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Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee
801 Ninth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20220


January 21, 2011
The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner
Secretary of the Treasury
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Secretary Geithner:
The designs on United States coins and medals are more than simple illustrations on
small metal discs; they are expressions of the values, aspirations, and shared heritage of
our Nation. They serve as illustrations to the world of the essence and the story of
America. Therefore, the designs on United States coins and medals necessarily must be
of a quality and must reflect the inspiration appropriate and befitting of the ideals of our
great Nation.
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), acting in its statutory role to advise
the Secretary of the Treasury on any theme or design proposals relating to circulating
coinage, bullion coinage, congressional gold medals and national and other medals in
accordance with section 5135 of title 31, United States Code, recently completed a study
of the structure and procedures of the United States Mint as they relate to artistic design.
The goal of our study was to provide recommendations that would advance the quality of
designs on United States coins and medals by creating an environment that nurtures
artistic creativity and excellence.
On behalf of the CCAC, I am attaching the Committee’s report on its findings and
recommendations on the subject of artistic excellence, A Blueprint for Advancing Artistic
Creativity and Excellence in United States Coins and Medals: Analysis and
Recommendations (Blueprint).
A public meeting of the CCAC was held on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, at United
States Mint Headquarters in Washington, DC. At the meeting, the Committee reviewed
the Blueprint and subsequently adopted it on a unanimous vote.
The impetus for the Blueprint was the vision articulated by former United States Mint
Director Edmund C. Moy. On September 19, 2007, Director Moy delivered the opening

address at the biennial FIDEM Congress held in Colorado Springs. Speaking before
delegates representing 32 countries, Director Moy announced his vision “to spark a neorenaissance for coin design and achieve a new level of design excellence.” Shortly
thereafter he included the advancement of artistic excellence as a part of the formal
mission statement of the United States Mint.
On March 20, 2008, Director Moy conducted a Symposium for the Artistic Infusion
Program artists in Philadelphia. His charge to the artists attending that conference was to
“recreate the neo-Renaissance in coin design.” He said, “I want to surpass the golden age
of coin design which began at the start of the 20th Century. If the 20th century continues
to be called the Golden Age, I want the 21st century to be known as the “platinum Age”
of coinage.”
By June 30, 2009, the Office of the Director, United States Mint, produced a white paper,
“Aspiring to Artistic Excellence” which articulates and defines the meaning of artistic
excellence at the United States Mint. The introduction of the white paper noted, “The
United States Mint has achieved some great success with certain coin and medal design,
but overall, there is still much room for improvement.”
By the summer of 2010, the need to review the practices and procedures of the United
States Mint as they relate to coin and medal design had become abundantly clear. On
May 28, 2010, the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) issued a letter to
Director Moy, confirming Moy’s observation that there is “much room for
improvement.” The CFA letter comments that the quality of designs is “embarrassingly
low, both in the often amateurish character of the artwork and in the generally poor
compositions…” Members of the CCAC have repeatedly noted similar observations.
On July 27, 2010, the CCAC approved a new scoring system for evaluation of designs
which requires a minimum 50 percent score before any design may be considered for a
recommendation. Since implementing the new scoring system, the CCAC has reviewed
128 designs. Only 18 of those designs earned scores from the Committee that were high
enough to exceed the 50 percent threshold and, thus, be considered worthy to be
recommended for placement on United States coins and medals. These results, coupled
with the observations of Director Moy, the CFA, and the CCAC, are alarming and serve
as a clear indication that swift action is needed to reform the artistic structure and
processes within the United States Mint.
On June 28, 2010, I exercised my statutory authority as Chair of the CCAC to form the
Subcommittee on Coin Design Excellence (Subcommittee). I tasked the subcommittee
with developing a comprehensive set of recommendations addressing design quality. My
formation of the Subcommittee was in response to several factors, including Director
Moy’s recognition that improvement in design quality is needed and his corresponding
call for artistic excellence, the observations of the CFA expressing concern for the poor
quality of designs, and the CCAC’s paralleling concerns for the lack of artistic quality
evident in United States Mint designs.

