With sales of the first silver American Eagle for 2020 set to start later this week, it will be the last in the series with the current Reverse design. 2021, which also happens to be the 35th anniversary of the bullion coin, is set for a significant change that includes anti-counterfeiting technology.
The current silver American Eagle has a Reverse designed by John Mercanti, featuring a heraldic eagle with a shield, clutching an olive branch and a bundle of arrows in its right and left talons respectively. It has become somewhat iconic for collectors. The bullion coin, aside from new finishes, has remained virtually unchanged since 1986.
That will change in 2021. The United States Mint has already said that the 2021 silver Eagle will have a Reverse change that will integrate security enhancements. Counterfeiting of these coins has increasingly become an issue as counterfeiters themselves have become increasingly more sophisticated in their dark art. In recent years, an influx of bogus silver Eagles have flooded into the country, most notably from China. The Mint wants to curb that if not stop it all together.
What exactly those anti-counterfeiting measures are that the Mint implements is not clear. Officials have, understandably, been quiet about what will be done. It is possible that techniques used by other Mints around the world could be used. For example, the Royal Canadian Mint uses micro engraving on the silver and gold Maple Leaf bullion coins as well as each die for the coins having a textured Maple Leaf on it. Similar features could make their way to the American Eagle and then will likely make their way into other bullion coins.
One thing that is known for sure is that the new Reverse of the silver Eagle will have an American Eagle on it. This is required by law. What is unclear is if the change to the Reverse will be a major redesign or a simple makeover with these new anti-counterfeiting features. We will likely know by mid-to-late 2020 what the design of the coin will look like for the next year.
Finally, the silver American Eagle is not the only coin that will get a makeover in 2021. The gold American Eagle is also set for a Reverse change in 2021. There are currently no announced plans to change the Platinum or Palladium Eagles in 2021.