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Commission of Fine Arts Makes Recommendations for Coin Designs

The Commission of Fine Arts met on April 18 for their monthly meeting.  Among the agenda items was the review of the 2020 Mayflower 400th Anniversary Coin Program, which includes designs for a 24-karat gold coin and silver medal.  In a letter dated April 25, 2019, to Mr. David Ryder, United States Mint Director, the Commission shared their recommendations.

Consistent with the preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), the Commission members recommended for the gold coin alternative 06-GC-O for the obverse and 07-GC-O for the reverse. As part of the necessary coordination of text for this pairing, they suggested that the inscriptions “Liberty” and “In God We Trust” be placed on the reverse in association with the Pilgrims, rather than on the obverse depicting a Native American family.  For the silver medal, the Commission members recommended alternative 04A-SM-O for the obverse and 11-SM-R for the reverse; they commented that this pairing effectively conveys the theme of survival, contrasting the vulnerability of the newly arrived Pilgrims with the self-sufficiency of the Native Americans.

Also on the agenda for that meeting was a review of the candidate designs for the 2019 American Innovation $1 Coin.  In a separate letter, also dated April 25, 2019, to Mr. David Ryder, the Commission shared their recommendations for the alternative reverse designs to be paired with the common obverse that was reviewed in September 2018.  Their recommendations by state, as noted in the letter, were as follows:

Delaware. Consistent with the preferences of the CCAC and the governor’s office, the Commission members recommended alternative #5, depicting a profile of astronomer Annie Jump Cannon; they described the composition as abstract and elegant. They expressed concern that the profile may be difficult to discern in contrast to the coin’s background of the night sky, and they, therefore, requested that the depth and detailing be carefully sculpted to ensure that Cannon’s profile portrait is clear.


Pennsylvania. Consistent with the preferences of the CCAC and the governor’s office, the Commission members recommended alternative #11, depicting a microscope and geometric forms related to the development of a polio vaccine, as the best design.



New Jersey. Consistent with the preferences of the governor’s office, the Commission members recommended either alternative #7 or #9. For alternative #7, depicting an early Edison light bulb, they suggested removing some or all of the surrounding filigree to allow the light bulb to be clearly legible as the central focus of the design. They cited alternative #9, a stylized depiction of a motion picture projector, as a strong graphic composition.

Georgia. Raising concern with the proposed theme of the Trustees’ Garden in Savannah, the Commission members did not recommend any of the submitted alternatives. They observed that the design alternatives for the Trustees’ Garden depict agricultural produce, and they questioned the appropriateness of an agricultural theme for this coin that does not recognize the historic plantation system supported by enslaved labor. They also suggested that a more appropriate theme could be the plan of Savannah itself, which is of special significance in the history of American urban design. They emphasized that their comments address the theme rather than the compositional quality of the submitted designs; they acknowledged the artistry of alternative #2, consistent with the CCAC preference.

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