An eagle and shield design triumphed over sketches featuring
allegorical figures when the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed designs
for the reverse of the Proof 2013 American Eagle platinum $100 coin.
The panel’s newest member, New York sculptor Teresita Fernández,
voiced concern over how well proposed allegorical figures on some of
the 11 designs the commission reviewed would be reproduced on the coin.
As a result, meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, members
recommended a design that she favored. It shows an eagle clutching the
arrows of war above a federal shield.
The coin will be the fourth in a series begun in 2009 that salutes
the core concepts embedded in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
The coin will likely cost nearly $2,000 because of the value of the
ounce of platinum it will carry.
The 2013 coin will highlight the requirement that the federal
government shall “provide for the common defence,” and uses the
spelling that was contained in the original preamble. The phrase is
placed on a scroll draped over the shield on the recommended design.
The commission’s favored design is one of two featuring an eagle
atop a federal shield. The design the commission favored shows the
scroll dropping across the shield, unlike the other design, on which
the scroll goes straight across the shield. The shields are of
different shapes on the two designs.
The commission urged the U.S. Mint to move the placement of the
required 1 OZ. designation from its current position below the eagle’s
right wing at the upper left, to join the inscription .995 PLATINUM,
found just below the shield.
The 11 proposed designs are likely to be presented to the Citizens
Coinage Advisory Committee for its review at a meeting scheduled for
Nov. 29. That panel’s recommendation, along with the commission’s
recommendation, will go to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who
will have the final word on the designs.
Ronald Harrigal, division chief of new product design, research
and development and acting chief engraver, presented the designs. He
said the actual wording from the preamble was used. Many modern
sources on the Constitution use the current spelling of “defense”
without noting the change.
The Mint offered several designs featuring the Greek goddess of
warfare. In one she carries a shield and in another she appears
alongside two allegorical figures who represent the executive and
legislative branches of government. In a third she appears along with
a scroll denoting on one side Congress and the commander in chief on
Another design features two allegorical figures behind a “defence”
shield, one holding a sword and the other a book of laws.
Another design shows a classic Liberty cap on pole above a pair of
shields and a scroll inscribed LIBERTY. One shield carries the word
DECLARE and a quill and scroll to denote Congress’ power to declare
war and the other shield shows an eagle’s talon holding arrows below
the word DEFEND.
A variation on the two-shield design features a profile of the
capped head of Liberty in place of the Liberty cap. This design also
lacks the scroll with LIBERTY.
On another design, a full standing figure of Liberty is featured
holding a sword on one design while a shield stands nearby. The
inscription TO PROVIDE FOR THE COMMON DEFENCE appears to the right of Liberty.
In another design a stern-faced Liberty is shown, sword in her
right hand, carrying a billowing American flag in the other hand with
the inscription TO PROVIDE FOR THE COMMON DEFENCE positioned along the rim.
A Minuteman, with a book in one hand and a rifle in the other, is
depicted against a stylized American flag in one design.
Fernández said she believed it was “quite problematic” whether the
Mint could reproduce the allegorical figures from the drawings.
She said design elements such as the cap show in several of the
designs would not be clearly reproduced.
As a result, she urged the commission to consider the design it
selected as “the clearest” of the proposed images.
Her fellow commissioners agreed, recommending that the “1 oz.”
designation be moved from the upper left. Don Everhart, a lead
sculptor-engraver from the Philadelphia Mint, agreed that change could
be made. ■