The American Gold Eagle made its debut in 1986 and quickly became a favorite among collectors around the world. Since the beginning of the series, the iconic Saint-Gaudens obverse design and Miley Busiek's reverse design have remained unchanged. At some point during 2021 that classic reverse design will be replaced by a new eagle design created by Jennie Norris, a highly accomplished artist, and passionate conservationist.
Who is Jennie Norris?
Norris is a graphic designer who currently works at the University of Arizona. A specialist in fine art, graphic design, and illustration, she recently became a part of the United States Mint's Artistic Infusion Program (AIP). She works in graphite and liquid graphite.
Remarkably, the Gold Eagle's new reverse will be her first design to appear on a coin.
Why was Jennie Norris' reverse design chosen?
Norris' design was among a total of thirty-nine that were submitted to the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) in 2020. The submissions were for both the Gold Eagle and the Silver Eagle reverses. Norris had a tremendous advantage given her experience as a raptor handler, which allowed her to see birds up close and gain an appreciation for details of their appearances that might escape those who had only seen the birds in nature or on display at zoos and other facilities. The CCAC recommended Norris's design for the Silver Eagle, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ultimately chose Norris's reverse for the Gold Eagle, and the rest is history.
The New American Gold Eagle Design
The new design depicts a close-up profile of a bald eagle. Norris shows just the bird's head and makes full use of the space within the rim inscriptions, which enabled her to provide an exceptional level of detail that includes the bird's strong beak and dense plumage. Above the eagle's head are the two statutory inscriptions, "E PLURIBUS UNUM," which is arched just inside the rim inscriptions, and the national motto, "IN GOD WE TRUST," which is horizontal. "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" is inscribed on the top half of the rim.
The central devices are separated by each of the inscriptions on the bottom half by three stars. The legends on the bottom half of this face read, "50 DOLLARS" and "1 OZ. FINE GOLD." A single star separates them.
More About Jennie Norris
Since 1976, Norris has lived in Tuscon, Arizona. She loves the outdoors and is at home in the Sonoran Desert. Her work is inspired by the local flora and fauna, as well as the abundant rustic architecture. When Norris sells her artwork, she often gives a portion of the proceeds to charities that support wildlife conservation and rescue, rehabilitation, and sanctuary efforts. She has also donated work for charity auctions that these institutions run.
While Jenny Norris is an AIP novice, it may be difficult for her to top her first accomplishment as part of the United States Mint. Given her massive success with other artistic ventures and her close contact with the outdoors that will continue to inspire her work, it will be fun to watch her try. As she builds her portfolio of numismatic contributions, it's easy to imagine the demand for her first-ever coin to grow over the years and decades to come.