US Coins

Commission of Fine Arts reviews silver medal designs

This article comes from our April 2017 monthly issue of Coin World. Want to get all of our content, including special magazine exclusives? Subscribe today!

Faced March 16 with 62 proposed designs for the obverses and reverses of five silver World War I medals, the Commission of Fine Arts quickly settled on 10 recommendations.

Thanks to some prodding from Chairman Earl A. Powell III, the panel agreed that the reverses each should feature the seal or a symbol of the military branch separately honored on each of the five 2018 WWI 100th anniversary medals.

With that decision, the panel focused its attention on the medal obverses.

U.S. Mint officials made no mention in their presentation to the CFA regarding the designs for the silver dollar that will honor veterans of World War I on its anniversary. Winning designs determined from a juried design competition for that coin are yet to be announced. Members of the CFA served on the jury that selected those coin designs.

Design recommendations

The CFA recommendations, by service branch, for the five 2018 silver medals are:

??Army: The recommended obverse design for the U.S. Army silver medal shows a doughboy cutting through German barbed wire while a second doughboy aims a rifle in a shattered landscape of broken trees and cratered earth. In the distance, a shell explodes. The reverse design would feature the current U.S. Army eagle crest, a design that was in use in WWI.

??Navy: The obverse shows the destroyer USS Wadsworth escorting a convoy and having discharged a depth charge. The recommended reverse is a U.S. Navy emblem also featuring an eagle.

??Air Service: The commission rejected all eight proposed obverse designs and recommends instead a proposed reverse that shows a Spad XIII air fighter from the top and side. For the reverse it recommends a design showing the wings of a military aviator, urging that some additional lettering be added to the image.

??Marine Corps: For the obverse the commission endorsed an image that portrays the beginning of the Battle of Belleau Woods. The design shows two members of the 4th Brigade moving through an open wheat field attacking German positions in what would be the corps signature victory. For the reverse, the recommended design would be the Marine’s Eagle, Globe and Anchor symbol.

??Coast Guard: For the obverse the CFA urged a design showing two members of the Coast Guard — an officer and enlisted member — keeping watch at sea with the cutter Tampa silhouetted in the background. The service’s emblem would be replaced with a compass, while the emblem would be used for the reverse under the CFA recommendations.

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The CFA also endorsed mock-up renditions of the legislated designs for a palladium American Eagle bullion coin, as reported in a separate article.

At a meeting March 21, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee will be considering those same designs. The CCAC’s previously scheduled meeting was delayed a week because of a snowstorm that hit the East Coast.

The recommendations from the CCAC and the CFA will go to the new Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who by law has the final say on coin and medal designs. 

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