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Community Voice Responses (06/11/13)

From the May 17 Numismatic News e-newsletter:

Should the U.S. Mint hold more open competitions to design U.S. coins?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

At the New Orleans ANA I talked with a woman from the U.S. Mint who is heavily involved with the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Design activities. She said they had not reached the 10,000 limit on designs for the coin and had extended the ending time for the 13 and under children to submit their artwork.

I specifically urged that the U.S. Mint do more public coin design competitions. She said that with the sequestration cuts that even managing the current contest was proving to be a real problem. She had the attitude that design contests were a problem to be avoided rather than a tool for publicizing and expanding public demand for profitable commemoratives. Spoken like a true bureaucrat.

We didn’t discuss, but I would think that those interested in the theme of the coin to be designed might be able to plunk down funds to cover labor and overhead costs to run future design competitions. If it cost maybe $25,000 to do so, I would expect that the Hall of Fame just might have been able to find that in their budget. If it was a standard feature of future coin designs that the design costs had to be privately subsidized, I think that would not be much of a problem.

My two cents worth.

Patrick A. Heller
Lansing, Mich.

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Mint was offered an opportunity to respond.

Contrary to the thoughts expressed in Mr. Heller’s note, the Mint has been absolutely delighted to be involved in supporting and promoting the activities associated with the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame design. We realistically had no intent to receive 10,000 designs. That number was never how many submissions we anticipated. It was simply the upper most limit of what the system could feasibly support (e.g., resource considerations, timeline, etc.).

The truth of the matter is that the Mint is extremely pleased with the submissions it received. I’ve seen many of them, and I can say unequivocally that the judges are going to have a very difficult time choosing the winner. Clearly, the metaphor “quality over quantity” is an appropriate way to characterize the submissions. We have the fullest confidence that the winning design will proudly capture the game of baseball. One of things that the Mint prides itself on is that its products capture the history, traditions and culture of our nation. And baseball represents all three elements. Additionally, the opportunity to make curved coins for this program will showcase the Mint as the world-class organization that it is.

It should also be pointed out that the Mint’s baseball coin design competition website received nearly 65,000 visitors and over 95,000 hits during the span of the competition. The Kids’ Challenge site has thus far received over 17,000 visitors and over 27,000 hits. Potential new numismatists? Potential customers? That remains to be seen, of course, but the men and women of the Mint are proud to be part of this exciting program.

Tom Jurkowsky
Director of Public Affairs
United States Mint

 

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