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Viewpoint: Want new coin designs? Tell Congress

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By Erik N. Jansen

Thanks to Bob Olekson!

I saw the “Viewpoint” article you published by Bob Olekson and found myself nodding in agreement again and again.

[In that article Olekson, said that “to revitalize the hobby we need new themes and new designs on all our coins and paper money.”]

Want new coin designs? Tell Congress

Want new coin designs? Tell Congress

And as a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee associated with the U.S. Mint, I felt I wanted to continue the dialogue by adding some of my own thoughts and insights. I believe it is wonderful that these things can be discussed in an open and free flowing environment of interested collectors! As the advice always goes, invest in the education first. And so I wanted to add some information to that process.

First of all, it doesn’t take a genius to come to the conclusion that Bob does – so much of the fun in sorting the day’s pocket change has disappeared with the elimination of silver, significant relief, interesting or classic artwork or designs and the perceived possibility of finding a key or even semi-key issue in there. I wish there was a way to undo some of that lost pleasure. I’ve been a collector myself for most of my all of my 58 years.

But, some of his ideas are happening! First, in space. There is an active dialogue on Capitol Hill for a 2019 Commem series for the 50th anniversary of men walking on the moon. Seriously, please do write your congressmen and women.

After all, with only a few exceptions, the Mint does Congress’ bidding in issuing commemorative coins that carry unique designs and features (like a curved planchet or special artwork) and other than in the case of some finishes, gold and other bullion issues, the Mint has very little latitude at its discretion. But in my experience of the last three years of service on the CCAC, when Congress says jump, the Mint staff does so – and to increasing heights its seems to me.

Bob, we have you covered on Mark Twain as well. When the CCAC meets in about a month in Portland, Ore., at the ANA Money Show (See the ANA program online or go to Room E150 in the Oregon Convention Center from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.), I believe we will be discussing the design and artwork directions and technical issues of that coming commemorative program. It’s already approved by Congress and is slated as a 2016 Mint product.

And by the way, there is also a two-hour public comment session on the ANA agenda for the next morning sponsored by the CCAC. Some Mint folks may be there as well, but it is a CCAC event). It is in Room E149 from 9-11 a.m. Please come and tell us your opinions, dreams, rants, raves, or whatever is on your mind. All of it. We want to listen to you and help share what we do and how we (can) do more of it.

Further, we just finished working with the Mint to incorporate the Theodore Roosevelt golden dollar into an interesting offering targeting new collectors and the educational mission. I personally think that all in, with an educational write-up, a silver presidential medal restrike and a few other stamps and numismatic items alongside an educational piece, it is well done.

And there is one for his cousin, FDR, as well. Just look on the newly redone Mint website for that as well. Plus, when the CCAC met just last week to discuss and draft the background specifications for artistic direction for the upcoming (again, Congressionally mandated) National Park Service commemorative coin program, Teddy Roosevelt was again front and center as a potential feature design element as the nation’s first and hardest charging Conservationist in Chief at the time.

Finally, as one may have also read, the CCAC last week, meeting in Washington, continued its ongoing encouragement of the Mint – in the strongest way we have within our advisory role - to consider minting a Liberty-themed “One Union” gold coin. That’s the original name for a $100 face value bullion coin first included on U.S. prototype coinage in 1877. Not familiar? There is a U.S. Mint-struck half union ($50) proof trial specimen in the ANA collection in Colorado Springs.

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That new Mint product would be historic, ground (re) breaking and not simply another “dead president” coin as Bob puts it. It may be a bit controversial, but putting Liberty back on our coinage as the key image is an idea that many of the Committee members have heard from friends and collectors over the last few years. And we are trying to make it happen – in this case with an additional silver eagle-sized bullion medal as a side offering alongside the proposed gold union Liberty coin.

So, thank you Bob (and Mark) for speaking up and David Harper for printing it all, including our address. Let’s get the dialogue turned up on these things.

As but one committee within the government’s bulwark, we cannot do everything. And while frustrating, yes, it always takes longer to put ideas into action than we may like, but it is our country and our Mint and our CCAC.

Tell us what you think. We will try to do the best job we can to help make it happen. See you in Portland at the ANA Money show next month (if you can come).

This “Viewpoint” was written by Erik N. Jansen of Mercer Island, Wash.
He says the views he expresses here are explicitly his own and not in any way attributable to the U.S. Mint or any U.S. government agency or regular employee.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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