The Commission of Fine Arts is moving toward a process that should
make its recommendations more like those of the Citizens Coinage
Meeting in Washington March 20, the CFA — the federal government’s
oldest coin review panel — invoked the new process as it informally
reviewed designs for 11 coins and one medal.
Only three members of the seven commission members were present for
the session, making all of the recommendations subject to approval by
the commission at its April 17 meeting.
A commission official said after the meeting that the full
commission is unlikely to change any of the coin recommendations.
Most of the CFA’s recommendations for six Presidential dollar coins,
three U.S. Marshals Service commemorative coins, two Native American
dollar reverses and one congressional gold medal are similar to those
the CCAC made earlier in the month.
Speeding up review process
CFA Executive Secretary Thomas Luebke said the commission’s
initiating the new process should make the CFA’s coin review process
faster by reducing the number of coin designs the panel reviews.
This should give the panel more time to deal with proposed federal
buildings and memorials in Washington, projects that constitute the
majority of its workload.
Instead of reviewing all the coin designs that the U.S. Mint has
been showing to the CCAC, the new process will restrict the CFA’s
public reviews to designs that have been endorsed by the CCAC or
stakeholder groups that have an interest in the coins or medals.
All the Mint designs were sent to the commission members prior to
the meeting, and Mint officials said they were free to call any of
them up for discussion.
The new process was developed with the Mint and CCAC
representatives, Luebke said.
The speedier process appeared to work. It took about an hour for the
commission to complete reviews of designs that the CCAC had spread
over two days.
Presidential dollar review
On the six Presidential dollars planned for release in 2015 and
2016, the three commission members agreed with the CCAC’s
recommendations for the 2015 Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower
dollar obverses, and 2016 Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford obverses.
In a departure with the CCAC, the CFA backed a Lyndon B. Johnson
design for 2015 showing the 36th president looking upward over the
CCAC’s preferred design showing Johnson looking straight ahead. The
CFA recommended that Johnson’s image be reduced in size to avoid
bumping into the type over his head.
The two panels also reached different conclusions on the John F.
The CCAC had recommended a somewhat downcast image of Kennedy for
his coin. However, the CFA rejected a Mint suggestion that this design
was appropriate was patterned after Kennedy’s White House portrait.
Commission member and sculptor Teresita Fernandez of New York argued
that the Kennedy pose may be fine for a painting, but on a coin the
public wants a straight image of the president.
In considering the Kennedy portraits for the dollar coin, the CFA
did not take a formal vote, but selected an image that the CCAC had
rejected. However, the CFA indicated Kennedy’s age depiction in that
image could be improved.
U.S. Marshals Service
The CFA also largely followed the CCAC’s recommendations for a
series of three commemorative coins honoring the U.S. Marshals Service
to be issued in 2015.
The three members endorsed the CCAC’s recommendations for the gold
$5 coin and the silver dollar obverse and the half dollar
copper-nickel clad obverse.
But the CFA urged tightening the word “Liberty” around the badge on
the dollar obverse and shifting the horse’s position on the half
The CFA urged removing the horizontal post on the reverse of the
silver coin and opted for a design showing the same Western marshal as
in the CCAC’s pick, but with a different type face than used on the
On the half dollar reverse, the CFA backed a design showing a
blinded Liberty as opposed to the CCAC’s choice. The CCAC had rejected
the Liberty figure in favor of a design showing symbols of the work
marshals have performed.
In both designs, the two panels recommended removing a pair of
handcuffs that were placed over the Constitution.
Native American dollars
For the 2015 Native American dollar, the CFA agreed with the CCAC’s
recommended reverse featuring the Mohawk Ironworkers and for 2016 the
Code Talkers design showing eagle feathers and Army helmets with the
notations for World War I and World War II replacing the dates on the designs.
First Special Service Force medal
For a congressional medal honoring the First Special Service Force
in World War II, the CFA endorsed an obverse design favored by the
members of that force showing the unit’s mountain climbing skills.
The CCAC had favored a design showing a soldier in winter combat for
For the medal’s reverse the CFA favored a design showing the unit
emblem, which the CCAC also endorsed.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew or his designee will select the final
designs for all the coins and medals after reviewing the findings from
both the CFA and CCAC. Lew is not obligated to approve any of the
designs recommended by either panel.