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High-relief eyed for 2015

If you liked the 2009 Ultra High Relief double eagle gold coin, you’re going to love a 2015 24-karat Ultra High Relief gold coin.

At least that’s what the U.S. Mint hopes.

Although still in the proposal stage, the project got a unanimous thumbs up from the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee when it met via teleconference July 22.

On April 8, the CCAC recommended a new eagle design for the reverse of the American Eagle silver 1-ounce coin.

Instead, the Mint is recommending that the eagle design proposed by the CCAC be showcased on a 2015 24-karat gold UHR coin, said April Stafford, U.S Mint director of the Office of Design Management.

The new eagle would feature on the reverse of the 2015 UHR coin

The new eagle would feature on the reverse of the 2015 UHR coin

And to complement that reverse, the Mint would consider featuring a modern rendition of Liberty on the obverse.

The coin would be 1 troy ounce, comparable to the 2009 UHR double eagle gold coin.

“If produced, 2015 24-karat gold Ultra High Relief coins could be viewed as a follow-up to the 2009 double eagle Ultra High Relief, contrasting classic American coin design with modern American coin design,” Stafford said.

Obverse of the 2009 Ultra High Relief gold coin

Obverse of the 2009 Ultra High Relief gold coin

Reverse of the 2009 Ultra High Relief gold coin

Reverse of the 2009 Ultra High Relief gold coin

The Mint also proposes producing the same design on a larger silver medal providing the opportunity to showcase the intricacy of the design features and the beauty of the artwork, Stafford said

A silver medal would also make the design accessible to various ranges of collectors, she said.

The Mint would have to seek approval from the secretary of the U.S. Treasury to strike the gold coin and silver medal, Stafford noted.

CCAC Chairman Gary Marks said the proposal for a gold UHR coin with a modern design brings former Mint Director Ed Moy’s vision for UHR coins full circle.

In 2008, Moy wanted the Mint to go back to the failed effort in 1907 to produce a UHR of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle coin on a 27 millimeter planchet.

“At that time in 1907, the ability of the Mint to strike that coin wasn’t there. Moy wanted to accomplish that,” Marks said.

Hence, the 2009 gold UHR.

“I remember him announcing that once that was accomplished he hoped future UHR gold coins could be produced with modern coin designs on them.”

This proposal keeps the Mint on track with that plan, he said.

“I personally am very excited about what’s been proposed here, a gold coin and a silver medal,” Marks said.

CCAC member Michael Bugeja called the proposal “a lovely concept that’s going to bring in more and more people to the hobby.”

It’s just the product, he said, that can get some bullion collectors into appreciating the beauty of coins.

Marks said that although the images the U.S. Mint provided as possible designs for the new coin – the eagle endorsed by the CCAC last April and Liberty from the Saint-Gaudens double eagle, he hoped the committee would be allowed to look at designs that show more than an updated forward walking Liberty.”

He asked that the artists “pull out of their souls what Liberty may look like in the 21st century.”

CCAC member Erik Jansen asked that edge lettering be included on the coin, but noting problems with the lettering on the 2009 UHR coin, he asked that the process be paid a little more attention this time.

The proposal of an UHR gold coin for 2015 is an historic initiative by the Mint, said CCAC member Donald Scarinci.

“History may well consider the decision to make this coin as the fulfillment of the promise that Ed Moy made at the FIDEM conference in Colorado Springs in 2007,” he said.

Moy, as Mint director, told representatives of 32 countries that he promised a neo-renaissance in American coin design, Scarinci said.

“I was hopeful,” he said. “There was a lot of electricity in the room and for some time after hope and expectation that we would begin to see the kind of beautiful designs that are being produced in many other countries of the world.”

Moy’s decision to remake the Augustus Saint-Gaudens design was in his mind the closing of one era in American coin design in order to begin a new era of American coin design, he said.

“Since that event, up until very recently, that was a promise unfulfilled,” Scarinci said.

But in the past few years, the CCAC has seen some very beautiful designs and some really good American art, he said.

“But what’s important is what is really going on in that atelier in Philadelphia,” he said. “There is an energy among the Mint artists; there is competition. The vision at the Mint today and the leadership is nurturing and encouraging. The artists are doing exactly what we had hoped and expected with the blueprint for improved coin designs we voted on a few years ago.”

This is a bold initiative by the Mint, he said, that brings with it a lot of hope in the art and collector community.

As for direction as to what the image of Liberty should look like, Scarinci said he didn’t want to give any instruction that would in any way inhibit the artists.

“Be bold, be creative. Consider images of Liberty for the 21st century,” Scarinci said.

CCAC member Michael Moran called the proposal a home run.

But he cautioned against demanding an ultra high relief design.

“Ultra high relief, that has a specific connotation within the numismatic community,” he said. “A relief equivalent to Saint-Gaudens. If you are seeking ultra high relief to that definition you will limit your designs. Leave the depth of relief to the artistic model.”

Moran did suggest the planchet size be 34 millimeters, the size of the 1907 gold coin, rather than the 27 millimeters of the 2009 coin.

“It gives artists more room to work with,” he said.

Marks encouraged the Mint to strike a balance between relief and use of a full- size double eagle planchet.

“You are going to get a more beautiful coin and allow better detail,” he said. “I think that’s the next step to capture people’s imagination with this gold coin.”

And by unanimous vote, the CCAC offered its endorsement and support for the Mint’s proposal of a 2015 Ultra High Relief gold coin paired with a matching silver medal.

“This is an historic moment for the U.S. Mint,” marks said.