The Subcommittee obtained and reviewed documents and operational procedures,
interviewed sculptor-engravers, senior managers and senior executives at the United
States Mint who are directly involved in coin and medal design and approval processes.
The Subcommittee also interviewed other employees for input on legal and legislative
matters, art creation, marketing, sales, production, engraving, stakeholder outreach, and
administrative management functions. Interviews were conducted at both the United
States Mint at Philadelphia and United States Mint Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Eighteen interviews were completed.
Interviewees were allotted between 30 and 60 minutes with the Subcommittee during
normal business hours. The Subcommittee asked a series of questions concerning
working conditions, creativity, coin and medal design processes and interactions among
departments within the Mint. The Subcommittee also encouraged interviewees to discuss
issues that they felt were affecting their work and to offer suggestions for improvement.
The Subcommittee refrained from asking leading questions, proposing solutions or
endorsing any idea presented to it.
The findings and recommendations of the Subcommittee have been reported to the full
CCAC, the CFA, and Director Moy. Subsequently, the aforementioned parties
collaborated to develop and refine the recommendations included in the CCAC’s
The following summarizes the Blueprint’s recommendations:
That all responsibility for artistic design be removed from the United States Mint
Sales and Marketing Department and that the Design Working Group be
abolished. We recommend, instead, that the position of Art Director be created
and that a Timetable Task Force (TTF) be established to coordinate and
streamline the artistic and manufacturing schedules.
By default, the Sales and Marketing Department has assumed the dominant role in
guiding the designs of coins and medals. The Design Working Group (DWG) was
originally created to coordinate manufacturing timetables and to interface with
stakeholder groups. With one exception, none of the members of the DWG has any
training or background in art (the notable exception being Chief Engraver John Mercanti,
who plays a limited role in the DWG). Nevertheless, the DWG has assumed the role of
directing and coordinating the Artistic Infusion Program* (AIP) artists as well as the inhouse United States Mint Sculptor-Engravers.
An Art Director, with formal training in art history, fine arts, sculpture or related fields
and at least four (4) years prior experience as an art director should be hired to manage
and direct AIP and United States Mint artists; manage the artistic aspects of all
The Artistic Infusion Program comprises artists who are independent contractors, recruited and
selected by the United States Mint, to supplement the design development functions of United
States Mint Sculptor-Engravers.

stakeholders, including the CFA and the CCAC; and be responsible for ensuring that
proposed designs not only meet the highest standards of artistic excellence, but also
comply with the historical, legal and technical requirements of the coin or medal program
for which the proposed designs were produced. It is important that the Art Director
report directly to the United States Mint Director.
The DWG should be abolished. Instead, a Timetable Task Force (TTF) – chaired by the
Art Director, and comprising representatives from the Office of Chief Counsel, the Sales
and Marketing Department, and the Manufacturing Department – should perform the
scheduling function and advise the Art Director on historical, legal and technical matters.
In no event should the artistic merits of a proposed design be discussed or considered by
the TTF.
That the status of the United States Mint Sculptor-Engravers be elevated, that
their creativity be encouraged and utilized in design projects and that the current
call for Artistic Infusion Program request for proposals (RFP) be substantially
revised to elevate the creative qualities of originality and innovation—to the same
level of importance expressed in the current RFP for the basic competency
requirements of technical draftsmanship.
A product of the current default design process is a practice described by United States
Mint artists as “trace and bake”. “Trace and bake” is a process employed for certain coin
design projects in which artists are directed to use existing source materials—historical
photos and artwork—for portraiture and other subject matter and to simply reproduce
such materials in a near-copied form to produce designs for current use. The practice of
“trace and bake” must end. Instead, artists should be encouraged to pursue original
interpretive designs. They should use symbolism, allegory and abstraction rather than
rely primarily on realistic or literal depictions of design themes. Artists should always
consider the size of the palette and simplify designs whenever possible.
Coins and medals should be recognized as three-dimensional pieces of hand-held
sculpture, and artists should be encouraged to design both the obverse and reverse
whenever possible. Thinking of the two sides of a coin or medal as a complete vision
would encourage a full sculptural expression of a design rather than a two-dimensional
picture on a disc of metal. Including the use of the edge of a coin or medal as a third
surface, where such use would support the design quality of the obverse and reverse,
should also be encouraged.
Given the goal of creating brilliant works of art through United States coins and medals,
the treatment and status of the artists involved in the creative process must be accorded
focused and sustained attention. The artists who design our Nation’s coins and medals
should be highlighted in marketing materials. Resources should be allocated for artists to
sculpt from life and on site; to encourage them to perform independent research on
assigned tasks; to provide more suitable work space for them and to allow flexible hours
to encourage creativity.

