“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” How these concepts are best represented on three platinum coin designs was the task at hand when the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee met Sept. 16.
Beginning in 2018, the U.S. Mint will issue a three-year proof platinum American Eagle series depicting the unalienable rights set forth in the Preamble of the United States Declaration of Independence. The obverse designs of the coins in the series will change from year to year while the reverse, an American eagle design, will remain consistent.
The obverse of the 2018 coin will represent “Life,” the 2019 coin will represent “Liberty” and the 2020 coin will represent “The Pursuit of Happiness.”
The CCAC considered sets of designs submitted by artists for all three years’ obverses. Most designers also submitted optional reverse designs of eagles to be considered with their obverse sets.
Artists were asked to develop designs that not only well represent each individual theme, but also work together to give expression to the American principles.
Required obverse inscriptions are “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum” and the year of issuance. Required reverse inscriptions are “United States of America,” “1 oz.,” “.9995 Platinum” and “$100.”
The set that garnered the most votes from CCAC members was Set 07. The designs portray Liberty planting seeds for future sustenance, lighting the way westward and harvesting the well-worked crops. The inscriptions “Life,” “Liberty,” and “Happiness” are likenesses of the handwritten words from the Declaration of Independence.
The committee agreed that the designs had continuity and were most representative of their respective themes, especially the pursuit of happiness, which many other designs failed to illustrate.
The members’ biggest concern with Set 07 was the fine detail included in the background of the designs that won’t translate well to the small canvas of a coin.
In addition to recommending that the background designs by simplified, the CCAC advised that the sword be removed from the 2018 design, that Liberty be made to look less stern in the 2020 design, and that the “Liberty” inscription be removed from the 2018 and 2020 designs.
The committee recommended that the inscription be moved to a coronet band on these two coins to remain in compliance with the obverse requirements. Members felt the inscription caused confusion since “Liberty” is also the theme of the 2019 coin.
A final recommendation for Set 07 was that the “Liberty” script on the 2019 design be changed to better fit the design.
The committee’s pick for the coins’ reverse was design REV-09. Members thought the eagle, depicted in flight with an olive branch in its talons, best represented the concept of freedom. The design’s sense of motion and depiction of the wingspan also drew admiration from the committee.
This three-year series will commence after a 20th anniversary design next year. The 2017 platinum proof Eagle will feature the same obverse and reverse designs used in 1997.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express.
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