This article comes from our April 2017 monthly issue of Coin
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Faced March 16 with 62 proposed designs for the obverses and
reverses of five silver World War I medals, the Commission of Fine
Arts quickly settled on 10 recommendations.
Thanks to some prodding from Chairman Earl A. Powell III, the panel
agreed that the reverses each should feature the seal or a symbol of
the military branch separately honored on each of the five 2018 WWI
100th anniversary medals.
With that decision, the panel focused its attention on the medal obverses.
U.S. Mint officials made no mention in their presentation to the CFA
regarding the designs for the silver dollar that will honor veterans
of World War I on its anniversary. Winning designs determined from a
juried design competition for that coin are yet to be announced.
Members of the CFA served on the jury that selected those coin designs.
The CFA recommendations, by service branch, for the five 2018 silver
➤ Army: The recommended obverse design for the U.S. Army silver
medal shows a doughboy cutting through German barbed wire while a
second doughboy aims a rifle in a shattered landscape of broken trees
and cratered earth. In the distance, a shell explodes. The reverse
design would feature the current U.S. Army eagle crest, a design that
was in use in WWI.
➤ Navy: The obverse shows the destroyer USS Wadsworth escorting a
convoy and having discharged a depth charge. The recommended reverse
is a U.S. Navy emblem also featuring an eagle.
➤ Air Service: The commission rejected all eight proposed obverse
designs and recommends instead a proposed reverse that shows a Spad
XIII air fighter from the top and side. For the reverse it recommends
a design showing the wings of a military aviator, urging that some
additional lettering be added to the image.
➤ Marine Corps: For the obverse the commission endorsed an image
that portrays the beginning of the Battle of Belleau Woods. The design
shows two members of the 4th Brigade moving through an open wheat
field attacking German positions in what would be the corps signature
victory. For the reverse, the recommended design would be the Marine’s
Eagle, Globe and Anchor symbol.
➤ Coast Guard: For the obverse the CFA urged a design showing two
members of the Coast Guard — an officer and enlisted member — keeping
watch at sea with the cutter Tampa silhouetted in the background. The
service’s emblem would be replaced with a compass, while the emblem
would be used for the reverse under the CFA recommendations.
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The CFA also endorsed mock-up renditions of the legislated designs
for a palladium American Eagle bullion coin, as reported in a separate article.
At a meeting March 21, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee will be
considering those same designs. The CCAC’s previously scheduled
meeting was delayed a week because of a snowstorm that hit the East Coast.
The recommendations from the CCAC and the CFA will go to the new
Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who by law has the final say on
coin and medal designs.