US Coins

CFA reviews, picks American Legion designs

It took the Commission of Fine Arts about 10 minutes March 15 to do what had taken the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee about three hours to do two days before.

But there was one significant change from what the CCAC had suggested two days earlier, in what the CFA recommended for the three-coin set that will mark the 100th anniversary of the American Legion in 2019.

That change came at the urging of American Legion representatives.

April Stafford, head of the U.S. Mint’s design management, told the CFA March 15 that the Legion had changed one of its six recommendations for the set.

The service organization no longer wanted the reverse of the gold $5 coin to show a folded American flag being presented to a veteran’s family, she said.

Instead, the Legion opted for an image showing a soaring eagle and the Legion’s emblem, she said. The Legion’s new choice for the $5 coin reverse had been presented among the options for the silver dollar’s reverse.

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Asked to comment on the Legion’s switch of designs for the gold coin, Chanin Nuntavong, a spokesman said: “The new pairing of the $5 gold coin represents ties to our founding in Paris following World War I (obverse); and captures our 100 years of contribution to the United States of America as a stalwart champion of patriotic values, morals, culture and citizenship (reverse). Our leadership felt that this specific pairing best tells the story of The American Legion’s dedication to our country, and these designs are the most appropriate to be on the gold coin.”

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Without any debate, the three members of the commission quickly endorsed all six of the Legion’s recommendations, including the switch.

But since the panel lacked a quorum, their recommendation will have to be ratified by the full commission at the next meeting April 19. Most likely that will be a formality, noted commission secretary Thomas Luebke.

Commission Vice Chairman Elizabeth K. Meyer, who led the panel’s brief discussion of the coin designs, said she liked a change recommended by the CCAC that called for a small fleur-de-lis, a French symbol, to be placed on the recommended silver reverse in place of a key stone from the Arc de Triomphe.

Meyer also called the Mint’s suggested pairings of designs for obverse and reverse “quite nice.”

Architect Alex Kreger questioned the size of the Legion cap that was worn by a young girl in the recommended clad obverse, but seemed satisfied when told the girl was wearing her grandfather’s hat.

The CFA recommendation, with that of the CCAC, will go to the Treasury secretary, who is responsible for approving all coin designs.

The two panels have agreed the obverse of the gold coin should carry an image of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where American servicemen from World War I planned the Legion in 1919. That design will also carry a large “V” for victory over the French landmark.

The silver dollar obverse would feature the Legion’s emblem surrounded by oak leaves and a lily. The copper-nickel clad half-dollar will feature a pair of youngsters saying the Pledge of Allegiance on the obverse and a fluttering flag as seen from a child’s perspective on the reverse. 

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