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HomeUS CoinsMake it Stop: Perhaps Worst Conceived US Coin Design Candidates Revealed

Make it Stop: Perhaps Worst Conceived US Coin Design Candidates Revealed

Design Disaster - U.S. Mint

Commentary by Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek …..

Please, make it stop!

Put before the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) on Thursday, July 31 was a portfolio of designs for the first coin of an ill-conceived new supposedly circulating commemorative coin series that will be produced over the course of the next decade and a half by the United States Mint.

Luckily for the hobby and the public at-large, the CCAC soundly rejected these designs with a unanimous 10-0 vote. Had the final tally been 100-0 against, the proposed designs would not have received a sufficient rebuke.

A senior member of the Committee, speaking off-the-record, shared with us their opinion that the portfolio of designs was an “embarrassment” and suggested that the Mint should skip the optional first coin altogether – a move that lies totally within the text of the law, which reads:

“(ii) FIRST COIN.—Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), if the Secretary finds that it is feasible and cost-effective, the Secretary may mint and issue a $1 coin in 2018 to introduce the series of coins described in this subsection, that—

“(I) has the obverse described under paragraph (2)(A);

“(II) has a reverse that bears the inscription ‘United States of America’ and ‘American Innovators’ and a representation of the signature of President George Washington on the first United States patent issued;

“(III) has the edge-incusing described under paragraph (2)(C); and

“(IV) the design for which has reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

One could speak at length about the fact that the United States Congress and Treasury Departments past and present have failed to enact a sensible policy regarding the protracted dollar bill versus dollar coin issue. Other countries realize that the two cannot co-exist and have phased out low-denomination paper money in favor of coins.

The American Innovation $1 Coin Act (H.R. 770) was introduced to the House of Representatives in January of 2017 and wasn’t passed until January of this year. Then, almost half a year later, the Senate passed it on June 20. President Donald J. Trump signed the bill into law on July 20. This means that the Mint has to develop the artwork, ready production and strike the first coin of a major multi-year series by the end of 2018 and the second coin by January of 2019. How can the final product be anything but slapdash?

The U.S. Mint should come to grips quickly with the committee’s rejection of the designs and understand that the ire of coin collectors will be worse by several degrees. It is our opinion that if any of these designs were approved by the Treasury Secretary and put into production, the American Innovation $1 Coin Act’s ignominious first accomplishment would be to usher in the worst coin design in the 227-year history of the United States Mint.

Further issues in the series would suffer from the stain of this first issue and any hopes the Mint would have of replicating the popularity of other multi-year coin series would be diminished – as would the very idea of multi-year coin series, period.

What the Mint has presented for review is not a celebration of innovation, but instead a cookie cutter formula of coin design the likes of which no world-class mint would have ever considered doing. It is in the hobby’s best interests that this is not allowed to happen, and to this end we support the stance of the CCAC. The Mint should recommend to the Secretary of the Treasury that five months is insufficient to develop a multi-coin, multi-year program and the best use of the Mint’s time is to use the remainder of this calendar year to focus on the designs of the 2019 coins.

We reached out to the United States Mint for comment but did not receive a response in time for the publication of this article.

 


The Rejected 2018 American Innovation $1 Proposed Designs

 

Obverse Design Candidate
Obverse Design Candidate

 

2018-AI-R-01
2018-AI-R-01

 

2018-AI-R-02
2018-AI-R-02

 

2018-AI-R-03
2018-AI-R-03

 

2018-AI-R-04
2018-AI-R-04

 

 

2018-AI-R-05
2018-AI-R-05

 

 

2018-AI-R-06
2018-AI-R-06

 

2018-AI-R-07A
2018-AI-R-07A

 

2018-AI-R-07B
2018-AI-R-07B

 


American Innovation $1 Coin Act

One Hundred Fifteenth Congress of the United States of America

AT THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday,
the third day of January, two thousand and eighteen

An Act:

To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in recognition of American innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, to promote the importance of innovation in the United States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “American Innovation $1 Coin Act”.

SEC. 2. AMERICAN INNOVATION $1 COIN PROGRAM.

Section 5112 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by inserting after subsection (v) the following new subsection:

“(w) Redesign And Issuance Of $1 Coins Honoring Innovation And Innovators From Each State, The District Of Columbia, And Each Territory.—

“(1) REDESIGN BEGINNING IN 2019.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding subsection (d)(1) and subsection (d)(2) and in accordance with the provisions of this subsection, during the 14-year period beginning on January 1, 2019 (or such later date as provided under subparagraph (B)(ii)), the Secretary of the Treasury shall mint and issue $1 coins to be known as ‘American Innovation $1 coins’, that—

“(i) have designs on the obverse selected in accordance with paragraph (2)(A); and

“(ii) have a design on the reverse selected in accordance with paragraph (2)(B).

“(B) CONTINUITY PROVISIONS.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall continue to mint and issue $1 coins honoring Native Americans and their contributions in accordance with subsection (r).

