US Coins

CFA takes turn at recommending coin, medal designs

A design was recommended June 20 by the Commission of Fine Arts for the reverse of the 2026 Native American dollar.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint.

Proposed designs for the obverse and reverse of the Iran Hostage Crisis congressional gold medal and the reverse of the 2026 Native American dollar were considered and recommended to the Treasury secretary June 20 by the Commission of Fine Arts.

The advisory panel considered 10 proposed obverse and nine proposed reverse designs for the congressional gold medal, and nine proposed reverse designs for the reverse of the 2026 Native American dollar.

Iran Hostage Crisis medal

The proposed designs the CFA recommends for the gold medal are different from those favored June 18 by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

All of the proposed medal designs are thematic of the  Nov. 4, 1979, takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, by militant supporters of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, in a violation of international law, during which 66 United States diplomats, military personnel, and civilians were taken hostage; 52 of the hostages were held in captivity for 444 days until their release on Jan. 20, 1981.

The proposed obverse design the CFA recommends is one illustrates Liberty’s torch, as rendered from the Statue of Liberty, bursting through chains, symbolizing the burning desire for freedom while in captivity, along with the inscription IRAN HOSTAGES. The additional inscriptions COURAGE, SACRIFICE, RESILIENCE, and A GRATEFUL NATION REMEMBERS are featured along the border.

The CFA-recommended reverse design depicts a sprig of oak in symbol of strength and stability, representing the strength of character the hostages showed during 444 days in captivity.

According to the U.S. Mint’s design narrative about the recommended reverse, “The inscription, STRENGTH UNITY LOYALTY along the border, speaks to the qualities hostages exhibited during captivity. The dates of captivity and release, NOVEMBER 4, 1979, and JANUARY 20, 1981, and the inscription ACT OF CONGRESS 2022 round out the design.”

The medal is authorized under provisions of Public Law 117-320, signed by President Joe Biden.

Following the awarding of the gold medal by the congressional leadership to recognize the hostages collectively, the medal is to be forwarded to the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall be available for display as appropriate and made available for research.

The Treasury secretary has the authority to direct the U.S. Mint to design, strike and offer for sale to the public bronze duplicate medals bearing the same designs as the gold medal.

Such medals are often produced in 1.5-inch and 3-inch diameter sizes, and current pricing for previous such medals has the smaller medals at $20 and the larger medals at $160.

The composition of the 1.5-inch medals is 95% copper and 5% zinc while the composition of the larger medal is 90% copper and 10% zinc.

2026 Native American $1

The nine proposed reverse designs for the 2026 Native American dollar coin are thematic of the Oneidas providing food and aid to Gen. George Washington and his Continental Army troops at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the American Revolutionary War.

Oral tradition credits Polly Cooper, an Oneida woman, with cooking the donated corn and teaching the soldiers how to prepare it, since it requires special preparation to be edible.

When many of her fellow Oneidas returned home after delivering the food donation, Cooper remained with the Continental Army to continue aiding them.

This theme coincides with the broader coin themes for 2026 celebrating the U.S. Semiquincentennial authorized under Public Law 116-330, the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020.

The CFA-recommended reverse is a different variant of the proposed design favored by the CCAC.

The CFA design recommendation portrays Cooper holding a basket of corn, the Oneidas’ gift, as she shows a sample to  Washington, who holds his hat in an expression of gratitude and respect.

The rays in the background represent the significance of the Oneidas’ gift of corn to the starving soldiers.

Included among the inscriptions is POLLY COOPER.

CFA members suggest that, if the design is approved by the Treasury secretary, the starburst element behind and above the portraits of Cooper and Washington be removed and consideration be given to the placement of the denomination as $1.

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