In one of its most dramatic design recommendations, the Citizens
Coin Advisory Committee has urged flipping designs proposed for 2012
Star Spangled Banner gold and silver coins.
Meeting in Washington, D.C., on July 26, the panel recommended an
obverse showing Lady Liberty holding the U.S. flag above Baltimore’s
Fort McHenry for the silver dollar instead of placing the image on the
gold $5 coin.
It also recommended that a proposed silver dollar obverse, showing
the bow of an American warship plowing after a burning British ship
during the War of 1812 become the obverse of the gold $5 coin.
CCAC Chairperson Gary Marks pressed the committee to approve the
change, arguing that the Lady Liberty design would not work on the
small gold coin. But, he promised, it would be “an absolute home run
on a silver dollar.”
Turning to representatives of a Maryland 1812 Bicentennial
Commission that stands to make millions from surcharges on the two
coins, Marks said he was confident collectors will love the silver
dollars. “I will buy many of these,” he said, predicting that the
collectors will be delighted with the coin.
The best designs should be placed on the silver dollar, not the
gold coins, he told the Maryland 1812 Bicentennial Commission.
“Your flagship coin in the set is the silver dollar,” he told Bill
Pencek, executive director of the commission. Especially in the
current economic times, the silver dollar sales will far outstrip
those of the gold coin, Marks said.
Noting that his committee is composed of many coin collectors, he
added: “We’re telling you what is going to sell.”
Some members of the CCAC initially were reluctant to follow Marks’
suggestion, fearing that the changes might be so out of step with the
thinking of U.S. Mint officials that they might not be taken seriously.
Kaarina Budow, a Mint official, sought to assure the panel that
its suggestions are always taken seriously. “Your comments are
seriously considered,” she said.
With those assurances, the panel agreed to Marks’ proposal for how
to find the best pair of designs for each of the coins.
Instead of first voting on the gold coin’s obverse and then on the
gold reverse, followed by votes for the silver dollar’s obverse and
the silver reverse, Marks had the panel first select the two top
designs from all 33 designs offered by the Mint for both coins.
Under a voting system allowing each coin to receive up to three
points from each CCAC member, two of the three proposed Lady Liberty
images emerged tied. Each had 17 points out of a possible 24 points in
Marks then called for a show of hands, which gave five points to
the design that shows Lady Liberty with the fort in the background to
three votes for one that shows an aerial outline of the fort next to
The committee then unanimously agreed that the design gaining five
points should be on the silver dollar obverse, not the gold coin as
the Mint had recommended.
The design recommended for the obverse of the silver dollar
showing Lady Liberty proved a popular one.
Arthur Houghton, former president of the American Numismatic
Society, called the design “big, bold, beautiful, even inspiring.”
Seattle sculptor Heidi Wastweet said she found the design “a nice
marriage of the country’s iconography.”
The initial balloting also revealed 15 points being accorded to a
silver dollar obverse that shows the bow of an American ship with the
image of a burning British ship in the background. The committee then
voted to recommend that for the gold coin obverse.
The CCAC then turned to the issue of reverses, urging that two of
the nine U.S. Mint’s silver dollar reverse designs be used as the
reverses of the two coins. That effectively rejected all eight
reverses proposed for the gold coin.
The CCAC urged the reverse of the silver dollar be a modern
close-up of a billowing U.S. flag.
For the gold reverse it urged a design showing two flags, one the
American flag as it was in the War of 1812 and the other a
contemporary 50-star flag, with the inscription long may it wave
appearing on a scroll.
Each design received 13 points out of a possible 21 points. The
remaining votes were scattered among other designs, Marks said.
The action places the CCAC at odds with the Commission of Fine
Arts (see related article, Page 5), and the Maryland commission.
The Maryland commission had favored the Lady Liberty image for the
gold coin obverse and a design showing Francis Scott Key penning the
poem “Star Spangled Banner” for its reverse.
For the silver dollar the Maryland commission had favored a design
showing sailing ships at war and for its reverse it favored the Fort
Marks expressed confidence as the meeting concluded that the
committee had lived up to his hopes of selecting two good pairs of
designs for the coins.
The meeting was the first for Michael Bugeja, a new appointee to
the CCAC as a numismatic expert. Acting Mint Director Richard Peterson
swore him into office at the start of the meeting.
Bugeja is director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and
Communication at Iowa State University of Science and Technology.
Bugeja is the author of 20 books and a Coin World monthly
column, “The Home Hobbyist.” ■