Mint Director David Ryder looks at U.S. Mint's future
- Published: Aug 17, 2018, 8 AM
In its efforts to bring more vibrancy and innovation to American coin designs, the United States Mint will implement in 2019 a gold coin series espousing the Virtues of Liberty.
U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder said in an Aug. 14 interview with Coin World that, because so many people are unhappy with coin designs, he wants to “change it up” with designs whose originators are thinking “outside the box.”
Ryder, at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money, said the Mint will also be developing limited-edition numismatic products that collectors will want to collect.
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Ryder said he has already discussed the design issues with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, Commission of Fine Arts and the Mint’s engraving staff stationed at the Philadelphia Mint.
“The engraving and design staff are all for it,” Ryder said.
The Virtues of Liberty .9999 fine gold coin would likely be a $100 denomination, but not necessarily, says J. Marc Landry, acting associate director for the Mint’s numismatic and bullion directorate. The Mint would also offer collectors a .999 fine silver medal bearing the same designs as the gold coin, but with an enhancement that Landry was not yet willing to disclose.
After years of being limited in how it may market its coin programs, Ryder said that, for the current fiscal year, some $9.5 million has been approved by the Treasury Department that will allow the Mint to better to promote its products, with a commitment of 20 percent more for the following fiscal year.
“This will allow us to more actively pursue advertising and marketing both domestically and internationally,” Ryder said. “The key is, Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin understands we need to do this and have to do this for a long time.”
Older gold coins in storage
Ryder discussed another subject that recently made the news. The West Point Mint has been storing more than 4 million foreign gold coins for decades that were repatriated from World War II, including nearly 2,000 pre-1930 U.S. gold coins. Ryder said that, in 1992, while serving as the 34th Mint director, he wanted to empty the coffers and put the coins into the numismatic marketplace.
Ryder said he received opposition from several people who collected examples of the coins being held in Mint vaults, who didn’t want the stored coins released for fear it would drive down the value of their own coins.
“I think it would be great to be able to do something with those coins because each has a story to tell,” Ryder said.
Alternative alloys testing
The Mint is continuing its research and development into alloy alternatives for the 5-cent coin, dime, and quarter dollar denominations. The 5-cent and cent denominations currently continue to cost more than face value to produce. While alternatives exist for the 5-cent coin, there is currently no option for the cent, Ryder said.
To address the cost of the cent, Ryder said the Mint is working with the Federal Reserve to prompt the American public to put the billions of cents stored in jars, dresser drawers and the like back into circulation, resulting in lowering necessity for new coin production.
After leaving his Mint office in 1994, Ryder became heavily involved in the development of anti-counterfeiting measures for coins and paper money worldwide.
Anti-counterfeiting measures are high on Ryder’s list of priorities for protecting the nation’s coinage, he said, especially its bullion issues, which have been targeted by counterfeiters. Ryder said the Mint could address preventions against counterfeiting of its packaging while also tackling the greater issue of making adjustments to the coins themselves. Ryder said it would be best to introduce any such anti-counterfeiting devices into the actual coins. He said he has already met with representatives of four different companies who could contribute such technology.
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Ryder said there are both covert and overt concerns. “If the counterfeiters know about it, they can counterfeit it,” he said. He added that an internal steering committee at the Mint is addressing the anti-counterfeiting issues. He has also met with the Industry Council for Tangible Assets’ Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force and will continue to do so.
A vendor day is being scheduled to bring in additional anti-counterfeiting proposals, Ryder said.
Becoming director, again
This is Ryder’s second stint as Mint director, having served in the position in the 1990s. He was approved for the post again after, while on travel in Indonesia, he saw a news program broadcasting the swearing in of some of President Trump’s appointees and recognized an acquaintance as one of those people being sworn in. Wanting to be a part of the administration, Ryder contacted the individual about possible openings and was informed the Mint director’s post had been vacant for more than five years. Ryder said he submitted his name for consideration and was given the nod.
Ryder said that, in the few months since taking office as the 39th Mint director, he has visited all of the Mint facilities more than once and has been amazed by the changes since he was in office the first time, especially with technology. That technology will be tapped into for future numismatic products as well other coin and medal issues.
Mint technological ability will be challenged to produce the four-sided commemorative coins for the proposed 2022 series marking the 75th anniversary of the integration of Major League Baseball. Although the proposed program is still in the legislative consideration stages, the Mint’s production staff is already working toward development of such coins, Ryder said.
Second round of designs
With the CCAC’s refusal to consider the designs proposed for the 2018 dollar coin to introduce the 14-year American Innovation $1 Coin Program, Ryder said he has asked that a second set of designs be generated. The first set submitted to the CCAC were executed by the Mint’s engraving staff. The second set will include contributions from the Mint’s pool of outside artists with the Artistic Infusion Program, Ryder said.
The CFA will likely be presented with both sets of designs to consider, Ryder said.
Serving the customer
The Mint is constructing a new, large sales center on the first floor of Mint headquarter in Washington, D.C., to better serve the needs of customers visiting the nation’s capital. Ryder said before the Mint closed its sales center in Union Station, the outlet outperformed sales locations at the Denver and Philadelphia Mints, which are operated under private contract.
Additionally, Ryder said, he is meeting with world mints to develop partnerships for joint products to serve the customers of all involved.
Ryder said the Mint is already partnering with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in producing jointly packaged products. BEP Director Leonard Olijar said the Bureau will be posting BEP products on the Mint’s website.
Plans for heritage assets
There are plans to take select items from the Mint’s vast heritage assets on the road for display at conventions, Landry said. There is also the possibility of digitizing the items so they can be viewed online.
The U.S. Mint had hoped to bring all 11 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold double eagles stored at the Fort Knox Gold Depository in Kentucky to Philadelphia but dropped the idea because of cost. The plan had originally called for a six-month exhibition at the Philadelphia Mint. In lieu of that, the Mint opted to bring the most recently acquired example surrendered to authorities, along with two of the 10 former Langbord family 1933 double eagles retained by the government following years of litigation.
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