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Pilots, planes on gold medal

For the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee Oct. 14, there were the obvious design choices for two upcoming congressional gold medals and the not so obvious choices.

Members of the Commission of Fine Arts Oct. 15 felt the same way, but made different choices.

Getting overwhelming approval from members of the CCAC through the panel’s method of awarding points to designs under consideration were proposed obverse and reverse designs for the Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gold medal.

For the obverse, gaining 21 of 24 possible points, was a woman pilot climbing from the cockpit of a plane.

The reverse recommendation garnered all 24 possible points. It shows American warplanes in flight with the legend “The First Women in History to Fly American Military Aircraft.”

Alternative obverse designs depicted a three-quarter profile of a woman pilot dominating one design while three pilots in a variety of garb are shown walking from a plane on the other.

Chairman Mitch Sanders said, “For the obverse of the WASP medal, some members felt that the portrayal on design 2 (the three-quarter profile) was reminiscent of Hollywood, and that the image on design 3 appeared to be somewhat contrived.

He stressed, “members appreciated the clarity of the aviation theme on design 1, the favored design.

For the WASP reverse, design 1 was unanimously considered far superior to design 2.

The second reverse design was a set of WASP wings.

Members of the CFA like the “Hollywood” obverse design and “requested some changes” on the reverse choice, said Thomas Luebke, CFA secretary.

Though the CFA liked the flying airplanes, the members did not like the treatment of the wings. Some went outside of the border and some were clipped by the border. The CFA wants to see a continuously round border with all of the wings either within it or going beyond it. The CFA also did not like the wings at the bottom in its own space apart from the other portion of the design.
Luebke said the CFA members thought the wings should float within the design.

The CCAC votes split more closely when it came to the designs for the Constantino Brumidi gold medal. He was a painter of works for the interior of the Capitol in Washington in the 19th century.

For the obverse, taking 18 points was design No. 2. Taking 12 points was design No. 1, which was another full-facing portrait of the artist.

The CFA wanted to see a composite of the two. The members liked the composition of obverse design No. 1, but preferred the portrait itself in design No. 2.

For the reverse, the CCAC choice was easier.

Sanders said, “For the Brumidi reverse, John Alexander (the CCAC member appointed based on special expertise in American history) argued that the quotation attributed to Brumidi on designs 1 and 3 was not supported by sufficient historical evidence, and on that basis, these designs did not receive any points from the committee.

“Members generally preferred the iconic image of the ‘Apotheosis of Washington’ for the medal’s reverse, the famous artwork that appears on the inside of the Capitol’s dome.

The work surrounds the simple statement, “Artist of the Capitol.”

Coming in with nine points was reverse design No. 4 with two allegorical figures.

The CFA members chose reverse design No. 1, but suggested that the “Artist of the Capitol” legend be used instead of the lengthy quotation.

Recommendations of the CCAC and the CFA go the Treasury secretary as advisory, nonbinding recommendations. The secretary makes the ultimate decision.

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