Two images of a modern Liberty will be sent to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew for consideration as the obverse of a 2015 24-karat High Relief $75 gold coin.
The Commission of Fine Arts liked both a design of an African-American woman’s face and an image of a woman in a flowing gown of undetermined ethnicity holding a torch and American flag. They are designs HR-O-03-C and 11-C.
So CFA Secretary Thomas Luebke suggested at the Jan. 22 meeting that both designs be presented for the gold coin, which will also be offered as a silver medal.
“We have done that in the past,” Luebke said, “so it wasn’t that unusual.”
The coin will be 1 troy ounce of gold, comparable to the 2009 UHR Saint-Gaudens double eagle gold coin, though it will have a larger diameter and not be as thick.
The new gold coin’s diameter is expected to match the Kennedy half dollar’s 30.6 mm. The 2009 UHR Saint-Gaudens was 27mm.
The same design will be placed on a silver medal. It will be larger than the companion gold coin, providing the opportunity to showcase the intricacy of the design features and the beauty of the artwork. A silver medal would also make the design accessible to various ranges of collectors.
Obverse designs depict the artist’s interpretation of a “modern” Liberty. Required inscriptions for the gold coin are “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “2015.” The corresponding silver medal requires the inscription “2015,” with the optional inscription “Liberty.”
Luebke said that while the CFA generally appreciated the modern presentation of Liberty as mandated by Congress, some of the images seemed to present tension between a modern depiction of the figure presented in clothes and poses that belong to a classical language.
Commission member Philip Freelon, who has advocated for more diversity on American coins, was pleased with the number of images depicting people of color, Luebke said.
But some of the members felt that the sexuality portrayed in some of the designs approached inappropriateness, Luebke said.
Commission members Mia Lehrer and Elizabeth Meyer felt some of the designs were offensive, he noted, although they did not single out any specific designs.
The CFA also recommended two designs for the reverse, HR-R-01-C and 10-C, which feature an eagle. The first design was a favorite of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee as a candidate for another coin.
Design No. 1 features an eagle in flight carrying an olive branch. If chosen by Lew, the CFA asked that the proportion between the eagle and branch be addressed. Design No. 10 portrays a more contemporary eagle on an oak branch.
Required inscriptions for the gold coin are “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “1 oz.,” “.9999 Fine Gold,” and the denomination. The corresponding silver medal may optionally depict the inscription “United States of America.”
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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