Dear Mr. Moy:
In its meeting of 20 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the design of three proposed medals: a Congressional Gold Medal honoring Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; a medal honoring Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury; and a medal honoring your service as Director of the United States Mint.
The Commission members expressed dissatisfaction with the design of the medal honoring Mr. Blair and requested that it be revised and resubmitted, commenting that his likeness on the proposed obverse is awkward and does not convey his vitality. They emphasized that the direct adaptation of a photograph—the method used to generate this design—is not appropriate for developing numismatic sculpture, which has historically presented idealized images. For the reverse, the Commission questioned the inclusion of several elements of equal prominence, suggesting that the clasped hands be deleted and the position of the quotation adjusted accordingly.
For the medal honoring Secretary Paulson, the Commission also recommended revision. The Commission members commented favorably on the likeness of the Secretary on the obverse, but for the reverse they recommended further study, commenting that the multiplicity of elements should be simplified. They said that the inclusion of a falcon, along with the eagle in the U.S. seal, is confusing and suggested eliminating it in order to focus on the symbols of his federal service; alternatively, the image of the Treasury building or the seals could be removed to allow a clearer treatment of the remaining elements.
For the medal honoring your service as Director of the U.S. Mint, the Commission members commended the dynamic and bold character of the portrait proposed for the obverse; they preferred the layout of alternative DM-O-01C due to the smaller amount of text and the larger lettering and supported the proposal for a textured background. For the reverse, the Commission recommended a design containing the single torch in the configuration of alternative DM-R-02B and commented favorably on the varying background texture that suggests the flame's light; however, they recommended that the proposed Latin text be replaced with your title as the 38th Director of the U.S. Mint.
The Commission continues to be concerned that the development of the government's medals relies excessively on the preferences of the honoree and does not take full advantage of the mandated design and review process. As federal issue, commemorative medals produced by the Mint should exemplify the highest quality of artistry; their design is the responsibility of the government, not of the recipient.
The Commission looks forward to further review of the medals honoring Mr. Blair and Secretary Paulson. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Edmund C. Moy, Director
United States Mint
801 9th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20220
cc: Kaarina Budow, U.S. Mint