On June 14—Flag Day—the American Liberty 225th Anniversary Silver Medal™ arrives! Featuring Lady Liberty depicted as a young African-American woman, the medal’s design is a fresh take on the traditional allegorical representation of Liberty. It blends one of the most important symbols of our past with the creation of a modern rendition of Liberty. This inspired design embraces our Nation’s founding principles that “all men are created equal … with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Join us as we celebrate a newly “minted” American symbol, the culmination of 225 years of progress and artistic vision.
THE AMERICAN LIBERTY 225TH ANNIVERSARY SILVER MEDAL
Mint designer Justin Kunz has created a modern classic with his depiction of Liberty for the obverse. The reverse features a bold and powerful eagle in flight, with eyes toward opportunity and a determination to attain it, by Mint designer Chris Costello. These two iconic symbols—Lady Liberty and the American eagle—symbolize artistic expression and the great American story.
THE AMERICAN LIBERTY 225TH ANNIVERSARY GOLD COINTM
The history of Liberty on American coins is storied; its symbolism reaches back through our British and French influences to ancient classical roots. Over time, American artists have added new American symbols and iconography which helped create and distinguish not just American coins, but our culture itself. The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin represents a new chapter in American numismatic history. The culmination of 225 years of evolving American iconography marks the evolution of our Nation and its ongoing progress, while embodying the spirit of the words in our founding documents that unite us. Below is a brief excerpt on the origins of the American Liberty symbol from the companion book included with our 225th anniversary gold coin.
This is an excerpt from the companion booklet on the origins of Liberty on American coins.
Classical depictions of Liberty originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans. They likely came to the United States through British and French cultural influences of the day, along with the classically–inspired values of the enlightenment era that inspired many of the Nation’s founders.
In ancient Rome, the concept of liberty was personified as a female deity, the goddess Libertas. This goddess was shown with a brimless cap given to freed slaves as a symbol of their freedom and liberty, and with a pole or rod used in the ceremony to indicate the person being freed. These symbols became so popular that early Americans erected “liberty poles” to display their opposition to British rule. The liberty cap and pole were and continue to be important symbols of liberation from America’s colonial past, appearing in the early designs of the Great Seal of the United States, as well as on flags of the States, seals, and of course, coins.
France also personified liberty in its national allegorical figure of freedom, Marianne. Birthed in the fire of revolution, France embraced Marianne as a powerful symbol of liberty throughout its art and culture. When France chose a symbol to commemorate its alliance with the United States in 1886, it is not surprising that our long-time ally presented the United States with the statue “Liberty Enlightening the World.” Standing atop Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. For more than 130 years, this iconic statue has welcomed immigrants from across the globe, many of whom risked everything in the pursuit of the life of freedom that the Statue of Liberty represents.
Why have images of Liberty become so important to the people of the United States? It may be because this personification served as a unifying ideal for its citizens. They lacked uniformly common national origins, cultural experiences, religious practices, and other multigenerational history to bind them together. Although many were of European descent, the Thirteen Original Colonies’ immigrant population was a diverse assortment of peoples, some of which were reflected in the many currencies used during the colonial era.
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“We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home;
nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.”
– President Grover Cleveland, speech accepting the Statue of Liberty from France in 1886