Dear Mr. Peterson:
In its meeting of 21 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed designs submitted by the United States Mint for the seventh set of ten-dollar gold coins and associated medals in the First Spouse series. The Commission's recommendations were as follows:
Ida McKinley. The Commission recommended obverse alternative #1 as the best likeness, expressing appreciation for the profile pose. For the reverse, the Commission recommended alternative #2 with the request that Mrs. McKinley's right hand be extended through the decorative border motif, consistent with the depiction of the left, to avoid the impression of a disembodied hand.
Edith Roosevelt. The Commission recommended obverse alternative #2 which is based on the portrait favored by President Roosevelt himself, with the request for further separation between Mrs. Roosevelt's nose and the text "Liberty" on the coin design. For the reverse, the Commission did not support any of the alternatives but encouraged a redesign of the theme presented in alternative #3. Improvements should include the accurate depiction of the column capital; possibly shifting the column to the left to include more of the White House facade; eliminating the rose as a superfluous element; and moving the text "1902" to the location occupied by the rose.
Helen Taft. The Commission recommended obverse alternative #1 as the best portrait. For the reverse, the Commission recommended alternative #4, praising the abstracted cherry blossom design as a strong symbol for the coin and medal.
Ellen Wilson (1913–14). The Commission recommended obverse alternative #2 as the best design in near-profile. For the reverse, the Commission supported alternative #5, commenting that the design could be refined by clarifying the relationship of the White House and the roses, perhaps reducing the scale of the flowers and shifting the White House away from the border.
Edith Wilson (1915–21). The Commission recommended obverse alternative #3 as having the highest artistic merit. The Commission did not make any recommendation for the reverse, agreeing with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee that the theme of Mrs. Wilson's service during the President's infirmity is promising for further development. Commenting that the poses and clothing are problematic in the submitted alternatives, they recommended that this theme would be strengthened if the figures of both President and Mrs. Wilson were seated.
The Commission requests the submission of new alternatives for its review where none could be recommended. 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: April Stafford, U.S. Mint