Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) announced today that it is developing a full suite of attractive labels for 2016 coins commemorating classic designs by the U.S. Mint, featuring .9999 24-karat gold coins in the original size of the Winged Liberty dime, Standing Liberty quarter dollar, and Walking Liberty half dollar.
The Winged Liberty dime, designed by Adolph A. Weinman, includes an image of Liberty that often is mistaken for the Mercury, the Roman god, which is why the denomination is often called the Mercury dime. The gold issue of this coin will contain “AU,” symbol for gold, on the reverse. It will weigh 1/10 ounce.
The Walking Liberty half dollar will contain the inscriptions AU, 24 K, and ½ ounce.
Mark Stephenson, newly appointed Vice President and Director of Bulk Services, said the commemoratives will appeal to both dealer and collector alike. “PCGS is already developing a full suite of attractive labels for these coins that both dealers and collectors will love.”
The New Year will also mark two other important numismatic anniversaries, he added. “It will be the 30th anniversary of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins and the 30th anniversary for PCGS in 2016.
“We intend to commemorate both occasions in a classic way that will excite the hobby,” Stephenson stated in a news release. “PCGS’ innovative label designs and secure holder paired with the beautiful American Silver Eagle make a great combination.”
Stephenson is correct about the appeal of these classic coins cast in pure gold. As a former member of the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee, I can attest that several on the panel rallied for these commemoratives.
My advice was to add the rarest mint marks to the 1916 series: the 1916-D for the dime (original mintage 264,000), the 1916-P for the quarter (52,000), and the 1916-S for the half dollar (508,000). But that involved complex manufacturing considerations involving government regulations for production at three mints and hence was scuttled.
While several of the CCAC members praised the proposed new gold products when they were introduced to the panel, there also was some talk about the rationale of commemorating coins rather than people or occasions. That also was the case with the 2014 gold Kennedy coin, celebrating 50 years of the issue.
I just never liked that Kennedy gold coin, primarily because I collect halves and had to put up for years with gold-plated 1964 silver coins. (I still find them on occasion in rolls.)
In the PCGS release, Stephenson said that “2016 is looking like it will be a bounce back year for modern coins.” I suppose there is plenty to criticize and praise about 2015 US Mint products, which also featured one of the most attractive modern coins ever minted, the $100 American Liberty High Relief Gold Issue.
The obverse features a clean design by Justin Kunz (sculpted by Phebe Hemphill).
The reverse eagle, designed by Paul C. Balin and sculpted by Don Everhart, rivals anything by Gobrecht or Saint Gaudens.
Former CCAC Chairman Gary Marks was responsible for resurrecting this reverse design originally presented as a prospect for the 2015-W $5 U.S. Marshals 225th Anniversary Gold Coin. Marks also was an articulate spokesperson for the value of beautiful modern designs rather than continually celebrating the past.
I tend to agree with that.
In an interview for this post, Marks shared his artistic viewpoint. “Just as the classic designs provided elegant representations of America that were both relevant for their time and also timeless, so modern designs should ideally do the same,” he said. “I am heartened to see both the 2015 High Relief and 2016 commemorative designs begin to articulate designs that meet that standard.”
Let’s address that standard in association with the PCGS announcement about labels for the classic gold coins. First, our compliments to Mark Stephenson for being an advocate for coins and professional encapsulation that excites hobbyists. He knows customer relations as well as anyone in the country. We’re sure he will help select a series of labels that do justice to the classic gold coins mentioned in his release.
My advice is to go simple and clean. For instance, resist using a gold label that will distract from the gold coins. (The PCGS Secure label is gold enough and also takes up room on the label.) Also, don’t feel obliged to add art work as was done with some labels of the PCGS Gold Buffalo coins, like this one:
Remember that hobbyists are interested in the coins. If the coins are masterpieces that will reinvigorate the modern coin market, as Stephenson predicts, let them shine, literally, with pure gold.
My two cents. (And thank heavens the U.S. Mint missed the sesquicentennial of that coin in 2014.)