“(ii) FIRST COIN.—Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), if the Secretary finds that it is feasible and cost-effective, the Secretary may mint and issue a $1 coin in 2018 to introduce the series of coins described in this subsection, that—

“(I) has the obverse described under paragraph (2)(A);

“(II) has a reverse that bears the inscription ‘United States of America’ and ‘American Innovators’ and a representation of the signature of President George Washington on the first United States patent issued;

“(III) has the edge-incusing described under paragraph (2)(C); and

“(IV) the design for which has reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

“(C) DEFINITION OF TERRITORY.—For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘territory’ means the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

“(2) DESIGN REQUIREMENTS.—Notwithstanding subsection (d)(1) and subsection (d)(2), the $1 coins issued in accordance with paragraph (1)(A) shall meet the following design requirements:

“(A) COIN OBVERSE.—The common design on the obverse of each coin issued under this subsection shall contain—

“(i) a likeness of the Statue of Liberty extending to the rim of the coin and large enough to provide a dramatic representation of Liberty;

“(ii) the inscription ‘$1’; and

“(iii) the inscription ‘In God We Trust’.

“(B) COIN REVERSE.—The design on the reverse of each coin issued under this subsection shall bear the following:

“(i) An image or images emblematic of one of the following from one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or the territories of the United States:

“(I) A significant innovation.

“(II) An innovator.

“(III) A group of innovators.

“(ii) The name of the State, the District of Columbia, or territory, as applicable.

“(iii) The inscription ‘United States of America’.

“(C) EDGE-INCUSED INSCRIPTIONS.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—The inscription of the year of minting or issuance of the coin, the mint mark, and the inscription ‘E Pluribus Unum’ shall be edge-incused into the coin.

“(ii) PRESERVATION OF DISTINCTIVE EDGE.—The edge-incusing of the inscriptions under clause (i) on coins issued under this subsection shall be done in a manner that preserves the distinctive edge of the coin so that the denomination of the coin is readily discernible, including by individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

“(3) ISSUANCE OF COINS COMMEMORATING INNOVATION OR INNOVATORS.—

“(A) ORDER OF ISSUANCE.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—The coins issued under this subsection commemorating either an innovation, an individual innovator, or a group of innovators, from each State, the District of Columbia, or a territory shall be issued in the following order:

“(I) STATE.—With respect to each State, the coins shall be issued in the order in which the States ratified the Constitution of the United States or were admitted into the Union, as the case may be.

“(II) DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND TERRITORIES.—After all coins are issued under subclause (I), the coins shall be issued for the District of Columbia and the territories in the following order: the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

“(ii) APPLICATION IN EVENT OF THE ADMISSION OF ADDITIONAL STATES.—Notwithstanding clause (i), if any additional State is admitted into the Union before the end of the 14-year period referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary of the Treasury may issue a $1 coin with respect to the additional State in accordance with clause (i)(I).

“(iii) APPLICATION IN THE EVENT OF INDEPENDENCE OR ADDING OF A TERRITORY.—Notwithstanding clause (i)—

“(I) if any territory becomes independent or otherwise ceases to be a territory of the United States before $1 coins are minted pursuant to this subsection, the subsection shall cease to apply with respect to such territory; and

“(II) if any new territory is added to the United States, $1 coins shall be issued for such territories in the order in which the new the territories are added, beginning after the $1 coin is issued for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

“(B) ISSUANCE OF COINS COMMEMORATING FOUR INNOVATIONS OR INNOVATORS DURING EACH OF 14 YEARS.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—Four $1 coin designs as described in this subsection shall be issued during each year of the period referred to in paragraph (1) until 1 coin featuring 1 innovation, an individual innovator, or a group of innovators, from each of the States, the District of Columbia, and territories has been issued.

“(ii) NUMBER OF COINS OF EACH DESIGN.—The Secretary shall prescribe, on the basis of such factors as the Secretary determines to be appropriate, the number of $1 coins that shall be issued with each of the designs selected for each year of the period referred to in paragraph (1).

“(4) SELECTION OF CONCEPT AND DESIGN.—

“(A) CONCEPT.—With respect to each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory to be honored with a coin under this subsection, the selection of the significant innovation, innovator, or group of innovators to be borne on the reverse of such coin shall be made by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Governor or other chief executive of the State, the District of Columbia, or territory with respect to which a coin is to be issued under this subsection.

“(B) DESIGN.—Each of the designs required under this subsection shall be selected by the Secretary after—

“(i) consultation with—

“(I) the Governor or other chief executive of the State, the District of Columbia, or territory with respect to which a coin is to be issued under this subsection; and

“(II) the Commission of Fine Arts; and

“(ii) review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

“(C) SELECTION AND APPROVAL PROCESS.—Proposals for designs for $1 coins under this subsection may be submitted in accordance with the design selection and approval process developed by the Secretary in the sole discretion of the Secretary.

“(D) STANDARDS.—Because it is important that the Nation’s coinage and currency bear dignified designs of which the citizens of the United States can be proud, the Secretary shall not select any frivolous or inappropriate design for any $1 coin minted under this subsection.

“(E) PROHIBITION ON CERTAIN REPRESENTATIONS.—No head and shoulders portrait or bust of any person and no portrait of a living person may be included in the design of any coin issued under this subsection.

“(5) TREATMENT AS NUMISMATIC ITEMS.—For purposes of sections 5134 and 5136, all $1 coins minted under this subsection shall be considered to be numismatic items.

“(6) ISSUANCE OF NUMISMATIC COINS.—The Secretary may mint and issue such number of $1 coins of each design selected under this subsection in uncirculated and proof qualities as the Secretary determines to be appropriate.

“(7) TERMINATION OF PROGRAM.—The issuance of coins under this subsection shall terminate when one innovation, an individual innovator, or a group of innovators, from each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory has been honored and may not be resumed except by an Act of Congress.”.

Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker
Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker
Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker have been contributing authors on CoinWeek since 2012. They also wrote the monthly "Market Whimsy" column and various feature articles for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing.

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