Make it simple. Make it proportional. Make it beautiful.
That sounds like the message the Commission of Fine Arts was sending the U.S. Mint when it reviewed coin and medal designs at its Feb. 16 meeting.
Overall, the CFA was disappointed in the designs presented, said CFA Secretary Thomas Luebke.
Although it recommended a design for the America the Beautiful quarter honoring Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, it could find no design it could endorse among the candidates for the quarter honoring Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland.
The design selected for Ohio was preferred because of the simplicity and elegance of its composition, Luebke said.
It clearly focused on the memorial column as the primary iconic element of the park.
As for the other design candidates for Ohio, they included too many elements that were often out of scale, Luebke said. The Ohio design selected was “least problematic,” he noted.
The CFA could find no designs it could recommend among the 11 presented for the Maryland quarter. It was the second time a selection of designs had come before the commission.
Luebke said the commission members reiterated their request for a plan view of the fort emphasizing its iconic five-sided shape.
Rather than select one of the six obverse and one of the six reverse design candidates for the Congressional gold medal that will honor the Montford Point Marines, the first Marine unit made up of African Americans, the CFA recommended a combination of designs.
It requested that an obverse design of four Marines looking in profile to the left be simplified by removing a group of leaping soldiers from the bottom of the design. It suggested an alternative design of three Marines looking to the right be used as a model for further developing the Marines’ faces shown in profile.
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For the reverse, CFA members proposed the “dynamic scene” of leaping soldiers be used with the overall composition of a design of Marines marching in formation with the words “For Outstanding Perseverance and Courage that Inspired Social Change in the Marine Corps” along with the dates 1942 to 1946 and “Act of Congress 2011.”
CFA members were adamant that the faces of the Marines on the medal accurately depict the African American Marines being honored and not merely be generic renderings, Luebke said.
When it came time to select designs for the medal honoring Dr. Muhammad Yunus, CFA members commented on the “generally unsatisfactory quality of the drawings,” Luebke said.
They expressed displeasure with the portrait of Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and “banker to the poor,” as well as reverse images of human and animal figures, Luebke said.
The portrait recommended was “less problematic” than the others presented, Luebke said, but the CFA suggested it include a background pattern.
Many of the designs for the reverse included images depicting the poor women of Southeast Asia that Yunus assisted, but CFA members felt many of the images looked like Caucasian women.
The design recommended features a lotus blossom and globe, although CFA members suggested they be reduced in size, Luebke said.