The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service will be paid tribute in 2016 with the issuance of three commemorative coins.
Designs for a $5 gold coin, silver dollar and clad half dollar were reviewed in late June by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and Commission of Fine Arts in separate meetings held in Washington, D.C.
The CCAC preferred obverse design No. 10 for the $5 gold coin. It features portraits of President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir.
CCAC Chairman Mary Lannin said the committee felt the image of the two men standing shoulder to shoulder, looking to the right, was representative of their work to preserve the land.
The CFA also selected a design featuring Roosevelt and Muir, according to CFA Secretary Tom Luebke.
It preferred obverse design No. 1, which depicts Muir and Roosevelt hiking in Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in the background. However, Commission members felt Muir should be emphasized in the design because of his pioneer work in land preservation.
Luebke said CFA staff members suggested that transposing the images of the men on obverse design No. 10, which the CCAC and parks liaison preferred, or on obverse design No. 3, which shows the men looking to the left with Half Dome in the background. That suggestion was added to the CFA recommendation submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury.
Both the CCAC and CFA endorsed reverse design No. 3 that features the National Park Service logo, which is shaped like an arrowhead.
“All of us really liked the fact that it seemed you were looking through the logo to the mountain in the background,” Lannin said.
The silver dollar was the most difficult to select designs for, Lannin said. In the end, the CCAC selected for the obverse a design presented among the choices for the reverse.
It paired reverse design No. 2 for the obverse with reverse design No. 5.
The obverse design features a Latino Folklorico dancer to show the human cultural experience that can be found in America’s national parks. It also contains a small image of the National Park Service logo and the inscription “Heritage,” “Culture” and “Pride.”
CCAC member Gary Marks suggested pairing the dancer with her swirling skirt with reverse design No. 5, which depicts a trumpet, bass headstock and a banjo typical of the jazz music heard in New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
Marks felt the curves and swirls of the designs play off each other, Lannin said.
“The stakeholders are trying to get people to think beyond Yosemite or Yellowstone when thinking about national parks,” Lannin said.
The CFA endorsed obverse design No. 3, the preference of the park service liaison, according to Luebke.
It features Old Faithful and a bison in the foreground and contains the inscriptions “National Park Service Centennial” and 1916-2016.
Luebke said that CFA members asked for refinement of the image of the geyser and a more dynamic representation of the bison.
The CFA chose reverse No. 2, the image of the Latino Folklorico dancer, which the CCAC chose for the obverse. Members asked that the park service emblem and the banner draping the dancer be eliminated for a cleaner composition, Luebke said.
For the clad half dollar, the CCAC went back to the designs intended for the silver coin and chose silver obverse design No. 2. It features a boy holding binoculars encircled by a bison, the Brooklyn Bridge and a microscope, which represent the various facets of the National Park Service and its programs.
Lannin said the CCAC wanted to emphasize the learning aspect of the parks; they aren’t all about camping.
It paired it with reverse design No. 3, which depicts a full body view of a dinosaur skeleton as may be seen at the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.
“How cool is that to have a dinosaur on a coin?” Lannin said. “I think this is a great choice.
CCAC members also liked reverse design No. 8, which featured a close up of a ladybug on a leaf.
“We liked the contrast, looking at a leaf and seeing a ladybug, but dinosaurs won the day,” Lannin said.
The CFA endorsed obverse design No. 10 for the clad half dollar, Luebke said.
The image features the National Park Service logo and the inscriptions “Preservation,” “Education” and “1916.” It was the design preferred by the park service.
For the reverse of the clad half dollar, the CFA chose reverse design No. 9 and 9A, which depict hands holding a conifer, symbolizing natural resources of the parks being passed from one generation to the next.
The National Park Service was founded on Aug. 25, 1916, “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
An agency of the Department of the Interior, it oversees 84 million acres of land, including 59 national parks and other properties and national monuments.
A surcharge of $35 per gold coin, $10 per silver coin and $5 per half dollar clad coin will benefit the National Park Foundation for projects that help preserve natural resources and promote public enjoyment of those resources. Funds will not be used for land acquisition.
Mintages are set at up to 100,000 for the $5 gold coins, 500,000 for the silver dollars and no more than 750,000 for the clad half dollars.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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