US Coins

CCAC reviews proposed 2020 American Innovation $1 coin reverse designs

Proposed designs for the reverses of the 2020 American Innovation dollars were reviewed and selections recommended Sept. 18 by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

The designs for the four 2020 coins reflect achievement and innovation in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and South Carolina.

Nineteen designs were reviewed for Connecticut, 14 for Massachusetts, 16 for Maryland and 10 for South Carolina.


The CCAC-recommended design for Connecticut depicts the Gerber Variable Scale being used to increase a geometric shape by 200 percent, a shape that resembles the state of Connecticut.

According to the U.S. Mint’s narrative, “While in college, H. Joseph Gerber invented the Gerber Variable Scale, often called the most revolutionary engineering tool since the slide rule. The scale uses a triangular calibrated spring as a computing element to eliminate all scaling and conversions between numerics and graphics. It assists in replotting curves and in interpolating contour lines from observed data. It can also be used to convert between proportional scales, for instance when enlarging or reducing an engineering drawing. By the 1950s, the variable scale was one of the most widely used tools for engineers and architects all over the world.”

An alternate design depicts the USS Nautilus beneath the surface of the Arctic. An atom represents the uranium-powered nuclear reactor that powers the submarine. 

The Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Commissioned in 1954, the boat was constructed in the state and today is a museum ship in Groton, Connecticut.


The favored recommendation for the Massachusetts Innovation dollar depicts the dial of an early rotary dial telephone.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received the first patent for a telephone, and the impacts of this innovation are felt around the world every day.

An alternate design recommendation depicts a slam dunk in basketball. The 20 on the player’s jersey represents the coin’s year of issuance, and the 13 stripes on the soles of each of the shoes represent the American roots of the game. The game of basketball was introduced in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith. 

The design was proposed for but not selected as a common reverse for the 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.


The design recommendation for the Maryland Innovation dollar depicts the Hubble Space Telescope orbiting the earth surrounded by a field of stars.

“Managed by teams at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute, both located in Maryland, the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes,” according to the Mint narrative.

“Data transmitted by Hubble has helped refine estimates of the age of the universe, trace the growth of galaxies, identify planets beyond our solar system, study the planets within our solar system, identify black holes, observe the birth and death of stars, and many other scientific discoveries.”

South Carolina

The CCAC recommended a design favored by South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster.

The design depicts civil rights activist Septima Poinsette Clark marching with three young African American students who carry books and an American flag, illustrating that education and literacy among oppressed people is necessary for empowerment and enjoyment of civil rights.


An alternate recommendation features Clark teaching at a blackboard, rendered as the U.S. Constitution, representing the concept of Citizenship Schools that helped African Americans learn to read and to understand the Constitution.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Clark pioneered the link between education and political organizing. She helped establish the first Citizenship Schools, teaching literacy and citizenship rights and helping establish local leaders for the Civil Rights Movement.

“Teaching people how to read and understand the Constitution helped black citizens pass the literacy tests used to disenfranchise black voters,” according to the U.S. Mint’s narrative. 

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