US Coins

Commission of Fine Arts recommends 2017 designs

When the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee debated March 15 what images should go on three commemorative coins to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Boys Town, it rejected one design after one member strongly urged them to avoid a scene that could be misinterpreted.

The CCAC member feared the design would be ridiculed by social media as an inappropriate image in an era of scandals about priests and child abuse.

That design features the Nebraska organization’s iconic pylon and also a priest’s hand on a boy’s shoulder.

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When the Commission of Fine Arts considered the same images, it quickly endorsed the design rejected by the CCAC. With virtually no debate, the CFA on March 17 backed a design for the gold $5 coin in the 2017 set that carries the Boys Town pylon and the scene of a priest with a child on the reverse.

Then, moments after architect Alex Krieger questioned “how many towers do we need,” the panel agreed to approve a second design featuring the pylon for appearance on the obverse of the copper-nickel clad half dollar.

The five commission members who considered the U.S. Mint’s paired images for the Boys Town set selected for the half dollar a pair of designs from those proposed for the silver dollar in the set. 

The obverse features two youths looking at the Boys Town pylon with the years 1917–2017, and the wording “Help a Child Today.”

The paired reverse features the images of four youngsters in graduation gowns above a view of the residential homes in which the children at Boys Town live today, with the inscription “Write the History of Tomorrow.”

The recommendations from the CFA and CCAC will go to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who will find that the only unity between the two reviewing coin panels was their agreement on what should be on the silver dollar in the set.

Both panels agree on the same design pair, initially proposed for the set’s half dollar, for use instead on the silver dollar. 

That would place the image of a young girl looking up at an oak twig on the obverse and the image of a family dancing under a large oak on the reverse.

As for the gold $5 coin, the five members said they like the kindly image of a downward looking Boy’s Town founder, Father Edward J. Flanagan, for the obverse. 

They also like the reverse’s image of a priest’s hand on the shoulder of a youngster looking toward the pylon, which Flanagan built to help youngsters locate the Boy’s Town campus, about 10 miles from downtown Omaha.

The CCAC had recommended an image of Flanagan on the gold obverse and a hand holding a young oak growing from an acorn on the reverse.

For the half dollar, the CCAC had urged an obverse depicting an older boy carrying a young polio victim on his back and a reverse showing a boy and girl looking at the Boys Town pylon. It had been proposed by the Mint as a design for the silver coin.  

2017 American Liberty

The CFA agrees with the CCAC’s recommendation on designs for the 2017 American Liberty, High Relief gold $100 coin and accompanying silver medal. 

The panel backs the image of an African American woman to serve as the allegorical Liberty figure for the obverse, part of an effort to show greater ethnic diversity on the nation’s coins. The proposed reverse shows an eagle in flight. 

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