The Citizens Coinage
Advisory Committee rejected designs for two of five 2017 quarter
dollars proposed for the America the Beautiful series.
But the panel also lavished praise on one of the three quarter
dollar designs they do recommend, saying it is so gorgeous it could
become the most beautiful coin of the 56 quarters in the series.
The design that won the CCAC’s plaudits at its Oct. 8 meeting, the
second day of a two-day session in Washington, D.C., depicts a spiny
softshell turtle bobbing its head toward an approaching kayaker on
Missouri’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
That isn’t the design that park officials had endorsed, and Dena
Matteson, the park’s acting chief interpreter, needed to be convinced
that the park’s iconic Alley Mill was a nonstarter as a coin.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to make them unhappy,”
said attorney Donald Scarinci, predicting a lopsided vote in
favor of the turtle design.
But he added that the chosen design will produce “a really special
coin. It’s going to be the coin of the set,” he said.
“This is a spectacular coin. This will be the standout,” agreed
former CCAC chair Gary Marks. “You have a home run here.”
“Other national parks will be jealous,” said Mary Lannin, the current CCAC chair.
Sculptor Heidi Wastweet of Seattle said the turtle design
is so powerful “it makes me want to go see that park.”
“The turtle rules,” announced Lannin.
The committee assigned 25 points out of a possible 27 points to the
design showing the submerged turtle.
Committee members may assign up to three points for each design they
like under a voting plan that shows the relative strength of the
various coin designs.
A design showing a canoeist paddling down the river with cliffs in
the background was the committee’s second choice, drawing 13 points.
The CCAC’s delight with the Ozark designs, however, did not deter
the panel from rejecting all the U.S. Mint’s 14 proposed designs for
the Effigy Mounds National Monument quarter dollar
in Iowa or the eight for New Jersey’s Ellis
Island, part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The panel sent designs for both those coins back to the artists for
another try, saying they fail to clearly display the massive,
mysterious mounds along the Mississippi River or correctly portray the
historic role of Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of immigrants
to the U.S.
“Being from New Jersey, I can’t let this stand,” said Scarinci, who
pressed for the Ellis Island coins to be redesigned.
He convinced the panel that the designs can be more dramatic,
displaying the critical role that the island played in the lives of immigrants.
“I don’t think we got it by far,” said the lawyer.
Wastweet pushed against the U.S. Mint’s suggested designs for the
Iowa mounds, saying they were “very difficult for the artists.”
Thomas Uram, a Pennsylvania collector and
president of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, was more
blunt. The mounds “look like blobs,” he said.
“None of these designs really hit the mark,” Wastweet said.
The artists should “try one more time,” she said.
The committee recommended designs for the Frederick
Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C., George
Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Indiana, and a silver
dollar to mark the centennial of the Lions Club.
The National Park Service’s recommended coin to mark the Douglass
site came under fire from Scarinci who objected to the wishes of
several committee members who wanted the coin to show the famed
abolitionist orating from a podium.
Scarinci reminded his colleagues that the coin series is supposed to
honor sites — not individuals.
“Like it or not, we’re stuck with the building,” he said, citing
designs showing Douglass’ Washington home.
But Marks, sitting in his final meeting with the panel, argued the
coin represented “a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the man for
whom the park is named.”
The supporters for the orating Douglass held sway. The panel gave 21
of a possible 27 points to the Douglass image and 15 points to a
design showing Douglass in the foreground with his home in the background.
The George Rogers Clark coin design that the committee recommends
shows the February 1779 taking of a British fort in what was known as
the Northwest Territory.
The design shows Clark and two others sloshing through icy waters, a
design that CCAC member Robert Hoge challenged even after it won 22
points out of a possible 29.
None of the 12 other designs drew more than six points.
Hoge, a numismatic researcher, charged that the three soldiers in
the design are not properly armed. They don’t even have powder horns,
U.S. Mint officials promised to recheck the soldiers’ arms.
The coin designs are scheduled to be shown to the Commission of Fine
Arts Oct. 15.
After that, all recommendations will be sent to Treasury Secretary
Jacob Lew, who has the final word on U.S. coin designs.