When members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee assembled in Washington April 19, one of the panel’s most outspoken members noted that the Commission of Fine Arts had reviewed the same four Presidential dollar designs the previous day.
“They pretty much picked the right ones,” said Donald Scarinci, a New Jersey lawyer and medals specialist.
His remark turned out to be a prediction of the CCAC’s choices.
The CCAC and CFA both recommended the same designs for the obverses of three of the four 2014 Presidential dollars.
The two panels disagreed only on the Franklin D. Roosevelt dollar portrait.
The CFA voted for a profile of the only man elected to four terms as president, selecting a design that strongly resembles the portrait of Roosevelt on the dime.
The CCAC opted for portrait of a bespectacled president wearing his pince-nez eyeglasses, avoiding the portrait “looking like a dime,” as Thomas J. Uram, a Pennsylvania collector on the panel, put it.
However, the portrait resembling that on the dime had its backers on the CCAC. It finished second to the eyeglass portrait in the voting scheme used by the committee.
That procedure allows each member of the CCAC at the meeting to award up to three points for any design. With nine members present, that would have permitted a maximum of 27 points for any design.
The eyeglass portrait got 17 points to win the panel’s endorsement, and the “dime” portrait got 11. A portrait of a smiling Roosevelt with a tilted head received 10 points and finished in third place.
Which design goes on the dollar will be up to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. If he follows the practice of Bush administration Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson Jr., he might opt for the “dime” portrait.
Faced with a decision on how to depict Andrew Jackson on his Presidential dollar in 2007, Paulson opted for a Jackson design well known to most Americans, the Jackson on the $20 bill. His reasoning was: Give the public the Jackson they know.
Now a new Treasury secretary could face the same issue, Scarinci noted: Whether to use the well-
known image taken from a dime or go with a less well-known image.
The U.S. Mint brought eight obverses of Franklin Roosevelt to show to the two reviewing committees. The images showed him in a range of ages, from a younger, dark-haired Roosevelt to the older, war-weary president who died shortly after beginning his fourth term.
Lew’s choice for the other three presidents should not be as controversial.
Both CFA and CCAC voted for the same images of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, the other three presidents to be honored in 2014.
For Harding both selected a direct head-on portrait of the 29th president. In the CCAC’s balloting it received 21 of a possible 27 points to win the panel’s endorsement over six other proposed obverses.
For Coolidge, both panels selected a leftward facing portrait of the 30th president. That design drew 19 points from CCAC members and finished well ahead of the other four designs.
For Hoover, both selected a leftward facing portrait of the 31st president. That view, one of seven, led the CCAC balloting with 17 points.
New Edith Wilson designs
The Mint also presented the two panels with new designs for the reverse of the 2013 First Spouse gold $10 coin for Edith Wilson. The CFA and CCAC both had rejected all the Mint’s designs for the reverse presented to them during their March meetings
During its April 19 meeting, the CCAC recommended a design showing her hand steadying the president’s hand holding a cane.
Edith Wilson was the second wife of Woodrow Wilson. The CCAC had said that the Mint’s previous designs failed to capture her role in effectively managing Wilson’s presidency after he suffered a stroke.
Erik Jansen, a Washington state collector who serves on the CCAC, said the design was “a powerful, simple image.”
“This is what we’ve been asking for,” agreed Pennsylvania artist Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, praising “the simplicity” of the design.
“This is everything we’ve been asking for,” Scarinci said. “The potential of this design would be spectacular on metal.”
The design drew 26 points in the balloting, making it one of the highest rated designs of the meeting.
CCAC Chairperson Gary Marks told the Mint his panel would not revote on the obverse but would continue to support the obverse it backed in a previous meeting.
The Commission of Fine Arts selected a different design for the reverse of the Edith Wilson coin during its April 18 meeting. Its members selected an image of Edith Wilson handing the president a piece of paper while he sits at a desk, his right hand holding a pen poised above a document resting on the desk.
2014 First Spouse coins
The CCAC reviewed biographical memos to be shown to Mint artists to help them in designing the 2014 First Spouse coins. The coins will honor Florence Harding, Grace Coolidge, Lou Hoover and Eleanor Roosevelt.
The papers drew praise from the panel, which has been critical of previous First Spouse biographies for failing to dig into the spouses’ roles in their husbands’ presidencies.
Scarinci said he would “like to see Eleanor Roosevelt as a giant” in her own right, not simply as a presidential spouse.
Congressional gold medals
The two panels also recommended images for the latest in a series of congressional gold medals honoring Native American tribes whose members served as code talkers during World War I and World War II. The number of tribes to be honored now numbers 32, Mint officials said. The latest medal will go to the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma.
The CCAC recommended an obverse showing a World War II infantryman communicating on a field radio that drew 22 of a possible 27 points. For the reverse, they back a design showing an eagle head and two lacrosse sticks.
The CFA had backed a design also showing a infantryman for the obverse and a design with two lacrosse sticks for the reverse.
The CCAC concluded its session by meeting with a delegation of family members from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The victims of those attacks are to be honored by three gold medals.
One medal will honor those who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers in New York, another medal will honor those who died at the Pentagon and a third medal will honor the dead on Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought the terrorists who had hijacked the plane for use in another attack. ■