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CCAC and CFA Make Recommendations on Basketball Coin

During its meeting on July 17, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) reviewed proposed obverse and reverse designs for the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Program.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, Public Law 115-343, calls for the combined production in Proof and Uncirculated versions of up to 50,000 $5 coins, 400,000 dollar coins and 750,000 half dollars.

The obverse design of each coin is to be concave, while the reverse will be convex, the same treatment used for the three-coin 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Program and three-coin 2019 Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program.

The CCAC reviewed 20 proposed designs for a common obverse which would be used on the $5 gold coin, silver dollar and copper-nickel clad half dollars.  The designs were the fruits of a legislated public design competition executed by the United States Mint.

In addition, 23 reverse designs were presented which were rendered by members of the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff and Artistic Infusion Program.  The reverse design is mandated to resemble a basketball.

During the review meeting, the topic of colorization being utilized on the coins was raised.  The Mint is considering the use of colorization techniques on two of the three coins, stated chief of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, April Stafford.  No specific plans on how the colorization could be pursued were finalized.

The CCAC voted on two motions – one to recommend a pairing of obverse and reverse designs as well as a secondary alternate pairing.  The second motion to consider pairing the alternate reverse with the primary obverse was rejected.

The two design renderings selected as the CCAC’s primary choice for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Program. (Images courtesy of the United States Mint)

The obverse selected by the committee was also one of the top five selected by the Basketball Hall of Fame.  The favored design “portrays the intense, hands-on action of the game of basketball — the constant struggle for possession of the ball and the skill required to overcome the opponent and put the ball through the hoop. The design features three different figures all reaching for the ball in unison, suggesting how the sport has brought together millions of diverse people around the world through a simple, universal, and unifying athletic experience. Their arms are intentionally elongated, just slightly, to emphasize the full exertion of physical and mental effort required to excel in the game. The rim and net are presented as subtle background elements to complement the primary figures.” According to the Mint’s design description: Depicted are a male, female and wheelchair athlete all engaging in competitive play.

The recommended reverse was not one of the four favored by the Hall of Fame. The CCAC-favored reverse presents a three-quarter profile view of a basketball.

The alternate obverse and reverse pairing suggests for the obverse a design that “depicts a slam dunk, one of the most exciting plays in the game. The perspective of the design accentuates the concavity of the athlete’s body as his legs come forward through the momentum of the dunk. The 60th anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is referenced with the number on the player’s jersey; the American roots of the game are indicated by the 13 stripes on the soles of each of the shoes.”

The second design pairing for the 2020 commemorative coin series recommended by the CCAC features an exciting slam dunk on the obverse with a jump ball situation on the reverse. (Images courtesy of the United States Mint)

The alternate reverse depicts two players, one male and one female, reaching for the basketball in a jump ball situation, set against the background of a basketball.

Ron Harrigal, manager of design and engraving for the Mint, says the Mint will likely have to adjust some of the design elements in whatever are the approved obverse and reverse designs, to execute coinability and extend die life. Harrigal said the Mint will also likely experiment with different levels of polishing and laser frosting to bring out the strongest details in each design.

It was recommended by CCAC member Erik Jansen that Mint officials inform Congress about design opportunities missed because of the mandated common obverse and common reverse for all three denominations, in a “one design fits all” sense.

Jansen said Congress could have also included a circulating coin component to help sell the whole program, having such a coin distributed at venues where the game is played to generate interest in coins and the sport.

The following day, July 18, the Commission of Fine Arts met and recommended the same common obverse (#19) as the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee chose for the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame three-coin commemorative coin program, but selected a different reverse design (#17) submission.

The CFA recommended the same obverse design as the CCAC, however, they suggested a different reverse which depicts a basketball entering the hoop. (Images courtesy of the United States Mint)

The recommended obverse is also the favored design of the Hall of Fame. It captures three players going for a basketball, with one of them in a wheelchair, capturing the inclusivity of the sport.

The 20 proposed obverse designs that were considered were created by artists who participated in a public competition conducted by the U.S. Mint.

The reverse design that the CFA recommended depicts a basketball just as it is descending through the hoop. Some refinements and changes were requested to the design.

In a letter to Mint Director David Ryder, CFA Assistant Secretary Frederick Lindstrom requested coordination of the fonts for the selected obverse and reverse designs.

He also requested alterations to the design stating, “They requested further refinement of reverse #17, questioning the excessive elongation of the players’ arms, which may not be resolved by simply projecting the flat drawing onto the coin’s curved surface; they also suggested that the basketball be placed equally beyond the reach of all three players. In addition, they requested coordination of the fonts for the selected obverse and reverse designs.”

The common obverse and reverse designs will be used for the gold $5 coin, silver dollar and copper-nickel clad half dollar.

The CFA considered 23 proposed designs rendered by the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff and Artistic Infusion Program.

The obverse and reverse designs which receive final approval by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or his designee will be sculpted for the die production process by members of the Mint’s engraving staff.

The approved designs are scheduled to be unveiled Sept. 6 at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, during the annual enshrinement ceremony.

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