US Coins

Commission of Fine Arts agrees, splits with CCAC

The Commission of Fine Arts has offered its opinion on proposed designs for the 2020 medals commemorating the Coast Guard and Air Force, the 2021 and 2022 Native American Dollars, and the 2021 through 2025 Five Freedoms American Eagle platinum coins. 

In its Oct. 18 session, the CFA generally echoed the views of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, which considered the same designs on Oct. 16. 

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For the Air Force medal, the CFA picked the same obverse as the CCAC, which featured a partially masked jet pilot and fighter jets rising from the earth.

CFA members expressed their concern about the reverse proposed by the Air Force, which featured the Air Force Honor Guard and the Air Force Memorial in Washington, D.C., as the honor guards and the pilot motifs would result in a two-headed medal, members said.The CFA thus recommended as a reverse taking the text of the Air Force-recommended reverse and adding it to a design that had been submitted for review as an obverse, featuring a falcon, the mascot of the Air Force, and a lightning bolt symbolizing the speed and power of the Air Force. 

The CFA agreed with the CCAC’s obverse recommendation for the Coast Guard medal, though members did express reservations about the obverse design, featuring a modern cutter steaming toward the viewer. Worrying that the cutter rides too high in the water, the CFA wanted to have the design modified, to change the position of the ship, adjust the waves, and possibly add a horizon lines.

The CFA recommends a reverse depicting the Coast Guard logo.

Native American dollars

The CFA expressed support for one of the two designs recommended by the Mint and Native American advocacy liaisons for the 2021 Native American dollar, intended to honor the service of Native Americans in the military. The design features a split portrait of Native American warrior, half clad in traditional Native American garb from the past, the other half outfitted with modern combat gear. The CFA also expressed support for a variant of the design recommended by the CCAC for the 2021 coin. Both depict a pair of eagle feathers underneath five stars representing the five branches of the U.S. military, but the CFA’s preference has a stippled background while the CCAC selection has a plainer background.

For the 2022 design, the CFA concurred with the CCAC’s recommendation for the dollar’s reverse, a seated depiction of Ely Parker holding a quill. The CFA also supported a second design showing Parker with two quill pens symbolizing his achievements in two spheres, the U.S. military and Native American society. 

American Eagle platinum coins

For the five-year Five Freedoms American Eagle platinum coin program, unlike the CCAC, the CFA expressed approval of the Mint’s approach of offering coordinated groupings of obverse designs by the same artist, stating that it would provide artistic consistency for the series. Further, the CFA like and recommended several of the sets, being less critical of the designs than the CCAC was. 

They particularly liked a set of designs featuring different renditions of the life cycle of an oak tree to represent the five freedoms, a set that the CCAC expressed serious skepticism about. The CFA also liked a set featuring a pair of hands enacting the five freedoms, and the first set of designs submitted, which featured traditional images of Liberty as a woman in ancient garb; they did note, however, that the depiction of Liberty representing the freedom of religion needed significant work. 

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