During a meeting held on September 22nd, 2014, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) reviewed and discussed the designs for the 2015 and 2016 First Spouse Gold Coins issued to honor the spouses of the 33rd to 38th Presidents of the United States. The coins will feature Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Patricia Nixon, and Betty Ford.
In attendance at the meeting were Chairman Gary Marks, Dr. Michael Bugeja, Robert Hoge, Erik Jansen, Mary Lannin, Mike Moran, Donald Scarinci, Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, Thomas Uram, and Heidi Wastweet, as well as members of the U.S. Mint staff. At the beginning of the meeting, Deputy Director Richard Peterson swore in Dr. Herman Viola as the committee’s new specialist in American history.
When the committee has a large number of designs to discuss, it is common for the chairman to call for a culling of designs so that only those that are of interest to individual members are discussed. The results of this were as follows:
Bess Truman: obverse designs 2, 3, and 4; reverse designs 2, 3, and 6
Mamie Eisenhower: obverse design 5 (the de facto recommended design); reverse designs 3 and 4
Jacqueline Kennedy: obverse designs 2, 5, and 8; reverse designs 1 and 5
Lady Bird Johnson: obverse designs 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7; reverse designs 1, 3, and 8
Patricia Nixon: obverse designs 4, 5, and 7; reverse designs 3, 4, and 5
Betty Ford: obverse designs 1, 2, and 7; reverse designs 1, 3, 5, 6, 8
Bess Truman First Spouse Gold Coin
Michael Moran said that obverse design 3 was close to an autographed photograph of Mrs. Truman by the White House, and stated that to him, the diesel train in reverse design 3 denotes progress, whereas the wheels of a steam engine in reverse design 2 was from the past. Erik Jansen echoed the comments of Mr. Moran on obverse design 3, and was torn between reverse designs 2 and 3; he was not a fan of the imagery of Mrs. Truman campaigning for her husband. Chairman Marks saw reverse design 2 as unique for the First Spouse coin set, and noted the opportunity for a limited application of frosting to add definition. Heidi Wastweet indicated that obverse design 2 was the one she would most like to sculpt, and said that while the third and fourth obverse designs captured Mrs. Truman’s likeness better, they would not be better sculpts. She was also very excited about reverse design 2, noting the symbolism of working on the campaign trail as well as progress in industry. Jeanne Stevens-Sollman stated that obverse design 2 was the closest likeness, agreed with her colleagues on reverse design 2 , and closed with a comment that the bunting in reverse design 3 “seemed to stop the train”. Thomas Uram noted that the second obverse design looked more recessed than the third, and said that reverse design 2 was a “nice projection of symbolism”, calling it a “great approach”. Dr. Viola, in his first commenting session, indicated he did not have much to add, and agreed with the indicated preferences of his fellow committee members. Donald Scarinci was persuaded by Mr. Jansen toward favoring obverse design 3, and called reverse design 6 “a no-brainer”. Robert Hoge concurred with the previous comments. Dr. Bugeja indicated he favored obverse design 3 and reverse design 2, but was baffled at the selections made by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), which had recommended obverse design 2 and reverse design 4. Mary Lannin said that obverse design 3 was how Mrs. Truman represented her view of herself, and that obverse design 4 “looked too stern”, and called reverse design 2 “graphically, artistically powerful”.
Mamie Eisenhower First Spouse Gold Coin
Mr. Moran said he favored obverse design 5, and had no comment on the reverse designs. Mr. Jansen endorsed obverse design 5, and said he favored reverse design 3, commenting that the “I LIke Ike” campaign slogan was so notable. Chairman Mark gave kudos to the artist who created obverse designs 1 and 2, but had no strong preferences. He did not originally support reverse design 3, but the rest of committee has confused him; he wanted to ensure the text on the button was prominent. Ms. Wastweet complimented the artist of obverse design 5, but was not bowled over on the reverse designs. She said the button would have been better on a lapel, and indicated there was an anatomy issue with the wrist on reverse design 4. Ms. Stevens-Sollman agreed with Ms. Wastweet on the reverse designs, calling the third “bold and exciting”, whereas the fourth was “trying hard to capture the support of a military wife for her husband”. Mr. Uram liked reverse design 6 except for the wording, and was leaning towards the third and fourth, the latter more so. Dr. Viola called obverse design 5 “wonderful”. Mr. Scarinci called obverse design 5 another no-brainer, and stated that reverse design 3 “says it all, ‘I Like Ike’ worked, absolutely the way to go”. Mr. Hoge noted that obverse design 5 and reverse design 3 ‘seemed okay, a little bit too little”, and preferred reverse design 4. Dr. Bugeja said obverse design 5 was “fine”, and commented that Mrs. Eisenhower was born “15 miles from his house”; he noted that Mrs. Eisenhower was “never in competition with husband”; the holding of hands “actually symbolized their love”. Ms. Lannin asked if the button could be enlarged and hand reduced on reverse design 3.
