The first copper-nickel clad half dollar commemorative depicts the United States’ heritage as a nation of immigrants. The obverse, designed by Edgar Steever, pictures a ship of immigrants steaming into New York Harbor, with the Statue of Liberty greeting them in the foreground and the New York skyline in the distance. The reverse, designed by Sherl Joseph Winter, has a scene of an immigrant family with their belongings on the threshold of America.
Designed by Mint artist John Mercanti, the Statue of Liberty silver dollar commemorates Ellis Island as the “Gateway to America.” The obverse features a classic pose of Liberty in the foreground, with the Ellis Island Immigration Center behind her. On the reverse is a depiction of Liberty’s torch, along with the words GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE.
The commemorative half eagle was also the first of this denomination to be minted in more than 50 years. Standards for weight and size are the same as for previous half eagle gold coins: weight, 8.539 grams; composition, .900 gold, .100 copper (net weight .2418 oz. pure gold). The design is the creation of the Mint’s chief engraver, Elizabeth Jones. The obverse features a compelling close-up view of Liberty’s face in sharp relief, with the inscription 1986 LIBERTY. An eagle in flight adorns the reverse. All were minted at West Point and bear the W mintmark.