When reminiscing about classic American coin designs, it’s almost impossible not to think of the gorgeous double eagle by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the elegant Flowing Hair Stella by Charles E. Barber, or the ubiquitous silver dollar by George T. Morgan. While it is important to honor the contributions of these legendary figures to American coinage, it’s equally important not to get stuck in a time-warp so that we do not miss the exciting things going on in U.S. coinage right now.
One such exciting development is the 2019 American Legion commemorative silver dollar, which boasts timeless designs generated from fresh minds and hands. The coin was born from the diversity of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. Its obverse was designed by Paul C. Balan, a Filipino, and the reverse was designed by Patricia Lucas-Morris, a woman.
In 2017, some collectors in the hobby community cried “political correctness” when the American Liberty High-Relief $100 gold coin was released, with its portrait of Miss Liberty as a woman of non-white ethnicity.
No claims of political correctness can justly be levied at the American Legion coin that sprung from the minds of Balan and Lucas-Morris, as it relies heavily on iconography and metaphor, not unlike the coins that some collectors mention when they ask for a return to American tradition.
Balan’s obverse features a beautiful tribute: The emblem of the American Legion graced with leaves of oak and lily.
Not to be outdone, Lucas-Morris also did not disappoint.
Her reverse design features a fleur-de-lis framed by crossing U.S. and American Legion flags, continuing the theme from the obverse. The strength in her design is in its simplicity and tasteful use of negative space.
The 2019 American Legion commemorative silver dollar is the epitome of an American coin, and members of the American Legion will likely find it to be quite the treat. This silver coin will be released in 2019 in various packaging options, some of which will include the new American Veterans silver medal. The price of each silver dollar includes a surcharge of $10 which will be paid to the American Legion for the purposes of supporting programs for veterans and members of the Armed Forces.
Instead of arguing against the lack of diversity in the past (among America’s coin designers) or about perceived political correctness in today’s coin design, I instead call for a celebration of a triumph for both diversity and excellent coin design. The future will likely include an increasingly diverse population, but that does not mean that the past will not be honored. The answer to the clash between past and present is not further acrimony, but timelessness, and the 2019 American Legion commemorative silver dollar is here to deliver a timeless design crafted by new hands.