US Coins

Fine Arts Commission makes Mayflower recommendations

The Commission of Fine Arts met April 18 to review and recommend designs proposed for a 2020 24-karat gold $10 coin and a silver medal, both to recognize the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims disembarking from the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.

While the coin and medal are “commemorative” in nature, neither is specifically authorized by congressional legislation. The coin and medal are being issued under discretionary authority granted by Congress to the Treasury secretary.

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The CFA’s recommendation for the gold $10 coin obverse, according to the U.S. Mint narrative, is one of four designs that “depict a Wampanoag family watching from the border of the design as the Mayflower arrives from foreign shores. A young boy steps on the border, representing the intersection of the Wampanoag people in their Patuxet homeland and the Mayflower passengers.”

The recommended reverse design is from those submitted and intended for use as an obverse. The design “depicts portraits of a Pilgrim man and woman, representing the beginnings of a transition from monarchy to democracy. The dual portraits symbolize a democratic organization, with their resolute expressions focused on a self-determined future,” according to the Mint’s description.

For the silver medal obverse, the CFA recommends a design that “features a Mayflower family bracing against the cold and windy weather, foreshadowing their coming hardships, while the Mayflower is anchored in the harbor. The local flora and fauna on the border, along with a Wampanoag triangle design represent the Wampanoag homeland.”

The CFA-favored reverse design for the silver medal “depicts a Wampanoag man and woman employing a planting technique used to grow several crops that were staples for the Wampanoag people. This method helped keep the soil healthy, maintaining the resources for annual plantings and successful harvests. The inscription ‘SUSTAINERS OF LIFE’ recalls not only this sustainable planting technique but the critical skills the Wampanoag people afforded to the Pilgrims by teaching them how to successfully plant and harvest the land.”

Authority to strike coins

Authority for the gold coin is in the United States Code. “The Mint is producing this special gold coin in accordance with the authority at 31 U.S.C. §5112(i)(4)(C) whereby ‘The Secretary may continue to mint and issue coins in accordance with the specifications [for 22-karat American Eagle Gold Coins] at the same time the Secretary in [sic] minting and issuing other bullion gold coins under this subsection in accordance with such program procedures and coin specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time,’?” Mint officials said.

CFA members were informed the gold $10 coin being pursued by the Mint will be 24-karat gold (pure), not 22-karat (.9167 fine) like the American Eagle gold coin series.

Authority to strike medals

Authority for the issuance of the silver medal is “pursuant to 31 U.S.C. §5111(a)(2), ‘The Secretary of the Treasury may prepare national medal dies and strike national and other medals if it does not interfere with regular minting operations but may not prepare private medal dies,’?” according to Mint officials.

Diameter and fineness of precious metal for the proposed silver medal, as well as its planned finish, are not yet disclosed. Mint officials in recent years have issued silver medals of various specifications.

The U.S. Mint’s Presidential silver medals are struck on the same .999 fine silver planchets used to strike American Eagle 1-ounce coins. Their diameter is 40.6 millimeters, or 1.598 inches. The Presidential medals have a Matte Finish.

The 2018 World War I 100th Anniversary silver medals had diameters of 38.1 millimeters, and a composition of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper, with a Proof Finish.

The U.S. Mint has released few details about the initiative, including whether the gold coin and silver medal will be limited editions with set mintages, or offered separately, or as parts of a set. 

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