U.S. Marshals Service designs offer a daunting challenge

Designers, CCAC deal with legislative requirements for 2015 coins
Published : 03/14/14
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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 law says. 

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.” 

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