Opportunities for professional training and art education at national and international
seminars and workshops should be provided. Additionally, the United States Mint should
sponsor attendance and participation for United States Mint artists at national and
international exhibits of coin and medal art.
Coin and medal programs should be implemented before the end of 2011 that will
provide immediate opportunities for artists to demonstrate and showcase the United
States Mint’s advancements in the area of artistic creativity and excellence. In 2009, the
United States Mint utilized modern technology to fulfill Augustus Saint-Gaudens' vision
of an ultra high relief coin that could not be realized in 1907 with his legendary Double
Eagle liberty design. As a companion piece to the 2009 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, the
United States Mint should produce an ultra high relief Double Eagle liberty design in
2011 utilizing a modern 21st century design of the traditional American Liberty theme.
Additionally, candidate designs for the medal honoring Edmund C. Moy as the 38th
Director of the United States Mint, which have been reviewed by the CCAC and the
CFA, serve as important benchmark examples of design excellence. These designs
utilize several modern design techniques and illustrate, in visual terms, the ideals of
artistic creativity and design excellence. Finally, the opportunity for artists to experiment
with creative and innovative designs—free from legislative and other limitations—should
be created through the implementation of an annual art medal program. The art medal
program would allow artists to utilize cutting edge advancements in design techniques
and minting technology.
The current RFP call to artists for the Artist Infusion Program should be substantially
revised. Greater emphasis should be placed on creative qualities such as originality and
innovation. This emphasis should be equal to the emphasis accorded to the basic
competency requirements of technical draftsmanship appearing in the current RFP. AIP
artists should be managed, coordinated and directed by the Art Director without the
involvement of the Sales and Marketing Department.
The Art Director should also be provided the flexibility to commission specific artists
who are outside of the AIP or the staff Sculptor-Engravers to produce designs for
particular projects if the subject matter would be best served by doing so. In this way, the
United States Mint would be able to reach out to and benefit from America’s finest
sculptors in the production of coins and medals on subjects compatible with the work and
style of specific sculptors-of-note. By the way of example only, if a coin or medal were
to be produced to commemorate America’s role in the Vietnam War, the artist who
produced the bronze sculpture at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. might
be commissioned to design such a coin or medal.
We recommend changes in the methodology for design review at the CFA and the
CCAC and we recommend that the United States Mint contract with an outside
historian for assistance with historical accuracy of designs.

The roles of the CFA and the CCAC should become more integral to the design and
review process with input from both groups being sought before and after designs are
created. Production timelines should be designed to recognize the role of these groups
and to assure that adequate time is allotted to support artistic design processes. The CFA
and the CCAC should review and contribute to the draft narratives before the Art
Director assigns corresponding projects to the artists. This would allow artistic
discussions and comments that might be informative for the artists in maximizing their
creativity and in producing designs with the content and quality sought by the CFA and
The CFA and the CCAC should have an opportunity to preview and comment on all
preliminary coin and medal designs. Preliminary review of designs could aid in the
efficiency of design review meetings and better utilize the talents and contributions of the
members of these two groups.
The Art Director should work to provide the CFA and CCAC a quantity and variety of
designs for each project that facilitates deliberative and evaluative comparisons in each
group’s recommending processes. Ordinarily, not fewer than four different candidate
designs of each proposed coin or medal—and, more routinely, several more than four
candidate designs—should be submitted to the CFA or the CFA. Differences in lettering
and changes in minor design elements should not be considered different designs.
Finally, an outside historian specializing in U.S. history should be contracted to support
the Art Director in review of all historical designs before they are submitted to the CFA
and the CCAC. Use of a contracted historian would be in addition to support currently
provided by the in-house United States Mint historian and would provide reinforcement
in the effort to assure historical accuracy in the designs on U.S. coins and medals.
The CCAC, with collaborative support from the CFA, respectfully submits the attached
findings and recommendations, A Blueprint for Advancing Artistic Creativity and
Excellence in United States Coins and Medals: Analysis and Recommendations. We
stand ready to work with all involved parties to implement the Blueprint’s

Gary B. Marks