Jacqueline Kennedy First Spouse Gold Coin
Mr. Moran said that obverse design 8 portrayed Mrs. Kennedy as “a confident First Lady”, and liked the image of the superimposed magnolia in reverse design 1. Mr. Jansen described obverse design 8 with the words “beauty, elegance, confidence”, and said reverse design 1 would be an “outstanding image with proper relief”. Chairman Marks was “taken, with some caution”, with obverse designs 2 and 8, but was leaning towards the latter; he liked reverse 1, but expressed some concern about creating contrast between the polished fields of the oceans and the highlighted land areas, and said the comedy/tragedy masks “look right”. Ms. Wastweet stated that obverse design 5 was “not reaching the benchmark of likeness”, said obverse 2 was “okay”, but had a strong preference for obverse design 8; she called reverse design 1 “really beautiful”, and said that it would sculpt well, and agreed with the contrast comments. She used the two words that Chairman Marks described as “dagger words” in regards to reverse design 5: clip art. Ms. Stevens-Sollman said the shading on obverse design 2 was confusing, but captured her likeness well, but not as well as obverse design 8, whose artist received congratulations; she called reverse design 1 “stunning and powerful”, and said she would not address reverse design 5. Mr. Uram indicated he was leaning toward obverse design 8 versus 2, calling it “more progressive” and “modern”; he praised reverse design for its distinguished symbolism, and said he believed the purchaser would be able to understand it; he finished by saying reverse design 5 “wasn’t right”. Dr. Viola liked obverse design 8 and reverse design 5, saying he would like to have a reverse design “reflective of arts or literature”. Mr. Scarinci called out the similarity with obverse design 5 and the famous JFK medal, and denoted reverse design 1 as a “no-brainer, exactly the kind of thing we’ve been asking for”. Mr. Hoge recalled seeing Mrs. Kennedy as she is depicted in obverse design 8, and said he needed “to see something that captures the essence” of the First Lady. Dr. Bugeja commented on obverse design 5, saying that the CFA “tends to like profiles more than CCAC”, and told the artists to “play with their mottos”. His most memorable comment was when he declared reverse design 5 as “the worst design in his history of membership” comparing it to “a page of clip art”. Ms. Lannin said that obverse design 8 looked like the First Lady to her: “beautiful, gracious, intelligent”, and wanted reverse design 5 to be better.
Lady Bird Johnson First Spouse Gold Coin
Mr. Moran said that obverse design 2 “softened her image”, and called reverse design 8 “a good clean feel”, commenting on its “good use of negative space”. Mr. Jansen indicated he was not fond of the hair in obverse design 3, and was drawn to support reverse design 5. Chairman Marks liked obverse design 3, but was not convinced it was her, and indicated he would be supporting obverse design 7 as it was a “better match to his memory”; he liked the contrasts in reverse design 1, and also liked reverse design 8. Ms. Wastweet expressed concern that attempting to transpose the hair from obverse design 5 onto design 3, as the CFA had commented be done, was “too much design by committee”, followed by stating she was leaning towards obverse design 7; she liked reverse design 1 and 3, calling it a “tough choice”, but felt that reverse design 8 was “not broad enough” to provide a sufficient insight into the impact Mrs. Johnson had on the beautification of the country. Ms. Stevens-Sollman noted that obverse design 5 was “most like her” from her memory, whereas obverse design 3 was “not quite”, and reverse design 3 was a “good ‘pop-out’ design”. Mr. Uram saw that Mrs. Johnson’s head was tilted somewhat in obverse design 2, and looked inquisitive, whereas obverse design 7 was “more straight-on”; he concluded with a comment that reverse 3 had “a lot to say”, reverse design 7 was “great, but too much interpretation”. Dr. Viola said he preferred obverse design 7 and liked reverse design 1. Mr. Scarinci called design by committee “evil”, and said obverse design 6 was a “good portrait”, and was pleased to see the the committee in sync with the positive comments about reverse design 3. Mr. Hoge was very direct: he liked obverse design 5 and reverse design 8, as Mrs. Johnson was the “blue bell of Texas”. Dr. Bugeja preferred obverse design 7, and called reverse design 3 a good design that would be “improved by adding depth of field, with frosting it could be a nice design”. Ms. Lannin remembered the hair from obverse design 5, but the face from obverse design 3, and said that reverse design 1 was the “traditional choice”. She closed her comments by jokingly asking if all the First Spouses had pearl necklaces from the same jewelry box.
