he discusses in detail in the book. What is less well known is the more subtle modifications he made to the original Adolph Weinman design used for the coin’s obverse. The book includes side by side photos of the original and modernized images, which shows how they differ.
To read the complete article, see:
The Coin Analyst: John Mercanti’s Silver Eagle Guidebook
To read earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: AMERICAN SILVER EAGLES: A GUIDE TO THE U.S. BULLION COIN PROGRAM
BOOK REVIEW: AMERICAN SILVER EAGLES - THE MERCANTI PERSPECTIVE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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