In 1986, the Jefferson National Mint (with an advertised Washington, DC address) marketed silver and gold Double Eagle rounds in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty (SoL).1986 Silver Liberty Double Eagle
The obverse of the bullion medal presents a full-length portrait of Lady Liberty
/ the Goddess of Liberty
holds a Torch of Freedom aloft in her right hand while cradling a tablet in her left. A radiant sun is seen rising in the background.
The reverse of the bullion medal features two bald eagles, one large, one small. The dominant eagle figure is standing with up-swept wings. It clutches arrows in its right talon and olive branches in its left (the reverse of the eagle on the US Great Seal). In its beak is seen a ribbon with the words "SAECULLIM LIBERATIS" which translates to English as "The Age of Freedom." The second eagle of the "double" is much smaller and is depicted standing on a perch above the primary eagle; rays of light emanate from behind it.
The design is intended to be reminiscent of Liberty
as portrayed by the Statue of Liberty, down to the seven spires seen on the coronet Liberty
is wearing. (I believe its obverse design also resembles the obverse of the then newly-introduced American Silver Eagle (ASE) bullion coin of the US Mint - originally designed by Adolph Weinman
for the 1916-47 Walking Liberty half dollar
.American Silver Eagle (ASE) Bullion Coin
The one-ounce Double Eagle silver piece was offered in proof and uncirculated versions. The proof had a listed maximum mintage of 17,500; mintage for the uncirculated piece was said to be capped at 30,000. The proof edition was available for $35.00 each (plus $1.50 postage and handling); the uncirculated edition sold for $25.00 each (plus $1.50 P&H).
The Jefferson Mint ran into trouble with the US Treasury Department over its advertising for its Double Eagle rounds/medals. At the time, the US Mint was actively marketing its 1986 Statue of Liberty commemorative coins (a CuNi-clad half dollar, a 0.900 fine silver dollar and a 0.900 fine gold half eagle), plus it had just launched the new one-ounce American Silver Eagle (ASE) program. The Treasury/Mint argued that the Jefferson Mint's advertising was deceptive in that it did not clearly enough distinguish between the Mint's legal tender coins and its bullion medals. It believed the deceptive advertising led some people to purchase the bullion medals from the Jefferson Mint believing that they were buying official US Government coins vs. medals struck by a private, for-profit company. Of course, with a name like "The Jefferson Mint" and a Washington, DC address, the motives of the company were fairly transparent.
A key sticking point was the fact that the Jefferson Mint's ads for its Double Eagle rounds touted how every order would receive a free US Mint medal; a small, bronze Thomas Jefferson medal from the Mint's Presidential Series. By highlighting the Jefferson
medal from the US Mint, the Jefferson
Mint was clearly hoping that potential buyers would link its Double Eagle rounds to the US Mint. Definitely a potential source of confusion.
The Jefferson Mint eventually backed down and agreed to send letters to those who had purchased the bullion medals from them, informing them of their non-legal tender status and giving them the option of returning the medals for a full refund. I've never seen numbers published on how many pieces were returned, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the figure was a minority percentage of those sold.
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals,check out: Commems Collection