So you want to design a coin? Now here's your chance!

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Published : 04/10/13
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You have a chance to become a part of numismatic history and get one of the ultimate coin collecting bragging rights.

You could forever regale your friends and impress new acquaintances by telling them that you designed a U.S. coin.

Actually, if you win this contest, you can claim three coins.

On April 11 the U.S. Mint will launch an open, public design competition for the shared obverse that will be used on the three 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.

That means that one lucky person’s design will be used on the copper-nickel clad half dollar, silver dollar and gold $5 piece.

The Mint will accept entries for a limited period starting on April 11 and the winner will get at least $5,000.

The competition rules — which approach 4,000 words — are available online at www.usmint.gov/batterup.

In the modern era, perhaps the best-known coin design competition was held in 1973 when the Mint held its first open design competition for reverse designs for the 1976 quarter dollar, half dollar and dollar honoring the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence.

The last time a broad design competition for a commemorative coin was held was back in 1991 when the Mint requested designs for the three coins celebrating the 1992 Olympic Games.

How does one succeed? The rules and history give some pointers:

Keep it classy! The rules state, “Because it is important that the Nation’s coinage bear dignified designs of which the citizens of the United States can be proud, designs must not be frivolous or inappropriate.”

Keep it simple! The guidelines for the 1991 competition called for simplicity in the coin designs, and said that the Mint was seeking designs that would best enhance the coins’ marketability to the public.

The Mint stated then, “‘busyness’ is generally undesirable for coin aesthetics and Proof die polishing ... If needed, ‘busyness’ is best done symmetrically, especially circular symmetry.” That makes sense today.

Keep it original! The 2013 rules make one thing crystal clear: The shared obverse design must be “emblematic of the game of baseball” but not represent any particular player or theme.

Surely, the Mint is trying to avoid the embarrassing problem that occurred with the winning design for the obverse of the 1992 Olympic silver dollar. Its depiction of a baseball pitcher firing a ball to home plate very strongly resembled a photograph of Texas Ranger pitcher Nolan Ryan on a contemporary, copyrighted Fleer baseball card. Whoops.

Now, boldly design a coin! Good luck from all of us at Coin World.

Best,

Steve Roach

sroach@coinworld.com

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