Few laws authorizing new coins comes with as much detail as Rep.
Steve Womack, R-Ark., packed into his 2012 law creating a set of three
coins to honor the U.S. Marshal’s Service on its 225th birthday in 2015.
Not only does the law spell out what should be on each of the six
sides of the coins, it also offers a daunting challenge.
The designs should be “reminiscent of the dramatic and beautiful
artwork on the coins of the so-called ‘Golden Age of Coinage,’ ” the
The act cites the giant designers of that era: James Earle Fraser,
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Victor David Brenner, Adolph A. Weinman,
Charles E. Barber and George T. Morgan.
So when the U.S. Mint offered 47 designs for the coins — gold $5
half eagle, silver dollar and copper-nickel clad half dollar — some
members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee were fearful that
their hands would be tied.
“This program is a little unique,” is the way CCAC chair Gary Marks
put it when his panel began its discussions March 11 in Washington.
The problem, Marks said, is that so few coin laws are filled with
such detailed instructions as is the law providing for the U.S.
Marshal’s Service coins.
In the end, however, Marks, newly named city manager of Lebanon,
Ore., devised a way for his committee to have a say.
Here’s what the panel recommends:
➤ Half eagle obverse — A five-pointed U.S. Marshal badge set against
a western mountain range and carrying the words: “225 years of sacrifice.”
➤ Half eagle reverse — An eagle with a U.S. Marshal shield on its
breast and a draped flag resting across the eagle’s right wing. Near
the eagle’s left talons, a scroll carries the words: “E Pluribus
Unum.” The design also carries the wording “Justice Integrity Service”
along the rim.
➤ Silver dollar obverse — A five-pointed U.S. Marshal badge with
silhouettes of western Marshals Service law officers riding across the
bottom of the badge, with the words “In God We Trust” below, and the
➤ Silver dollar reverse — An image of a gritty marshal of the old
West, clutching a “Wanted” poster and surrounded by the words “Justice
Integrity Service” in an olden type face. )
➤ Copper-nickel clad half dollar obverse — A present-day female
marshal in the foreground, wearing an armored vest, and an Old West
marshal with horse and gun in the background. The panel voted to urge
the image of the woman be increased and her facial expression made stronger.
➤ Copper-nickel clad half dollar reverse — A collage showing symbols
related to the U.S. Marshals Service: a badge resting on a copy of the
Constitution, an 18th century whiskey jug (for the service’s role in
the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion), railroad tracks (to invoke its role in
the 1894 Pullman strike), schoolbooks (to show its role in ending
school segregation). The panel recommends that a pair of handcuffs be
removed from the design after one member said they would be seen as a
symbol of slavery.
Among the provisions Womack placed in the commemorative coin law was
one insuring that the first $5 million raised by surcharges on the
coin would go to a U.S. Marshals Museum, to be located in his
Gold medal designs
In its final action of a two-day meeting, the CCAC recommended two
designs for a congressional gold medal to be awarded to the First
Special Forces Unit, a joint American-Canadian unit that served in
World War II.
For the obverse, the panel voted to show a soldier in an Arctic
mountain scene with silhouettes of three soldiers climbing upward; a
star and maple leaf are shown to illustrate the joint nature of the unit.
This design secured 18 points in committee voting and a design
showing mountaineering, amphibious operations and a soldier in the
foreground drew 15 points.
For the reverse of the coin the panel strongly supported an image of
the unit’s insignia inscribed “Act of Congress 2013” and “First
Special Service Force.” It had 24 points, far outdistancing other designs.
The same coin and medal designs will be placed before the Commission
of Fine Arts on March 20. Their recommendations, along with those of
the CCAC, will be forwarded to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
Lew, or his designee, will have the final word on what will go on
the coins and the medal.