The May 25th, 2010 meeting of the Citizens Coin Advisory Committee was held at the U.S. Mint’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., where committee members discussed the designs for the 2011 United States Army Commemorative Coins. The program will include a $5 gold coin, silver dollar, and clad half dollar issued during 2011. The United States Mint provided the Committee with a number of design candidates for each coin, for their review and recommendation.
Per the authorizing legislation, the designs of the three coins should be “emblematic of the traditions, history, and heritage of the U.S. Army, and its role in American society from the Colonial period to today.”
2011 United States Army Commemorative $5 Gold Coin
The Committee’s discussion for the $5 gold coin was primarily focused on the obverse designs, as the reverse designs were all derived from the Seal of the United States Army, with minor modifications. Comments regarding the obverse design candidates were made that the ‘floating rocks’ seen in designs 1 and 2 were unnecessary; the goggles worn by the modern-day soldier as depicted in designs 2 and 3 should be removed, allowing the soldier’s eyes to be seen; and the M-16 rifle held by the modern-day soldier should be replaced by a M-14 rifle, a weapon being used in current military operations.
Heidi Wastweet, a sculptor and recent addition to the committee, cautioned the rest of the members that features such as the three-dimensional stars in design 3 “would not translate well to the medium” of coinage. Roger Burdette provided a historical word of warning regarding the depiction of full-length people on coins under one inch in size, notably of the Hermon A. MacNeil design of the Standing Liberty Quarter from the early 20th Century.
In the end, the Committee voted in favor of recommending obverse design 3 over 2, by a vote of 20 to 18, and reverse 3 overwhelmingly over 2, by a vote of 28 to 6.
2011 United States Army Commemorative Silver Dollar
The silver dollar obverse and reverse designs were met with equal levels of interest. Obverse design 2 was described by Heidi Wastweet as “an illustration, not a coin,” but had positive comments for the renditions of the globes in the various designs. Donald Scarinci commented that obverse design 1 depicted an unambiguously female soldier, but lamented that other ethnicities were not also represented. Dr. Mitchell Sanders spoke in support of the two soldiers in obverse design 1, stating that “they have each other’s back”.
There was a moment of levity in the room when Arthur Houghton compared reverse design 2 to title graphics from the “Charlie’s Angels” television series. Chairman Gary Marks indicated that he thought obverse design 1 “would look good on a coin” and would “execute well” from a minting perspective. He also believed obverse design 5 “did not look like an obverse coin design.”
When the votes were cast, the first obverse design won a majority approval, 25 votes compared to 10 for design 5. The counts for the reverse designs were lower, but still sent a strong message, landing 19 for design 3, and 8 for design 4.
2011 United States Army Commemorative Half Dollar
The clad half dollar designs were met with considerably less enthusiasm than those of the previous two coins. Mr. Burdette went so far as to say the designs appeared to be “literal illustrations hodge-podged together”, and Dr. Sanders expressed his general dislike for “clip art designs”.
Despite the general misgivings towards the designs, there were constructive comments made, primarily regarding obverse design 2. On the right of that particular design is a Redstone rocket, but as this coin is intended to signify the work the Army does in peacetime, the use of that particular model was deemed inappropriate, and the substitution of the Jupiter model was recommended by Mr. Burdette. Separately, he commented with considerable emotion that someone had a “smidgen of creativity” when they added details resembling printed circuits to the bottom of obverse design 4. Regarding obverse design 2, Ms. Wastweet commented that the Army was being “portrayed in a positive light,” and also commented favorably towards design 4’s detail behind the date.
In the end, a motion to dismiss all the designs for this coin was made and seconded, but failed to get a majority vote. A second motion to only dismiss the obverse designs, however, did pass the committee, so votes were only cast for the reverse designs, of which the second received the most votes.
The final design selections for the 2011 United States Army Commemorative Coins will be made by the United States Secretary of the Treasury. His decision will follow consultations with the Secretary of the Army, the Army Historical Foundation, and the Commission of Fine Arts, and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
The May 25th Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee meeting also included a discussion of the design candidates for the 2011 Medal of Honor Commemorative Coins. This will be covered in a separate article.
Les Peters publishes a coin blog titled Tales of a Lifelong Coin Collector that describes his experiences related to collecting coins.