By Chris Bulfinch for CoinWeek …..
David J. Ryder’s second term as Mint Director is coming to a close with this resignation on October 1, the Treasury Department announced on September 24. Alison Doone will serve as Acting Director.
But while his second term was marked by collector frustration with Mint sales practices – artificial rarities and website slowdowns, primarily – and the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryder dutifully supported the numismatic community with releases like the 2017-P Lincoln cent and was a consistent presence at major coin shows, signing autographs and interacting with collectors.
Ryder was first appointed Director of the Mint by President George H.W. Bush in September 1992 and held the position until November 1993. Mint Director Ryder had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, Deputy Treasurer of the United States, and as a Special Assistant to President (H.W.) Bush.
Between his terms of service as Director, Ryder worked for technology firms, namely as Global Business Development Manager and Managing Director of Currency for Honeywell’s Authentication Technologies Group and as CEO of Secure Products Corporation; the latter was acquired by the former in 2007. Much of his experience in the private sector involved the development of anti-counterfeiting technology.
Ryder was nominated to the position again by President Donald J. Trump in 2017 and was confirmed on March 21, 2018. After he saw an acquaintance sworn in as a Trump administration appointee, Ryder inquired about vacant administration positions and was informed that the Mint Director’s position was available. His second term saw the Mint grapple with coin shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of new designs, including security features, to the American Eagle bullion coin programs.
Controversy surrounding the Mint’s Authorized Bulk Purchase Program and “artificial rarities” like the 2019-S Enhanced Reverse Proof American Silver Eagle and the 2020-W American Eagle bullion coins with “V75” privy marks honoring the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II also marked Ryder’s term. The Mint contended with bot attacks on its website, which consistently slowed to a crawl on the release dates of limited-edition numismatic products. The problem became so acute that on November 18, 2020, Ryder released a statement addressing the slowdowns and promising reforms.
Many of the early numismatic releases in 2021, like the privy-marked Morgan dollars released in May, saw similar problems.
Ryder’s second term saw a number of firsts for the Mint. The first coins bearing the West Point Mint’s W mint mark struck for circulation, the 2019 America the Beautiful quarters, were produced in limited quantities and released into circulation as part of the Great American Coin Hunt (GACH). Organized around National Coin Week, the GACH saw participating dealers and collectors put relatively low-value collectible coins and paper money into circulation to stimulate interest in coin collecting. The W mint mark quarters were the Mint’s contribution.
The Mint issued its first colorized coin, honoring the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in 2020.
Anti-counterfeiting was another priority for Ryder during his tenure as Mint Director. Ryder met with the Industry Council for Tangible Assets’ (ICTA; now the National Coin & Bullion Association, or NCBA) Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force and representatives of firms who could contribute anti-counterfeiting technology. A three-person panel on anti-counterfeiting was hosted at the Mint’s numismatic forum in October 2018.
Ryder was also named one of Coin World’s “60 Most Influential People in Numismatics” earlier this year.
Ryder is quoted in a bulletin from the Treasury Department reflecting on his service:
“It was an honor to serve as the 34th and the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint. During this global pandemic, the U.S. Mint has showcased American excellence. Not only did the Mint meet its primary mission of producing circulating coinage, but it generated near-record revenue by introducing wildly popular numismatic products at a time in which many of its peers around the world ceased operations. Thank you to all of the employees who work tirelessly and play a role in ensuring that the Mint can meet the demands of the public, deliver quality products, and operate effectively. I know that with Alison serving as Acting Director, the Mint will continue to do just that.”
Ryder’s replacement, Alison Doone, has served in a wide range of Federal government positions over more than 20 years, including as the Mint’s Chief Administrative Officer since March of this year. She was also quoted in the Treasury bulletin:
“I’m excited to serve the U.S. Mint as Acting Director to help it continue its important work. I look forward to working alongside the devoted Mint employees across the country and supporting our ongoing efforts to ensure that we are operating efficiently and producing quality products for the American people.”
Doone will have to contend with many of the same issues as Ryder, including COVID-induced demand for circulating coinage and collector dissatisfaction with the Mint’s sales procedures.