By CoinWeek …..
- CoinWeek’s editors reviewed over 200 legal tender coins produced in 2023 by top public and private mints
- Three coins stood out
- CoinWeek awards the United States Mint’s Jovita Idar American Women quarter its top prize
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Coin collectors enjoyed a stellar 2023 as the United States Mint and other leading mints around the world produced thousands of coin issues celebrating a wide range of themes, events, and people. Enthusiasm for modern coin releases and coin collecting in general remains high, and a number of high-profile limited mintage releases sold out and enjoy brisk business in the secondary market.
To select this year’s best coin designs, CoinWeek’s editors reviewed the output of the world’s leading public and private mints. We considered the coin’s theme, design, use of materials, typography, and collector desirability. After careful consideration, the following three stood out as the very best of 2023.
GOLD MEDAL – 2023 American Women Quarter – Jovita Idar – United States Mint
CoinWeek awards the Jovita Idar American Women Quarter the gold medal for Best Coin Design of 2023. It was an easy choice for the editors, but it was pleasantly surprising that out of the hundreds of coin designs we reviewed, the gold medal would go to a circulating coin.
The Quarter Has Been in a Constant State of Change Since 1999
The United States quarter dollar denomination hasn’t had a standard reverse since 1998, a period of over 25 years. Over that time, Congress has seen fit to have the Mint produce coins that celebrated states, territories, national parks, Washington crossing the Delaware, and now notable American women.
The American Women Quarters Program, which will run through 2025, has proven to be the most artistically exciting series of circulating commemorative coins ever produced by the United States Mint. Authorized by Public Law 116-330, the program celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of women in the development of our nation throughout its history, and this program benefits greatly from not being restricted to politicians, inanimate objects, or concepts.
In 2022, the Mint released its first batch of American Women quarter designs. Among them was a quarter honoring Asian-American actress Anna May Wong. That pitch-perfect design captured Wong’s cinematic “Star Power” and was a hint of things to come in 2023 with the spectacularly modern take on educator, journalist, and civil rights pioneer Jovita Idar that was used on her quarter reverse design.
Why the Jovita Idar Quarter is 2023’s Best Coin Design
The Jovita Idar quarter stands out as CoinWeek’s Best Coin Design of 2023 for three reasons: Balance, Artistic Merit, and Innovation.
Regarding balance, Idar’s figure extends from the top to the bottom of the coin design. Frames or inscriptions do not confine this portrait. Because of this, the fields are clean and serve the purpose of further emphasizing the sculpted design. Medallic Artist John P. McGraw’s portrait of Idar is based on a well-known photograph taken around 1905.
Modern lettering on U.S. coins has come across as sterile and lifeless for too long. This is due to the use of computers (contrast this to the type on U.S. currency notes, which is engraved by hand). For the Idar quarter, the statutory inscriptions were originally hand-drawn and made part of a collage of words in English and Spanish that convey the essence of Idar as a public figure. In this regard, the text is the design; it does not box it in or infringe upon it.
Furthermore, the inscriptions carry significance as they convey Idar’s guiding principles, the publications she worked for, and the organizations she was a member of. With this use, a woman of powerful words is powerfully drawn with words.
McGraw’s other design and sculpting credits include the United States Capitol Police and Those Who Protected the Capitol Congressional Gold Medal (2022), the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal reverse (2023), and the 2023 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin reverse.
SILVER MEDAL – 2023 Puzzle Coin Set – The Celestial Circle – The Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the most innovative state mints in the world. At its Winnipeg, Manitoba facility, the RCM produces over one billion coins for circulation each year. In Ottawa, the Mint deploys state-of-the-art technology to strike collector coins for its numismatic program. Canada’s commemorative coins enjoy an audience that extends far beyond the country’s borders, and the global market for innovative coins is a never-ending arms race.
In 2023, the Royal Canadian Mint continued to push the envelope with this attractive gold-plated silver puzzle coin. The design is the work of artist Morgan Asoyuf and is a celebration of the indigenous Ts’mysen culture of Canada’s Northwest coastal region. The puzzle coin is comprised of eight pieces that have a combined face value of $190 CAD and a large $50 coin in the center. Seven interlocking pieces wrap around. The interplay between the textured gold surface and the black artistic detail is reminiscent of the Japanese painted Ōban coins of the 16th century.
Limited to 1,000 pieces, this stunning piece is sold out, and will undoubtedly enjoy a robust secondary market for years to come.
BRONZE MEDAL – Chamomile Flower 10 Euro Silver Coin – The Austrian Mint
The Austrian Mint has punched above its weight for decades, producing coins of superior technical and artistic merit that rival those produced at more prominent mints like the Monnaie de Paris and the British Royal Mint. Aided by an artistic tradition that was as strong during the 20th century as it was during Austria’s heyday as one of Europe’s dominant imperial powers, the designers at the Austrian Mint have created a catalog of coins with local and global appeal. This is one of the reasons why the Vienna Philharmonic gold coin is known worldwide.
The 2023 Chamomile Flower 10 Euro silver coin is the fifth release from Austria’s Language of Flowers coin series. According to the Anglo-Saxons, the chamomile was a sacred herb imbued with healing powers and the power to ward off illness and evil. An innovative design process allowed the coin’s designers Katrin Kuntner and Rebecca Wilding to capture the flower in its natural state. A tearaway features a stylized color print of chamomile flowers. A determined young woman adorns the obverse; on her shoulder sits a phoenix. Beyond her is the silhouette of a spear, which shimmers when you hold the coin under light.
Available in copper Uncirculated, silver Special Uncirculated, and a colorized Proof. CoinWeek selects the colorized Proof edition as its Bronze Award winner for 2023.
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