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The Citizens Coinage
Advisory Committee’s review of five proposed World War I silver
medals began on an ominous note.
Donald Scarinci, the panel’s medal specialist,
lambasted all 62 medal designs the United States Mint had offered to mark the war’s
centennial in 2018. “I cannot support any of these designs,” he
announced at the March 21 meeting in Washington.
Another panelist also revealed during the public meeting some
details about the designs for the 2018 silver dollar commemorating
American involvement in World War I, catching Mint officials off
guard. The Mint intended to keep details of the designs secret until a
public rollout later this year.
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Scarinci, a vocal critic of Mint designs, claimed the proposed
“medals ... look like coins” and warned that none of the designs would
be a match for the yet undisclosed commemorative silver dollar that
will be issued with them.
But after a debate that showed Scarinci was not alone in his dour
view of the medal designs, the New Jersey lawyer joined the panel in a
compromise to avoid rejecting all designs. The compromise was a
unanimous decision to urge Mint artists to redesign each of the five
designs the panel endorsed.
It was Heidi Wastweet, a Seattle sculptor, who devised
the plan that one member said would “save” the World War I medal program.
Under her plan, Mint designers would be instructed to simplify the
five obverse designs, removing “unneeded” elements and transferring
most of the text from the obverse to the reverse. This, she said,
would make the designs look more like medals and less like coins.
Scarinci seemed to agree, telling the panel: “Since there is not
sufficient time for the Mint to show us new designs, we will have to
settle for these. Let the artists do the best they can hope they sell.”
Scarinci, who has long advocated a more modernistic U.S. medals
program, expressed concern that if the World War I medals do not sell,
the Mint’s marketing department would oppose future medal programs.
Wastweet also voiced a criticism of the medal plan for failing to
include women, a shortcoming that the CCAC quickly voted to solve.
They urged the Mint to add a sixth medal to the 2018 program, one
that would recognize the contributions women made to WWI.
Exactly what the World War I silver dollar will look like remains
under wraps, although three members of the CCAC were on a special
juried panel from a public design competition from which proposed
designs were approved.
Three members of the Commission of Fine Arts were also on the juried
panel, and it was chaired by a designee of then Treasury Secretary
2018 silver dollar
Although the Mint has not released details about the silver dollar’s
designs, one CCAC member who has seen them discussed the designs
during the meeting. Panelist Michael Moran said the commemorative dollar coin
will have an image of soldiers in battle on the obverse and a reverse
that shows both barbed wire and a field of poppies.
Moran, Scarinci and CCAC chair Mary Lannin were the CCAC representatives on the
panel chosen to judge the 2018 World War I American Veterans
Centennial silver dollar design competition.
Scarinci complained that the silver dollar would have a more modern
design than the proposed medal designs under review. The proposed
medal designs would have been fine for coins, he said.
He added that both the United Kingdom and France have adopted more
modernistic designs for their already issued World War I medals.
“We’re not there,” he groused, adding, “…This is going backwards.”
After the meeting, Scarinci said he was upset that the Mint did not
show the commemorative silver dollar design to the artists who
designed the medals.
“We have these boring designs today because the artists did not see
the approved WWI commemorative coin … which has a more modernist
design. The medals don’t go with the coin,” he said.
Lannin had urged the panel to find an alternative to Scarinci’s
suggestion to send all of the silver medal designs back to the Mint.
“We’ve got 10 very talented people sitting around this table,” she said.
Here are the designs that the CCAC endorses:
➤ Army: The obverse would feature a “doughboy,” rifle in hand,
standing before a 48-star U.S. flag; the reverse would show the
current Army emblem, with most of the text from the obverse design
moved to the reverse.
The other coin review panel, the Commission of Fine Arts, had
endorsed a scene showing a doughboy cutting through German barbed wire
while a second doughboy aims a rifle in a shattered landscape of
broken trees and cratered earth as a shell explodes in the distance.
It also recommended the Army emblem for the reverse.
➤ Navy: The obverse would depict a “four piper destroyer” dropping
depth charges in the Atlantic against a suspected German submarine.
The reverse would show the Navy’s emblem, along with wording moved
from the obverse.
The CFA endorsed a scene of the another Navy ship, the USS
Wadsworth, exploding depth charges as it escorted a convoy to
Europe, and the emblem for the reverse.
➤ Air Services: The obverse would feature two views of the Spad XIII
fighter, the same design proposed as a reverse and also endorsed for
the obverse by the Commission of Fine Arts.
The reverse would be the Military Aviators insignia with some of the
text from the obverse. The CFA also endorsed the same reverse design.
➤ Marine Corps: The obverse for this coin, also first suggested as a
reverse, would show the aftermath of the three-month-long battle of
Belleau Woods. One Marine kneels in respect and a second stands guard.
The reverse would feature the Marine Corps emblem, as also endorsed by
The CFA had backed a design showing two Marines in a wheat field at
the outset of the Belleau Woods battle.
➤ Coast Guard: The obverse would feature a lifeboat from the cutter
Seneca in rough seas to rescue the crew of the torpedoed
steamship Wellington. The reverse would feature the World War I
Coast Guard emblem with twin anchors and the motto “Semper Paratus.”
The CFA had urged a scene of two Coast Guardmen on watch during a
convoy mission for the obverse and the emblem for the reverse.
The recommendations will go to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin,
who has the final word on Mint medals and coins or can designate
someone else to choose.
How $75 worth of Thomas Jefferson’s silver
helped launch the U.S. Mint: Inside Coin World:
On the morning of July 11, 1792, Thomas Jefferson took a historic
two-block stroll through the streets of Philadelphia carrying $75
worth of his own silver.
The CCAC also endorsed the Mint’s design of the new bullion coin, a
1-ounce $25 face value palladium coin. As the authorizing law
requires, the obverse features a reproduction of the 1916 Winged
Liberty Head dime design of sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, and the
reverse adopts the eagle design from a gold medal Weinman created for
the American Institute of Architects.
The March 21 meeting is the second session in which Kareem Abul
Jabbar, the former National Basketball Association star and a coin
collector, participated. He called in to the meeting from Los Angeles,
but did not submit his ballot on the medals in time to be counted as
the 11th member at the meeting.
Also announced at the meeting was that CCAC member Thomas J. Uram
had secured a second four-year term on the committee with the support
of the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.