Important News! CoinLink has merged..... Visit our NEW Site

BREAKING NEWS:....... Vist Our NEW Site at

All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Design"

United States Mint Names 7 New Associate Designers From Artistic Infusion Program

The United States Mint today announced that seven new artists have been selected to participate in the Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) as Associate Designers. The AIP began in 2003 to help enrich and invigorate the design of U.S. coins and medals.

A call for artists was issued August 28, 2009, seeking up to 10 associate designers to supplement the current pool of artists under contract in the AIP. Applications were accepted on a rolling basis with three deadlines. The United States Mint received more than 150 applications from professional visual artists nationwide.

After the first two deadlines of November 9, 2009, and March 8, 2010, an official panel convened at United States Mint headquarters to review the qualifying applications. The panel was composed of representatives from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and National Gallery of Art, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

After its review and evaluation, the panel recommended four artists after the November 9 deadline and three after the March 8 deadline. The new associate designers are:

* Paul Cainto Balan of Round Lake Heights, Illinois
* Chris Costello of Arlington, Massachusetts
* Barbara Fox of Little Valley, New York
* Thomas Hipschen of Arlington, Virginia
* Frank Morris of Memphis, Tennessee
* David Westwood of Lakewood, California
* Gary Whitley of Kelso, Washington

The final deadline for the 2009-2010 call for artists was July 6. There are three remaining AIP associate designer positions to be filled by the panel.

In the past, AIP artists have submitted successful designs for the 50 State Quarters® Program, American Eagle Platinum Coin Program, Presidential $1 Coin Program, First Spouse Gold Coin and Medal Program, America the Beautiful QuartersTM Program and others.

The AIP was specifically designed to develop and train a pool of talented external artists ready to work with the United States Mint’s in-house staff of sculptor-engravers to create new coin and medal designs. United States Mint Sculptor-Engravers model the designs submitted by the AIP artists. (more…)

Great Coin Design, by Committee

The CCAC is on a mission to improve the designs of U.S. coins. As the first bold step to accomplish this goal, they established a subcommittee. Seriously.

Along with the new Subcommittee on Coin Design Excellence, the effort also produced a ‘visual definition of design excellence’, which includes an image reference guide of 25 U.S. coin designs and 39 world coin and medal designs, and a helpful list of 17 characteristics of design excellence. The latter bears repeating in entirety (as quoted in Coin World):

* use of texture and pattern
* meaningful negative space
* thoughtful relationship of negative to positive space
* stylization
* ethnical influences
* allegory and symbolism
* detail yes, crowding no
* use of perspective
* used of forced perspective
* minimal layers
* harmonious, restrained type styles
* clarity
* interwoven images, not busy collages
* contrast of texture and smooth
* fluidity
* subtlety
* relevance of obverse to reverse

Ok, pop quiz. In 25 words or less, describe precisely what any three of these list items mean, as applied to coin design, and discuss whether that item is or is not currently identifiable on any U.S. coin. Points will be deducted for the use of jargon. Bonus: show which items in the list are more or less the same as other items in the list.

The 17 characteristics are intended to be “a benchmark to inspire those who design U.S. coins to be more innovative and creative.” Though “not trying to blame anyone or point fingers”, and noting that “we believe we have some wonderful artists and don’t doubt their talent at all”, it is the work of these same artists with which the CCAC seems to find fault. Were I a current Mint coin designer I would be skeptical of the CCAC’s non-finger-pointing assurance.

This endeavor seems to be an attempt to quantify the answer to the basic question of “What is good design?”. The implication is that good design will happen if all 17 guidelines are met. Oh, and by being inspired by the 39-item reference guide set. Certainly there are principles to which good design adheres, but can excellent creative results be summoned by following a list? It seems obvious to note that design appreciation is subject to the experience and interests of the viewer. Great art for thee is not necessarily great art for me.

The Subcommittee on Coin Design Excellence is a classic bureaucratic response to a perceived problem: create committees, study the issue for awhile, create guidelines, apply guidelines, have a bunch of meetings, and then congratulate yourself for solving the problem. Or, possibly, bemoan the fact that people aren’t listening to you. The reality of such efforts is that the process often becomes more important than results.

It is ironic that contemporary U.S. coins appear in the reference guide set (think about that- good enough to be in a reference set but not creative or innovative?); and that CCAC Chairman Gary Marks likes the 2010 Union Shield cent reverse, while member Donald Scarinci says the design makes him ‘want to vomit’. So, which is it? Do we currently have excellent designs or don’t we? Marks also admitted that, regarding coin design, “It’s art, so it’s subjective to some degree”.

