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During the month of March, some important developments concerning upcoming and possible U.S. Mint programs were announced. They include recommendations for the designs of the 2019 American Legion centennial commemorative coin program; the themes for the Native American $1-coin program for 2021 through 2024; and a possible successor to the America the Beautiful quarter dollar coin series.
On March 13, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee met at the Mint’s Washington, DC headquarters to review possible designs for the suite of three commemorative coins that will be issued next year to honor the 100th anniversary of the American Legion. As is the norm, this will include a $5 gold coin, a silver dollar and a clad half dollar.
The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ organization, was founded in Paris in 1919 at the end of World War I. It was founded on four main pillars: veterans’ affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism and children and youth. The almost 14,000 posts of the organization offer scholarships, education, advocacy, health services, mentoring and other programs focused on the well-being of veterans’ and their communities.
The CCAC’s members did not initially respond well to the proposed designs during the meeting, and member Donald Scarinci, a New Jersey lawyer and medal collector, said his advice was to reject all of them and for the Mint to start over, and other members also expressed reservations about many of the designs prepared by the Mint’s artists.
In the end, the committee endorsed (with some members still having reservations about some of the designs) a selection of designs that representatives of the Legion preferred, which include: for the silver dollar the Legion’s emblem surrounded by oak and laurel on the obverse, and crossed American and American Legion flags with simplified elements of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on the reverse; for the $5 gold obverse a “V” for victory on top of an image of the Eiffel Tower in Paris with a rim of geometric patterns, and an American flag properly folded on the reverse; and for the clad half dollar obverse an image of two children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and an image of a waving American flag on the reverse as seen by the children.
On March 15, the other design review committee, the Commission on Fine Arts, had no difficulty reaching agreement on its suggestions and took only ten minutes compared to the three hours of deliberation at the CCAC. However, they made one change to the designs recommended by the CCAC, at the urging of the American Legion, which was to replace the $5 gold reverse design of a folded American flag with a design that shows a soaring American eagle on the right and the symbol of the legion on the left.
During the same March 13 CCAC meeting, the Mint unveiled the themes for the Native American dollars to be issue between 2021 and 2024, which were developed with input from members of the National Museum of the American Indian.
These include for 2021 American Indians in the U.S. military service; for 2022 Ely Samuel Parker, who was a lawyer, engineer and Seneca tribe diplomat. He served during the Civil War as adjutant to Lt. General Ulysses Grant and later was appointed by President Grant as Commissioner of Indian Affairs; for 2023 Charles Alexander Eastman, a Santee Dakota physician, writer, lecturer and activist for Native American rights, who also helped found the Boy Scouts of America; and for 2021 the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which granted Native Americans full U.S. citizenship but also preserved their citizenship and property rights as members of tribes.
Also on March 15, Rep. Barbara Lee (D- CA) and Bruce Poliquin (R- ME) introduced legislation for a new series of circulating quarter dollars, plus collector versions and 5-ounce silver bullion coins, that would honor prominent American women and the centennial of the ratification in 1920 of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote.
The idea behind the series is to draw attention to the many important accomplishments of women, who though they have helped shape our history in important ways, have rarely received the attention they deserve.
Under current law, the Treasury Secretary must decide by the end of this year whether to issue a second round of America the Beautiful coins, or to allow the program to return to the same obverse of George Washington that appeared on the quarter from 1932 to 1998, before the start of the 50-state quarter program.
If enacted, quarters would be issued for each state, territory, and the District of Columbia depicting prominent women who were residents of those locations, and the designs would be recommended by the governor or chief executive of each location and selected by the Treasury Secretary after consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including groups that support greater inclusion of women, U.S. Mint artists, and outside artists.
A maximum of five designs would be issued per year and the obverse designs cannot include busts or portraits or designs of any living person.
Until now the only real American women who have appeared on U.S. coinage are the nation’s first ladies plus suffragist Alice Paul and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics.
The new program is partly inspired by the Women on 20s movement of a couple years ago that allowed anyone interested to vote online for which woman they believed should replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. They selected abolitionist Harriet Tubman, but current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin has indicated his department has not yet decided whether it will move forward with that plan, which was approved by his predecessor, Jacob Lew during the Obama administration.
If you support the legislation (H.R. 5308), you should contact your congressional representative and ask them to support the legislation. The bill can also be amended, so you could also suggest changes to the program.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|