By CoinWeek News Staff ….
 

Wednesday’s meeting of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (otherwise known as the CCAC) was relatively painless. Only two items were on the agenda, and neither required a vote: the review and discussion of finalist designs for the 50th Anniversary Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin program and a discussion of the concepts and themes for the 2020 and 2021 America the Beautiful Quarters series.

Previous notices about the meeting, which took place at the United States Mint’s Washington, D.C. headquarters but was accessible to the public over the phone, also included the review of revised art for certain 2019 ATB quarter issues but these were not discussed at the October 18 meeting.

Hail Apollo

The 2019 Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin Program consists of one gold $5 coin, one silver dollar and one clad half dollar, each with sharing a common reverse. The CCAC recommended reverse design set three at its June 21, 2017 meeting. As mandated by Public Law 114-282, the Apollo 11 coins will be curved like the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin series, with the reverse on the convex side.

Designs for the obverse are to be selected through a two-phase design competition open to the public. Initial portfolios from the first phase of the contest were narrowed down to 20 finalists, who were invited to submit prospective Apollo 11 designs by September 8. When reviewing the finalists on Wednesday, it was the CCAC’s job to make pertinent comments and suggestions for the six-member jury–consisting of three members of the CCAC and three members of the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)–that will be choosing the winner to take into account as they make their decision.

Many committee members thought that the 20 candidate designs failed to make effective use of the concavity of the canvas. Some questioned the worthiness of the designs themselves. Still others felt that the very idea of design competitions should be abandoned in the future. But in the end, and after much technical discussion with the Mint’s veteran Design and Engraving Manager Ron Harrigal, the CCAC settled on design 164 as the closest to a preference the committee could come.

2020 and 2021 ATB Quarters

Having approved designs for the 2019 roster of America the Beautiful Quarters at its September 19 meeting, the CCAC now discussed design concepts for the final six issues coming out in 2020 and 2021. These include National Park of American Samoa, Weir Farm National Historic Site (Connecticut), Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (U.S. Virgin Islands), Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (Vermont), Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas) for 2020 and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama) for 2021. All told, these coins are the 51st through the 56th entries in the series.

Tuskegee Airmen Training Site - World War 2Weir Farm, unique in the America the Beautiful series and almost unique in the National Park Service (Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site in New Hampshire is the only other), is dedicated to the visual arts, starting out life as an artist’s retreat and continuing to serve as a place where artists can reside and work. As such, the committee generally believed that the coin’s design should center around the artist at work, although it does not (and should not) have to do so literally.

Marsh-Billings Park preserves one of the country’s first managed conservationist efforts. Committee member and Whitman Publisher Dennis Tucker made the point that while there are many forests and wildlife areas represented among the lengthy ATB series, this particular park represents man’s attempts to control his impact on nature, and as such the design should focus on this aspect as opposed to a concept like its inherent “natural beauty”.

According to the park’s liaison to the Mint, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas features the last landscape in America where a visitor can see miles and miles of unobstructed grassland. To committee member Donald Scarinci, this represents a last best opportunity to portray grasses and flowers on an America the Beautiful series coin. To CCAC Chair Mary Lannin, the quarter is a good canvas on which to portray the wind blowing through the grass. These ideas are not incompatible, but one wonders how the impressive expansiveness of the park could even be displayed on a work of art the size of a quarter.

Tuskegee, of course, is home to the legendary Tuskegee Airmen of World War II fame, who proved that African-Americans could serve their country as pilots during wartime just as well as their white counterparts. There was some debate here about the reuse or complete avoidance of motifs used on previous Congressional Gold Medals commemorating the group’s efforts since the general public would not necessarily be familiar with the medals but would see the quarters on a potentially daily basis.

As national parks in other U.S. Pacific Territories have done, the Salt River Bay design presented the Committee with another opportunity to explore themes of biodiversity. Naturally, the CCAC once again expressed its interest in seeing a turtle on an ATB quarter. But newest committee member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made the very important point that residents of the 50 states sometimes forget that people from the Virgin islands (and American Samoa, for that matter) are Americans, too, and perhaps the quarter would be a good chance to remind everyone of this and reaffirm this bond.

And lastly, the American Samoa quarter would bear the responsibility of representing not just the only tropical rain forest within the United States but also an indigenous culture that is over 3,000 years old. A possible unifying idea here is the fact that the word Samoa means “Sacred Earth”.

And on that note, Chairman Lannin convened the meeting. The Committee will need to review and discuss designs for the Bob Dole Congressional Gold Medal and the 2019 American Legion Centennial Commemorative Coin program, but beyond the need to review the revised 2019 material there are no further public meetings are currently scheduled for the 2017 calendar year.
 


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