The United States of America has an enduring and storied history with the concept of “liberty.” Through one lens, the idea cuts to the very heart of our existence as proclaimed proudly by those familiar words: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.” From a different perspective, however, the concept's magnitude and to whom it's applied has ebbed and flowed throughout our great nation's history.

Today, we’re exploring a coin that speaks the very essence of “liberty,” and how it’s represented in America today: the 2019 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin™.

The History of Lady Liberty on U.S. Coinage

Less than 20 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Congress passed the Coinage – or Mint – Act of 1792. Aside from regulating American currency, this first-of-its-kind bill established the dollar as the nation's standard unit of money and created the U.S. Mint. For the more than 200 years since, the Mint has been producing our nation’s money in the form of paper bills and precious metal coins.

From the first copper cent coins released in 1793 through the few years after World War II, U.S. coins bore an image of Liberty primarily resembling women of European heritage. Since then, Liberty has slowly become more representative of America's diverse and ethnically rich heritage, sometimes even appearing alongside emblems of North America like cotton, wheat, or Native American icons.

In 2015, we saw even more progress toward representation with the launch of the which produces both gold coins and silver medals. With its four releases to date, the American Liberty series aims to exemplify the values and ideals of the United States while simultaneously pushing toward a more representative depiction of all Americans today.

The series continues in 2019 with its latest gold and silver iterations, which were both released by the U.S. Mint last month. United States Gold Bureau clients can work with our team of Precious Metals Experts to add one of these current-year beauties to their precious metals portfolios.

U.S. Gold Bureau inventory will feature certified perfect-condition “Specimen Proof 70” coins that boast an enhanced uncirculated finish and frosted details.

The Story of the American Liberty Series

The first installment of the groundbreaking American Liberty gold coin and silver medal series was released to the public in 2015. In keeping with the mission of the project, this first-year issue featured a "modern" depiction of Lady Liberty that exuded essences of strength, passion, and dynamism often lacking in pieces of the past.

The series’ 2017 issue is arguably its most groundbreaking to date. For the first time in American history, Lady Liberty is expressly depicted as an African-American woman; an occasion made all the more profound by its marking of the U.S. Mint's 225th anniversary. As the Mint states, the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin was designed to epitomize the enduring “ideals of freedom and equality set forth in our Declaration of Independence.”

The 2017 gold coin was met with so much reverence that the 2019 World Money Fair honored it as the “Best Gold Coin” of 2019.

On top of all those accolades, the coin is the first in U.S. history to be struck in both high relief and Proof finish.

The 2018 gold coin installment was produced as a complement to the 2017 issue, featuring the same designs on both the obverse and reverse, but struck in a one-tenth-ounce size.

This year, the American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin features new obverse and reverse designs.

On the obverse, a left-facing portrait of Liberty is shown alongside 13 stars that line the left edge of the coin. “IN GOD WE TRUST," the coin's strike year of 2019, "W" mintmark, and initials of both the designer, Richard Masters, and sculptor, Joseph Menna, also all appear on the front side of the coin.

While the Mint describes Liberty as featured “with 13 rays of light emanating along her headdress,” one could argue that, in a more poetic take, the rays of light are, in fact, the headdress itself, speaking to Liberty’s frequent relation to the dawning of a new day and all the hope and energy that comes with such an association. Regardless of the interpretation, it would be hard to argue the fact that Liberty continues to symbolize "the free and creative spirit of America's people.”

The reverse features an image of an American bald eagle, this time preparing to land versus in flight, as with previous designs. Accompanying the eagle are inscriptions reflecting the coin’s $100 face value, the U.S. motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, initials of both the designer, Donna Eaver, and sculptor, Michael Gaudioso, the coin’s specifications of one ounce .9999 fine gold, and finally, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” struck proudly along the reverse’s bottom and right rims.

Enhanced Uncirculated Finish & Specimen Proof 70 Certification

2019 American Liberty High Relief gold coins offered by the United States Gold Bureau are all certified perfect-score Specimen Proof 70 pieces, a unique grade administered and guaranteed by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

In addition to being an industry-leading coin grading outfit, NGC is well-known and trusted throughout the numismatics sphere. The organization employs more than 30 full-time coin grading experts and adheres to strict procedures that safeguard the integrity of its operation and ensure top-notch levels of grading impartiality.

Since its founding in 1987, NGC has used the globally accepted for its grading efforts. The Sheldon Scale, which dates back in the U.S. to the late 1940s, is built upon a point system, which, for Proof coins, ranges from 1 to 59 on the low end – for what are called “Impaired Proofs” – and up to 70 on the high end for coins “with no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification,” as defined by NGC.

Additionally, coins are given a “strike type” specification, which indicates the production process used to create the coin. Strike types assigned by NGC include “MS” (“Mint State”), “PF” (“Proof”), and the aforementioned “SP” (“Specimen”), among others. The “Specimen” classification is given to coins that are struck as a hybrid between Mint State and Proof.

In addition to the NGC-administered Specimen Proof 70 grade, 2019 American Liberty gold coins feature what’s called an “Enhanced Uncirculated” finish. While many finishes on the Sheldon Scale have been in use for decades, it wasn't until 2013 that the Mint debuted what is now known as "Enhanced Uncirculated" finished coins.

The first coin struck in this new fashion was the 2013-W American Eagle silver dollar. The finish was conceived in response to customer feedback that "thick" frosting on Proof coins was prone to reducing the clarity of or even obscuring design details entirely.

Upon receiving such feedback, the U.S. Mint assessed its Proof-grade laser frosting technique and came up with the updated “Enhanced Uncirculated” finish. Much like Proof grade coins, Enhanced Uncirculated pieces are struck multiple times with specially prepared dies, allowing for the pristine-level of sharpness revered by numismatists and precious metals investors alike. Where Enhanced Uncirculated pieces differ from Proof coins is in terms of how much frosting is applied to the coins’ surfaces. Enhanced Uncirculated pieces receive less frosting than Proof grade coins, resulting in only a select portion of the coins’ design elements appearing textured.

In addition to appearing on the 2013-W Silver American Eagles, the finish can be found on the Proof 2013-W 5-Star Generals gold $5 half eagle, 2014-S Kennedy silver half dollar, and now the 2019 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin, among others.

The 2019 American Liberty High Relief Gold coin, as with the series’ preceding releases, is a striking piece of precious metal artistry. If you would like to learn more about this celebrated coin and explore adding one to your precious metals portfolio, give our team of experts a call today (800-775-3504)!