According to the tweets of Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee member Donald Scarinci (@Scarinci), CCAC Chair Gary Marks announced the establishment of a subcommittee to help U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy to initiate his vision for a neo-renaissance of U.S. coins. Members of the subcommittee will be made up Mitch Sanders, Donald Scarinci, Roger Burdette, Heidi Wastweet, and Gary Marks. Their report due by October 31, 2010.
During a presentation at the FIDEM conference on September 19, 2007, held in Colorado Springs, Moy said, “I want and intend to spark a Neo-Renaissance of coin design and achieve a new level of design excellence that will be sustained long after my term expires.”
Recently, Moy and the U.S. Mint came under attack from both the CCAC and the Committee of Fine Arts for the “overall disappointment with the poor quality” of the alternatives presented for the 2011 commemoratives,” as written in a letter to Moy from the CFA sent on May 28, 2010.
During the 2010 FIDEM conference, there were reports that the design of U.S. coins were not up to the standard set by Moy during his 2007 talk. None of the attendees to the conference in Finland would comment for the record, but the off the record comments were less then complementary about U.S. coin and medal designs.
Scarinci reported that “Support for the creation and mission of the historic first subcommittee of the CCAC is unanimous.” The CCAC included the May 28 letter from the CFA as part of their record.
When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, he initiated the “Golden Age of American Coin Design.” Using his bully pulpit, he held the designs of the U.S. Mint’s Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber in contempt and ordered coinage whose designs were more than 25 years old to be redesigned. Roosevelt was a fan of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and asked Saint-Gaudens to redesign the small cent. Rather than use the Liberty design in an Indian Headdress for the small cent, it was used on the 1907 $10 gold coin. Roosevelt also asked Saint-Gaudens to design the $20 gold double eagle coin to rival the beauty of all classic coins.
Roosevelt called this his “pet crime.”
With the decent of the political bureaucracy it would be impossible for a modern president to follow the example of Roosevelt. For those of us who lament the poor quality of the designs emanating from the U.S. Mint, we should support this new subcommittee and hope the figure out how to “fix” the processes and artistry of coin designs.