Lady Liberty: Classic vs. Modern
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and Commission on Fine Art’s recent recommendations for the 2015 High Relief $75 gold coin and silver medal program has received a lot of attention in the numismatic media and blogosphere.
As indicated by the letter from George Kissinger in the March 16 issue of Coin World, and in many other reactions from collectors to the proposed obverse design with a non-white or multi-cultural female Liberty, most collectors have a strong preference for classic depictions of Liberty. And they are not in general pleased with the proposed design.
This puts the typical collector at odds with the vision of the CCAC under its current chairman, Gary Marks, which is committed to modern depictions of Liberty.
The CCAC is not opposed to re-using the classic designs as seen in its ringing endorsement of the Mint’s proposed 2016 gold versions of the Winged Liberty Head dime, Standing Liberty quarter, and Walking Liberty half dollar.
But the CCAC’s members believe the classic designs of the past have been overused on modern coins, and that it is time for modern versions of Liberty on our coins. A key component of that vision is to depict the ethnic and cultural diversity of America.
Many collectors see that as a politically correct agenda. But Liberty is not a static concept, and since it or she has never been depicted as anything other than a Caucasian woman, perhaps it is that version of Liberty that is actually politically correct.
Collectors are clearly not opposed to all modern designs, which is clear from the quick sell-out a year ago of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coins.
But they also do not, on the whole, agree with the committee that the classic designs have been overused.
Moreover, they also favor designs that fuse classic and modern elements like the 2012 Star Spangled Banner commemoratives, or the new 225th Anniversary U.S. Marshals Service coins.
It is also interesting that collectors of modern world coins are also very keen on coins that reuse classic designs, so this is in many ways a worldwide trend.
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