Capping Liberty

The Invention of Numismatic Iconography for the New American Republic

The Eagle: The Flip Side of Liberty

The 1792 Mint Authorization Act mandated that an eagle be placed on the reverse of all precious metal denominations. Like the image of Liberty, the eagle as a coin type had many classical and early modern precedents. Its associations, however, were with military and imperial might rather than ideals of independence and republicanism. It became an American national symbol largely through its selection, after a long series of deliberations by successive congressional committees, as the main device on the Great Seal.