Is it time for a new design for the reverse of the silver American Eagle one-ounce bullion coin?
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee thinks so, and has recommended a new eagle design to the U.S. Mint.
Its selection came after considering 44 design possibilities that were narrowed to 16, which received close scrutiny during an April 8 teleconference meeting.
The selection of design No. 41, which features a side view of an eagle in flight with an olive branch in its talons, followed more than an hour of discussion.
The issue is whether the U.S. “has the best image on our sovereign assurance to the world of bullion collectors,” said CCAC member Erik Jansen.
“We have a bullion coin that carries the sovereign assay, assurance and guarantee of the U.S. government that it is the purity and content that it portrays to be,” Jansen said.
The bullion coin is used worldwide, he said, and stays in people’s possession for a long time.
Because of that, the design on the coin “must show the very core of what this country stands for,” he said.
Over the past three years, the CCAC’s annual report has recommended a change to the silver American Eagle one-ounce bullion coin’s reverse.
By law, a coin design cannot be changed more often than once every 25 years, unless mandated by Congress. The current design has been used for 28 years.
Committee Chairman Gary Marks said that last month the committee reviewed designs for the U.S. Marshal’s 225th anniversary commemorative coin and was presented with some wonderful American eagles in the design work.
With those designs in hand, and designs from other programs over the past years, now seemed the right time to focus on a new design, he said.
Because the designs were created for other series, Marks noted that the inscriptions would be replaced with the mandated inscriptions for the silver American Eagle one-ounce bullion coin.
Member Michael Bugeja said he was drawn to symbolic eagle designs with the eagle in flight holding a laurel or arrows and designs that speak to power and peace.
Member Michael Olson called design No. 41 “clear and away the winner and will receive my full support.”
Olson said he prefers to see images that put more emphasis on the eagle and less on shields and other design devices.
“The eagle should be a full eagle, a strong eagle, and take up most of the space in the field,” Olson said. “I prefer not to see a posed eagle.”
He likened the eagle on design No. 41 to the eagle on the reverse of the Gobrecht silver dollars minted from 1836-1839.
Board member Michael Moran noted that the eagle on design No. 41 is flying on a level plane, while the Gobrecht eagle is on a rising plane.
He suggested rotating the die slightly to give the eagle a sense of flight.
Member Jeanne Stevens-Sollman named designs No. 40 and 41 as her favorites, noting that she too would like to see the eagle rising on design No. 41.
Member Robert Hogue liked design No. 41’s similarity to the Gobrecht design and felt it was a good counterpart to the Walking Liberty design on the obverse.
“I think we are heading in the right direction,” said member Heidi Wastweet of design No. 41.
She suggested some design variations, noting the eagle’s beak is crowded toward the edge of the coin. She would also add arrows to the olive branch the eagle carries to symbolize strength and peace.
“A lot of these designs are old friends of ours,” said member Donald Scarinci.
Although he preferred design No. 41, he also gave tribute to the circular patterning of design No. 4 and the way the eagle embraces the coin in design No. 22.
Jansen was not a fan of design No. 41, pointing to the beak crowding the edge of the coin, static laurel branches that should be blowing back at the tips and an overall look that seems more European 1910 than America 2014.
He asked members to consider design No. 24, which has an eagle poised in front of the flag, No. 23, which has a silhouette of an eagle’s head and No. 19, which has two eagles flying and a lot of negative space.
For member Thomas Uram, none of the new designs would be appropriate for the reverse of the bullion coin, although he would consider a change to the proof coin when the 30th anniversary of the coin is marked in 2016.
“I’m totally against any change in the bullion coin,” Uram said. “It’s recognized worldwide.”
Although there was some interest in sending more than one design for consideration to the U.S.. Mint, a motion for that action failed to pass.
“The Weinman Walking Liberty may be one of the greatest designs ever,” Marks said. “Whatever we do, this coin has to be fabulous and has to look like it belongs to that iconic image. I think this (No. 41) is the one.”
Marks said that the No. 41 design will be sent to the U.S. Mint with the CCAC’s rcommendation and a request that it be reviewed by Mint artists who will take into account the concerns about the design raised by committee members and return new, altered designs to the CCAC. The formal approval process would then be followed, including obtaining input from the Commission of Fine Arts.
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