A new American Silver Eagle design will mark the 35th anniversary of the American Eagle coin program next year in 2021. The U.S. Mint is introducing new reverse designs for both the Gold Eagle and Silver Eagle to mark the occasion. These changes to the 2021 American Gold Eagle and Silver Eagle will create a new standard design for both coins.

new silver eagle reverse

New Silver Eagle reverse design. Image: United States Mint

The new 2021 Silver Eagle reverse design will be a break from the past, replacing the original reverse eagle design of a heraldic eagle created by John Mercanti in 1986. The 2021 SIlver Eagle will also debut a "refreshed" depiction of the famous "Walking Liberty" design on the obverse, based on the original 1916–1947 silver half dollar by Adolph A.Weinman.

The Mint uses special occasions to revisit historical coin designs that are used on modern coins. Modern technology allowed the Mint to scan Weinman's large master molds of the Walking Liberty half dollar, capturing all the fine details of the artist's original 1916 design. The new dies from these scans will present Weinman's famous design to the public as he originally intended.

The 2021 Silver Eagle Reverse Design

The 2021 Silver Eagle design change replaces the symbolic "eagle with shield and stars" reverse with a dynamic image of a real bald eagle in flight. Carrying an oak branch, the eagle is shown flaring its wings to land.

The required inscriptions curve around the rim, and are rendered in a new clean, modern style. The national motto E PLURIBUS UNUM that was on a ribbon in the old design has been enlarged and moved above the weight of the coin.

Emily Damstra is the artist who created the new American eagle design. Damstra has previously designed coins for the highly-esteemed Royal Canadian Mint, and was contracted through the U.S. Mint's artistic infusion program (AIP). Her work was chosen among many submissions for proposed reverse designs, judged by an expert panel known as the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC).

New Anti-Counterfeiting Measures for the 2021 Silver Eagle

Part of the reason for redesigning the Silver Eagle in 2021 is to introduce new anti-counterfeiting measures. The same is true of the new American Gold Eagle coins.

This is an area where the U.S. Mint has lagged behind the mints of other nations. The Mint promises multiple anti-counterfeiting measures will be incorporated into both the Silver Eagle and Gold Eagle bullion coins. Implementation of the enhanced security measures for collector versions of American Eagle coins will come when they change to the 2021 reverse.

While officials did not go into details about the new security features, recent collaborations between the U.S. Mint and Royal Canadian Mint point to the possibility that the RCM will share its world-leading anti-counterfeiting technology with the U.S. The same can be done for U.S. gold coins, as well.

2021 ASE obverse

2021 American Eagle silver coin obverse

2021 Silver Eagle Release Dates

The U.S. Mint plans to release the redesigned 2021 American Silver Eagle in "summer 2021" according to their press release ("United States Mint Unveils New American Eagle Gold and Silver Coin Reverse Designs"). This means that some versions of Silver Eagles will be made with both designs.

Michael White, a spokesperson for the mint, explained in an email that the 2021 bullion and 2021-W proof Silver Eagles from the West Point Mint will be released in January. They both will carry the old, original design until the middle of the year, then transition to the new reverse design.

The 2021-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle will be released in July, after the redesigned reverse is introduced. This means that it will not be minted with the old reverse in 2021. The same applies to the 2021-S proof Silver Eagle from the San Francisco Mint. It is usually released in October, long after the new Silver Eagle reverse will be introduced.

This means that the 2020-S proof and 2020-W uncirculated Silver Eagles will be the last mintages of their type to feature the old reverse. Collectors should plan accordingly.

A New Key Date for American Silver Eagle

The 2021 American Silver Eagle will be a key date in the series. There are two 2020 Silver Eagles that will also be key dates, being the last full year of the old design. Collectors will certainly want to obtain examples of Silver Eagles with both reverses.

Here is a quick checklist, so you know which 2020 coins you need to buy before they sell out.

2021 Silver Eagle Bullion Coin

  • 2021 will feature both reverses

2021-W Silver Eagle Proof Coin

  • 2021 will feature both reverses

2021-W Silver Eagle Uncirculated Coin

  • 2020 will be the last full year for the old reverse
  • 2021 will only feature the new reverse

2021-S Silver Eagle Proof Coin

  • 2020 will be the last year for the old reverse
  • 2021 will only feature the new reverse

Check out all of the American Silver Eagles available for sale on our category page of product listings.

About the American Silver Eagle

Liberty Head Design On Silver Eagle Coin

Close-up of Walking Liberty design on Silver Eagle coin

The American Silver Eagle is the world's most popular 1 ounce silver bullion coin. Technically, it is the modern U.S. silver dollar. More than a half billion Silver Eagles have been sold since its introduction in 1986. As the first official silver bullion coin of the United States, the Silver American Eagle enjoys unprecedented popularity and liquidity around the world. It is also a widely collected bullion coin.

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Steven Cochran

Steven Cochran

Precious Metals Market Analyst | BS University of South Florida (2002)

A published writer, Steven's coverage of precious metals goes beyond the daily news to explain how ancillary factors affect the market.

Steven specializes in market analysis with an emphasis on stocks, corporate bonds, and government debt.