Patricia Nixon First Spouse Gold Coin
Ms. Lannin indicated that obverse design 5 matched her vision of her, and called reverse design 5 “graphically and artistically interesting”. Dr. Bugeja said that obverse design 5 looked like a forced smile, whereas obverse design 7 had a real smile, and that she “deserves to have a real smile”. He also called reverse design 4 a “wonderful coin design”, noting that the depth of field was terrific, and was impressed by the “quilt of stick figures” on reverse design 5. Mr. Hoge called reverse design 4 the “strongest image, but liked patchwork quilt of [reverse design] 5”. Mr. Scarinci said that obverse design 5 was perfect “because of forced smile”, and loved reverse design 5, but really didn’t like reverse design 3. Dr. Viola found the concepts in reverse design 3 “difficult to convey”. Mr. Uram indicated he was leaning to obverse design 5 over 7, and felt that reverse design 4 had “great symbolism”. Ms. Stevens-Sollman saw a basket weave pattern in reverse design 5 as a “symbol of working with foreign countries”. Ms. Wastweet called obverse design 4 a “beautiful design”, with its sweeping hair and a jaw that shows ultimate dignity; she said reverse design 3 “resembled Lego figures”, called reverse design 5 an “attractive coin”, and liked reverse design 4. Chairman Marks found the stylistic technique in obverse design 4 “interesting”, and was surprised that Ms. Wastweet might support teeth in a portrait design, He found symbolism of the sun and family in reverse design 5 truly unique design, family, sun = brighter future, and begged his fellow committee members not to support the storyboard reverse design 3. Mr. Jansen found “love at first sight” with reverse design 5, but thought the “heads touch the globe too much, needs a subtle gap”. Mr. Moran said he was “stuck” between obverse 5 and 7, which he opined looked like they were from the same artist, and felt that obverse 4 “looks stoic”. Dr. Bugeja suggested shrinking the earth in reverse design 5, and possibly tilting the people inward, which could provide a “concept of orientation”; he was worried “it looks like a shield”. Ms. Wastweet closed out the discussion with saying reverse design 5 “will look good on coin”.
Betty Ford First Spouse Gold Coin
Ms. Lannin made the suggestion of changing the wording on reverse design 6 to ‘leading the way’. Dr. Bugeja said that obverse design 7 matched his memory of her public image, but called the oak leaf in reverse design 2 “clip art again”; he indicated that reverse design 6 was his favorite, but was impressed by the depth of field in reverse design 8. Mr. Hoge concurred with the previous comments, but added that obverse design 1 was “closest to the way he remembers her”, and that reverse design 3 resembles the symbol for the American Numismatic Society. Mr. Scarinci could see the merits of obverse designs 1 and 2, and would be waiting to decide; he loved reverse design 8, and found reverse design 6 a “pretty design”, but indicated that reverse design 8 “had not been seen previously”, showing “steps to be taken”. Dr. Viola liked lighthouse symbolism in obverse design 7, and reverse design 8 pops out. Mr. Uram said that obverse design 7 matched the picture that he had with Mrs. Ford, and that while he liked the lighthouse, but was gravitated to reverse design 8: “climbing to a better place”. Ms. Stevens-Sollman did not like the teeth in obverse design 7, but thought that reverse design 3 was a “beautiful design, but also the ANS symbol”; she indicated that reverse design 6 was “representative of her struggles”. Ms. Wastweet did not like any of the obverse designs particularly well, but could get behind obverse design 2, and while she was not a fan of the teeth seen in obverse design 5, she said it was a “good likeness”; she found the oak leaves and the word ‘STRENGTH’ repetitive in reverse design 3, but called reverse design 6 an “attractive design”, and reverse design 8 “can work on scale”. Chairman Marks said he “can’t get over the teeth” in obverse design 7, and he much preferred the first obverse design; reverse design 8 had a great symbolic image and got people onto an upward spiral. Mr. Jansen noted the artist “really got it” when creating reverse design 8. Mr. Moran found obverse design 2 to be a good design, but said obverse design 1 “didn’t get the hair right”, and said he respects Mr. Uram’s personal recollection for obverse design 7; he called reverse design 8 “multifaceted”, and liked the use of negative space. Dr. Bugeja called out reverse design 8 as an example of depth of field.
With a full committee, 33 points is a perfect score, and 17 points are required to obtain recommendation
- Obverse: 2-14 points, 3-30 points, 4-8 points
- Reverse: 2-28 points, 3-14 points, 6-4 points
- Obverse: 5-33 points
- Reverse: 3-18 points, 4-20 points
- Obverse: 2-11 points, 3-1 points, 5-7 points, 8-30 points
- Reverse: 1-28 points, 5-11 points
Lady Bird Johnson
- Obverse: 2-11 points, 3-6 points, 5-14 points, 6-3 points, 7-15 points
- Reverse: 1-18 points, 2-2 points, 3-16 points, 4-2 points, 8-10 points
- Obverse: 4-15 points, 5-25 points, 7-7 points
- Reverse: 3-0 points, 4-11 points, 5-31 points
- Obverse: 1-20 points, 2-15 points, 7-15 points
- Reverse: 1-3 points, 3-5 points, 5-0 points, 6-9 points, 7-2 points, 8-33 points
A motion to accept obverse design 5 for Lady Bird Johnson as the committee’s recommendation; it carried with 8 votes in favor to 3 against. A second motion was called to act on a suggestion by Don Everhart of the Mint to enlarge the image of obverse design 5 slightly to give it more impact; that failed to pass the committee on a 4-6 vote with 1 abstention.