Dear Mr. Peterson:
In its meeting of 21 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed alternative designs for the 2012 Star–Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Program. The Commission members gave specific recommendations for the two coins of the program and offered several general comments concerning the Mint's submissions.
For the five–dollar gold coin, the Commission recommended obverse alternative #8, which they described as the most coherent and balanced composition with the best configuration of text and quality of drawing; they also suggested inclusion of the identifying text "Fort McHenry." For the reverse, they recommended alternative #8 for its simple abstraction of the flag of the flag; however, noting the lack of hierarchy among the various text elements, they recommended that the central design elements of this alternative be used composed within the circular–border format of alternative #7.
For the one–dollar silver coin, the Commission recommended obverse alternative #1 and commended the unusually high quality of the drawing. They requested that the smaller ship in the background be eliminated to simplify the composition, and that the text "War at Sea" be used—as shown in two other alternatives—rather than the reference to "Privateers" at the bottom of the coin; the overall proportions of the seascape composition may be adjusted as necessary. For the reverse design, the Commission recommended alternative #6 with the request to relocate the text to the circumference of the coin, and with the understanding that the rendition of [[the]] flag stripe colors may be adjusted for historical accuracy. They also recommended coordination of the typefaces for the obverse and reverse text.
In formulating these recommendations, the Commission members provided several general comments on the design of coins and medals. They reiterated their preference for simplicity in the design of these small objects, noting the excessive number of design elements in most of the submitted alternatives. They also reiterated their concern with the quality of the artwork and composition, encouraging the Mint to attract outside artists to the design process. Finally, they emphasized a preference for placing the standardized information of the coin, such as mottoes and denomination, toward the outer edge in a readily identifiable circumferential zone which would typically be separate from the central design elements; the typeface of the text should also be coordinated between the obverse and reverse.
As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Richard A. Peterson, Acting Director
United States Mint
801 9th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20220
cc: Kaarina Budow, U.S. Mint