United States Mint Creates High-Relief Gold Coin with Help of Two Advisory Groups

By Office of Corporate Communications
July 8, 2015

Line drawing of the obverse selected for the 2015 High Relief Gold Coin.
Line drawing of the obverse selected for the 2015 High Relief Gold Coin.

Most United States Mint products, such as Congressional Gold Medals, circulating and commemorative coins, are congressionally mandated. However, the 2015 American Liberty High-Relief Gold Coin was created under authority granted to the Secretary of the Treasury by federal law – 31 U.S.C. Section 5112 (i)(4)(C).

This collector’s item, to go on sale July 30, was conceptualized in mid-2014 by Sales and Marketing after discussions with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, an 11-member body established in 2003 by Congress to advise the Secretary of the Treasury on the themes and designs of all U.S. coins and medals. The CCAC serves as an informed, experienced and impartial resource to the Secretary and represents the interests of American citizens and collectors.

Another advisory panel – the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, established by Congress in 1910 – also reviewed designs and made recommendations.

The CFA is an independent federal agency charged with giving expert advice to the president, Congress and the federal and District of Columbia governments on matters of design and aesthetics regarding federal interests and the dignity of the nation’s capital. The commission’s seven members are presidentially appointed experts in art, architecture and urban design. The CFA reviews designs proposed for memorials, coins, medals, and new or renovated government buildings, as well as privately owned properties in certain areas of Washington.

Roger Vasquez, a program manager in the Mint Headquarters’ Office of Design Management, handled the process of soliciting, coordinating and forwarding designs to the Secretary of the Treasury. He said the entire initiative, from concept discussion to design recommendation, took about seven months and included design candidates from nine Artistic Infusion Program contributors and six Mint sculptor-engravers.

“The designs for the high-relief gold coin were strongly influenced by the CCAC. During the concept discussion meeting, the CCAC emphasized creating a ‘modern’ Liberty that reflects the nation’s diversity. The Mint sought approval from the Secretary of the Treasury to develop the high-relief gold coin, and then, in concert with the recommendations of the CCAC and the CFA, the Secretary chose the designs we ended up using,” he said.

“An important aspect of my work focuses on getting candidate designs through the various review processes – with our lead sculptor-engraver for aesthetics, our digital development team for technical ‘coinability,’ to make sure a design will coin well, and with our legal counsel,” Vasquez said.

He described how the external advisory groups carry out their responsibilities.

Both the CCAC and CFA evaluate each design for artistic merit, originality, and expression of desired ideals. CCAC panel members each assign a score to the design candidates. The highest-scoring designs are usually what CCAC recommends. The CFA typically passes a motion following their evaluations to recommend a design to the Secretary of the Treasury,” he said.

Like all Mint products, designing the 2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin required teamwork – while adding expert outside advice.

Read more about the 2015 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin.

Line drawing of the reverse selected for the 2015 High Relief Gold Coin.
Line drawing of the reverse selected for the 2015 High Relief Gold Coin.

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