Dear Mr. Ryder:
In its meeting of 21 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed alternative reverse designs for the six “America the Beautiful” coins to be issued in 2020 and 2021 as circulating quarters and silver bullion coins. The Commission was pleased to take into consideration the preferences of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and of the Mint’s liaison for each site. The Commission members present provided the following recommendations and comments:
National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa). The Commission members supported the three design alternatives preferred by the site liaison. As their first choice, they recommended alternative #7 for its evocative depiction of the Samoan fruit bat. They also supported alternative #8 for its depiction of a Samoan man using a conch shell for ritual communication. Their third choice was alternative #3, with the suggestion that the composition’s dividing line be moved upward to allow more room for the depiction of the underwater scene.
Weir Farm National Historic Site (Connecticut). Acknowledging the Mint’s intention to submit revised designs for this coin, the Commission members offered several suggestions for refining the alternatives. They commented that the landscape and outdoor painting are essential themes that should be conveyed in the design. While encouraging the compositions that depict a painting on an easel in an outdoor setting, they recommended that the design convey J. Alden Weir’s Impressionist style in contrast to the landscape beyond. They commented that the low stone wall seen in alternative #1 is a distinctive feature of the Connecticut landscape that could be included in new alternatives if authentically depicted. They agreed that alternative #4 would be improved by removing the small shed at the lower left, possibly placing an easel in this part of the composition.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (U.S. Virgin Islands). The Commission members recommended alternative #7, which they said best combines the flora and fauna of the park; they suggested positioning the water line higher and improving the detail and visual contrast of the mangrove roots. They commented that alternative #1, the preference of the CCAC and the site liaison, has an unrealistically perfected depiction of a mangrove.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (Vermont). The Commission members recommended alternative #8, the first choice of the site liaison, due to its compelling image of a child planting a tree. They suggested adding a background line in the composition to depict the silhouette of the site’s hilly topography, a feature of some of the other alternatives.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas). The Commission members recommended alternatives #5 and #9 as having the best potential for conveying the scale, wildlife, and grasses of the tallgrass prairie. They suggested further simplification of alternative #5 to improve the design’s clarity, perhaps omitting the prairie chicken from the composition. For alternative #9, they suggested backing out the view in order to show more of the prairie grass and to convey a sense of its dramatic height.
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama). The Commission members recommended alternative #1, consistent with the preference of the CCAC and the site liaison. They cited the text inscription as more readily understood than the cryptic double-V motif on many of the alternatives, and they supported the inclusion of the airplanes and control tower as part of the composition.
As a quorum was not present for the review of this submission, the recommendations will be placed on the administrative agenda for confirmation at the Commission’s next meeting on 19 July. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
David Ryder, Director
United States Mint
801 9th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20220