US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 6, 2018

Proposed as the common obverse for the 14-year American Innovation $1 coin program is a sparse, modified version of the Statue of Liberty reverse from the Presidential $1 coin series, which ran from 2007 through 2016.

Images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

Last week’s Monday Morning Brief focused on the American Innovation dollar and how it became law with little (if any) collector input. This week we visit the same program because there is some new news.

Let me make it clear that the initial blame for the American Innovation dollar coin dollar rests solely on Congress. The legislative branch of government authorized a new multi-year dollar coin series without asking the primary buyers of such items, collector customers of the U.S. Mint, whether they wanted such a program. Equally bad, Congress dictated design details, including a shared obverse portrait of the Statue of Liberty and the collector-despised edge inscriptions.

However, when it comes to the selection of the Statue of Liberty portrait for the first coin in the program, the blame falls squarely on the U.S. Mint. As Paul Gilkes reports here, U.S. Mint officials selected a design that has already been used — the one appearing on the reverses of the 2007 to 2016 Presidential dollars.

The Mint’s quick solution to a Statue of Liberty design selection was poorly thought out; officials should have anticipated that the collector community would reject that selection. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee strongly objects to the choice, as Paul reports in the article. I doubt that many collectors will be any more forgiving. The choice seems to based on nothing more than expediency.

Thanks to Congress, the Mint has to depict the Statue of the Liberty on the coins, but the Mint has a talented (if busy) team of staff and contributing artists. Surely those artists could create something new — a fresh face for Liberty. I suspect that buried somewhere in the artists’ files, unused Statue of Liberty designs are already sketched, ready to be reviewed, approved, and used.

The American Innovation dollar coin program is unnecessary and largely unwanted, but if it has to be carried out, then let us make sure that the designs selected are the best that can be created. Right now, that has not happened. 

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