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CCAC Design Recommendations for Ronald Reagan Presidential $1 Coin, Mark Twain Commemorative, Among Others


By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….

At its March 5 public meeting in conjunction with the ANA National Money Show in Portland, Oregon, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) made recommendations from the available design candidates for the Mark Twain commemorative coin program, the Rosebud Sioux Code Talker Congressional gold medal, the Monuments Men Recognition Congressional gold medal and the Ronald Reagan Presidential $1 coin. The committee also discussed design concepts for the 2017 America the Beautiful Quarters program and the Nancy Reagan First Spouse coin and medal.

The meeting started a little after 9:30 Pacific Standard Time (PST), with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Congressional gold medal.

As she did for all of the programs on the day’s agenda, April Stafford (Program Manager of the United States Mint’s Office of Sales and Marketing) started the discussion with some background on the authorizing legislation, program details and cultural context of the potential designs. Two obverse designs and two reverse designs were presented to the committee. After some brief technical discussion concerning the accuracy of the representations–ethnically, culturally, historically and militarily–the Committee voted unanimously to recommend obverse 1 (RST-O-01) and reverse 1 (RST-R-01) to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew for final consideration.

Obverse 1 and reverse 1 were the tribe’s preferred designs.

Next up was the Mark Twain commemorative coin program. Committee members had to decide between 16 obverses and 11 different reverses for the $5 gold coin, and 17 unique obverses and 14 reverses for the silver dollar.

twain5The committee recommended obverse 1 (MT-G-O-01) and reverse 5 (MT-G-R-05) for the gold coin, and–after a few other motions failed–obverse 1 (MT-S-O-01, with some leeway granted to the artist to improve upon its likeness of Twain) and obverse 11 (MT-S-O-11) to be adapted for use as the reverse of the silver piece.

The discussion was mildly argumentative at times. Committee Chair Gary Marks early on blasted the presence of a comet (representing Halley’s Comet) on the coins, stating that it had “nothing to do with [Twain’s] life”, and that he would raise a motion to remove the comet if one of the relevant designs passed. He also lambasted the trend of including far too much text on one or both sides of contemporary commemorative coinage and medals, calling such a design a “plaque” instead of a coin–though Chairman Marks is far from the only committee member to hold such an opinion.

Interestingly, the chosen designs did not match up with the preferences of The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, as represented at the meeting by the Executive Director Cindy Lovell.

Also, no one commented on the fact that Twain, a noted atheist, would appear on a coin with the words IN GOD WE TRUST inscribed next to his portrait.

After an hour’s recess, the Committee discussed the 12 obverse candidates and nine unique reverse candidates for the Monuments Men Recognition Congressional gold medal.

Before they got started, however, Marks made a comment regarding the Committee’s job and how the advisory board may make choices that differ from what “stakeholders” (individuals and organizations who lobby for and benefit from the coin and medal programs that the Committee is mandated to discuss) prefer or recommend. According to Marks, some representatives have left meetings in the past feeling “disturbed” by the Committee’s choices, and he would like to clarify the duties and authority of the CCAC before any further discussion.

The chair then addressed the Monuments Men gold medal directly, saying that of all the day’s themes it should perhaps be closest to the Committee’s heart, concerning as it does art and freedom of expression.

Researcher, author and documentarian Robert M. Edsel–whose 2009 book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History became the 2012 film The Monuments Men starring and directed by George Clooney–also shared his opinion that the proper subject of the medal is the men who risked their lives to save the cultural capital of the West from irrevocable destruction.

monumentsTo emphasize his point, he stated that we do not have men and women doing the same thing in Iraq and Syria today, where ISIS is destroying not just the Middle East’s but the world’s cultural inheritance.

Obverse 6 (MM-CGM-O-06) and obverse 11 (MM-CGM-O-11, with the removal of the inscription MONUMENTS MEN) were selected as the obverse and reverse, respectively.

The Committee then moved on to design concepts for the reverses of the 2017 America the Beautiful quarters. Parks represented this time around include the Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York / New Jersey), Effigy Mound National Monument (Iowa), Ozark National Scenic Riverway (Missouri), George Rogers National Park (Indiana) and the Frederick Douglass Home and Historic Site (Washington, D.C.). Representatives of each park also weighed in on the proper representation of their respective programs.

Notably, Dr. Herman Viola, who worked with the Smithsonian on several exhibits concerning Native American History, wanted to ensure that the Effigy Mound design was respectful of Native taboos and sensibilities.

Next, the Committee considered design candidates for the 2016 Ronald Reagan Presidential one dollar coin. The general feeling was that the designs were more or less similar, so after a quick debate on the virtues of teeth on presidential coins, obverse 1 (RR-01) was chosen as their recommendation.

And finally, because first spouse coins and medals are released concurrently with their matching Presidential golden dollars, design concepts for the Nancy Reagan First Spouse medal and coin were discussed. The most interesting suggestion from this discussion occurred when Chairman Marks asked Ms. Stafford if it were possible to get some input on the design from Nancy Reagan herself.

The 2016 Nancy Reagan First Spouse coin will be only the second time a living woman has appeared on American coinage; the first living woman on a United States coin was Eunice Shriver, who appeared on the 1995 Special Olympics World Games commemorative silver dollar.

The meeting then ended shortly before 4:30 PM PST.

Monuments Men Obverse Candidate Designs (Selected design in gold)


Monuments Men Reverse Candidate Designs (Selected design in gold)


Mark Twain Commemorative $5 Gold Coin Obverse Candidate Designs (Selected design in gold)


Mark Twain Commemorative $5 Gold Coin Reverse Candidate Designs (Selected design in gold)


Mark Twain Commemorative Silver $1 Coin Obverse Candidate Designs (Selected design in gold)


Mark Twain Commemorative Silver $1 Coin Obverse Candidate Designs (Selected design in gold)


Rosebud Sioux Tribe Congressional Gold Medal Candidate Designs (Selected designs in gold)


Hubert Walker
Hubert Walker
Hubert Walker has served as the Assistant Editor of CoinWeek.com since 2015. Along with co-author Charles Morgan, he has written for CoinWeek since 2012, as well as the monthly column "Market Whimsy" for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing.

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  1. Please clarify, so MT-S-O-11 was voted to be the reverse of the commemorative silver dollar, and not one of the actual reverse design candidates?

  2. By the way,

    Indiana Jones was a Monuments Man… or at least one of Steven Spielberg’s inspirations for the character, Langdon Warner, was. He served as an advisor to the program in Japan.


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