On August 27, 2015, the United States Mint issued the 2015 Lady Bird Johnson First Spouse 1/2 oz $10 Gold Coin. The coin is struck in .9999 gold and has a maximum authorized mintage of only 10,000 pieces across all ordering options. The coin was struck at the West Point Mint and carries the “W” mintmark. It comes in two finishes, Proof and Uncirculated.
The Lady Bird Johnson $10 Gold Coin is the fourth and last gold coin in the U.S. Mint’s First Spouse Gold Coin Program issued in 2015. First Spouse gold coins are issued in concert with the base-metal golden Presidential dollar series. The Lady Bird Johnson $10 Gold Coin is also the 36th gold coin issued in the series. There are 39 First Spouse coins in the complete series.
“Lady Bird” Johnson was born Claudia Alta Taylor in 1912 in Karnack, Texas. Her father had risen from being the son of a sharecropper to owning a plantation and a handful of businesses. She got her nickname “Lady Bird” when she was an infant, though there’s actually some confusion as to what it means. She graduated with a BA from the University of Texas in 1930 and earned another Bachelor’s degree (this one in journalism, her intended career) in 1934.
That same year, she met and married Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), the future 36th President of the United States.
With the help of Lady Bird and her inheritance money, Lyndon won election to Congress and embarked upon his political campaign. She, however, invested her inheritance in several business properties, especially in the media. She proved to have a great deal of business acumen, becoming a millionaire in the process – the first “First Spouse” in American history to do so by her own efforts.
While First Lady from 1963 to 1969, Lady Bird Johnson focused on the beautification of Washington, D.C., and the nation’s highways (as reflected on the coin’s reverse). But she also fought alongside her husband for civil rights for African-Americans and was a diplomatic foil to her husband’s sometimes harsh nature.
The obverse features a bust of Mrs. Johnson that seems to be based on both the official White House portrait by Elizabeth Shoumatoff and a photograph by Robert Knudsen. Her head is turned slightly to the left to face the viewer directly. Her name LADY BIRD JOHNSON is inscribed around the top rim of the coin, above her effigy. To the left of Mrs. Johnson is the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST; to her right are the words LIBERTY, 2015 and the “W” mint mark for the West Point Mint. Beneath the truncation of Mrs. Johnson’s neckline is the ordinal number “36th” and the dates “1963-1969”, both of which represent her time in the White House.
Designer Linda Fox created the portrait; her initials LLF are found to Johnson’s left under IN GOD WE TRUST. U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Michael Gaudioso’s initials are found on the right side, under the mint mark.
Both the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument are featured on the reverse. As mentioned above, the flowers represent the first lady’s efforts to beautify the nation’s capital. The phrase BEAUTIFY OUR CITIES, PARKS AND HIGHWAYS is inscribed in the negative space above and between the monuments. Encircling the top of the reverse clockwise from left is the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Wrapping around the bottom are the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, the face value of $10, the weight 1/2 OZ., and the purity .9999 FINE GOLD.
U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Chris Costello is responsible for the reverse; his initials “CTC” are located right above the word UNUM in the inner disc of the design.
Sculptor-engraver Renata Gordon engraved the design; her initials are found to the right of Costello’s, above the numeral “1” in $10.
Like all of the coins in the 10-year First Spouse 1/2 oz Gold Coin series, the Nancy Reagan Gold Coin has a reeded edge.
Sculptor-engraver Michael Gaudioso has designed more than one dozen United States coins and medals (View Designer’s Profile).
Chris Costello is another Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist and designer currently working with the U.S. Mint.
Renata Gordon is part of the United States Mint’s sculpting-engraving department, working on several designs for the First Spouse and America the Beautiful Quarters programs (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||2015|
|OBV Designer||Linda Fox | Michael Gaudioso|
|REV Designer||Chris Costello | Renata Gordon|