Lady Liberty is one of the most enduring American symbols. Her best-known depiction stands in New York Harbor, a statuesque gift from France in 1886, but her origins probably go back a century earlier. In the 1700s, “Columbia,” as she was known, represented freedom for the United States in its formative years -- and she was always depicted as a white woman of European descent. However, in April 2017, Lady Liberty will be depicted for the first time as an African-American woman on a new commemorative gold coin available from the United States Mint. The coin will have a face value of $100 USD and will mark the 225th anniversary of the Mint’s history of coin production. But don’t expect to see the coins in general circulation -- they’re typically of interest only to collectors.
The first in a series of new ladies:
- The 24-karat gold coins will each weigh about an ounce (28 g). Depending on the value of gold, which was more than $1,000 USD an ounce in early 2017, they’ll sell for much more than face value.
- The coin’s obverse side shows a profile of Lady Liberty with a crown of stars holding back her hair. The reverse shows an eagle in flight.
- Future coins in the series will variously depict Lady Liberty as an Asian-American, Hispanic-American, and Indian-American woman, “to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States,” the Mint said.