Lady Liberty Looks Better Than Ever

Posted in anniversaries by Editor on January 16, 2017

This is my first time to publish a press release (12 January 2017) from the United State Mint, and I’m afraid it reads like a government press release. But oh, the news! I especially like the headline from The New York Times, “The Coin? Gold. Its ‘Real Value’? Lady Liberty Is Black.”

Those familiar words of Dr. Martin Luther King now probe another layer of meaning, at the intersection not only of economics and justice, but also currency and representation: “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” CH

Designed by Justin Kunz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin.

Designed by Justin Kunz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, and United States Mint (Mint) Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson today unveiled designs for the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin in the historic Department of the Treasury’s Cash Room. The ceremony, led by Mint Chief of Staff Elisa Basnight, kicked off a year-long series of events in celebration of the Mint’s 225th anniversary in 2017.

“We are very proud of the fact that the United States Mint is rooted in the Constitution,” said Principal Deputy Director Jeppson. “Our founding fathers realized the critical need for our fledgling nation to have a respected monetary system, and over the last 225 years, the Mint has never failed in its mission.”

The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin design is unique in that it portrays Liberty as an African-American woman, a departure from previous classic designs. The obverse (heads) design depicts a profile of Liberty wearing a crown of stars, with the inscriptions: ‘LIBERTY’, ‘1792’, ‘2017’, and ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’. The reverse (tails) design depicts a bold and powerful eagle in flight, with eyes toward opportunity and a determination to attain it.  Inscriptions include ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’, ‘E PLURIBUS UNUM’, ‘1OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD’, and ‘100 DOLLARS’. The obverse was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Justin Kunz and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, while the reverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso.

The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin will be struck in .9999 fine 24-karat gold at the West Point Mint in high relief, with a proof finish. The one-ounce coin will be encapsulated and placed in a custom designed, black wood presentation case. A 225th anniversary booklet with certificate of authenticity will accompany each coin.

The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin is the first in a series of 24-karat gold coins that will feature designs which depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms-including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others-to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States. These 24-karat gold coins will be issued biennially. A corresponding series of medals struck in .999 silver, with the same designs featured on the gold coins, will also be available. The Mint will announce additional information about the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin prior to its release on April 6.

New Book | Britannia: Icon on the Coin

Posted in books by Editor on January 16, 2017

From The Royal Mint (at Llantrisant, just outside of Cardiff), which incidentally just this past year opened to the public with a new visitor’s center.

Katharine Eustace, Britannia: Icon on the Coin (Llantrisant: The Royal Mint Museum, 2016), 144 pages, ISBN: 978 18699 17029,  £35.

hisbrtbk_01_whiteAt a time when the idea of Britain is being debated more than ever, a book that reveals the rich history of British identity has been published. The story of Britannia on the coinage is also the story of Britain. Katharine Eustace charts Britannia’s history and explores the shifts in art and politics, technology and popular culture that have influenced the icon’s image. For two years, Eustace immersed herself in the subject of Britannia, and the result is a fascinating story revealed in this compelling new book. Her new history of Britannia on the coinage is an enlightening illustration of how studying one object can reveal a bigger picture. Britannia’s appearance on coins may have evolved over the centuries, but she has remained a popular symbol of the nation.

Katharine Eustace is an expert in eighteenth-century sculpture, with an extraordinary knowledge of decorative art and sculpture in Britain. She was a curator in the Ashmolean Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, and editor of the Sculpture Journal for ten years.

Christopher Eimer provides a helpful review at 3rd Dimension, the online newsletter of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association.

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