This begs the question: if two prominent members of the CCAC don’t agree on what represents good design, how will a subcommittee, the CCAC, and the CFA all reach agreement on what is good design? And, even if all members agree on what they think to be some really excellent coin designs, what if the public (and artists not part of the CCAC or CFA) don’t like them at all? What if everyone agrees on only 10% of new coins designs? Is that enough to call it a 21st century coin renaissance?

What I see in this are words and phrases of indeterminate definition, a possible clash of egos, and an attempt to put into a box an extremely subjective endeavor. I am reminded of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, wherein “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” The CCAC would have each and every U.S. coin design be ‘above average’.

The desire is of course understandable. It is natural to want all things to be perfect, to have all efforts to achieve success. But it is also necessary to realize that great efforts, lists, committees, and intent do not necessarily produce great results. Sometimes, I’m afraid, just the opposite. I suspect that in spite of the CCAC’s zeal, ‘great’ coin designs will continue to be rare, and subjective. Perhaps that is as it should be.

Coin Profile : Royal Canadian Mint 5-Oz Gold Coin – 75th Anniversary of the First Bank Notes (2010)

A reproduction of the allegory that appeared on the original 1935 $500 bank note

[ CoinLink News ] At a time when so many new coin releases exhibit such uninspired design, we can across this incredible beauty being offered by the Canadian Mint in a Limited Mintage of 200 pieces.

Perhaps we have just “classical” taste for the rich allegorical figures of yesteryear which seems to impart an importance to the design, or it may be that the “clip art” mentality exhibited on most modern coins just leaves us cold. In any case, this 5 oz gold just struck a cord, and provides us with a reminder of what exceptional coinage could, and should look like.

The design is a reproduction of the allegory that appeared on the original 1935 $500 bank note; a seated woman holding a sickle surrounded by the fruits of harvest to symbolize fertility.

This is the fourth time that the Mint has produced a 5oz gold coin. Previous issues: 2007 – Queen’s 60th Wedding Anniversary, 2008 – 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mint and 2009 – 150th Ann. of beginning of Construction of Parliament Buildings.

The Bank of Canada began operating 75 years ago in 1935 and was given responsibility to regulate the country’s money supply and to “promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada.” Accordingly, it was given the exclusive right to issue Canada’s bank notes. On March 11, 1935, the Bank of Canada issued its first series of bank notes.

The inaugural series of 1935 included denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000. (A $25 note was issued later in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V).

The front of the notes featured a portrait of a member of the royal family or of a former Canadian prime minister while allegorical figures representing Canada’s growing agricultural, industrial and commercial prosperity appeared on the back. Each denomination was available in English or French, a practice that ended with the introduction of bilingual notes in 1937.


Westminster Mint Launches “Tea Party” Coin Design Contest

On December 16, 1773, colonists protesting against British government taxation boarded a ship and threw large quantities of tea into Boston Harbor. The “Boston Tea Party,” as it came to be known, was a pivotal event in the growth of the American Revolution.

More than 200 years later, a series of citizen gatherings called “Tea Parties” were organized in early 2009 to protest government spending, banking and automobile industry bailouts, and the economic stimulus package. Thousands of these events have been held across the country over the past year, including more than 750 on April 15, 2009. The inaugural National Tea Party Convention was held in Nashville, Tennessee, on Feb. 8, 2010, and many more “Tea Party” protests are planned for this year, especially following passage of the controversial healthcare reform bill.

Responding to the massive interest in this subject, Westminster Mint, Inc., of Minneapolis, one of the U.S.’s largest silver bullion dealers, today announced the launch of a national contest for the design of its new one-ounce .999 pure silver “Tea Party” Coin, to be unveiled in July 2010.

The deadline for submitting a design for this 39-millimeter coin is July 4, 2010. The winning design will incorporate a variety of themes pertaining to Tea Parties, such as fiscal conservatism, protests, bailouts, taxes, healthcare and the national debt.

The contest is open to anyone living in the United States, and designs must be submitted on an Official Entry Form obtained either by email or mail (Westminster Mint, 3300 Fernbrook Lane, Suite 160, Plymouth, MN 55447). The grand prize for the winning design of the inaugural Tea Party Coin Contest will be $1,000 worth of .999 silver coins stamped with the winning design. The winner will also receive the first coin off the press, as well as the hand sculpts created by sculptor Phyliss Hamilton. (more…)