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Committees Review 2025 Liberty Designs

Published May 7, 2024 | 2 min read

By Louis Golino

In April the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) reviewed designs for the 2025 American Liberty gold coin and silver medal program.

The program debuted in 2015 and features modern interpretations of the American ideal of Liberty. In recent years, designs have included such nonhuman forms of Liberty as a horse (2021) and a tree (2023).

The designs were part of a portfolio of unusual motifs solicited by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Joseph F. Menna from artists who create street art, graffiti, tattoo art, and related approaches.

The two groups agreed that the gold coin’s obverse should show a close-up of a sunflower with a small bee on it. This design symbolizes the stewardship necessary to maintain democracy, a highly relevant topic as our country grapples with strains to our democratic system.

They also recommended different eagle reverses for that piece. The CCAC opted for a stylized modern design. The CFA chose a more traditional-looking eagle in flight with its wings spread.

Graffiti Liberty

Breaking with tradition, the CCAC recommended a silver medal design reimagining the Statue of Liberty in graffiti form. The CCAC’s members also recommended that the same non-U.S. Mint artists who created that design also create a complementary reverse if time permits.

According to the U.S. Mint, “The base of Liberty’s torch [in the silver medal design] is in the shape of a crown that rests on the L in LIBERTY. The crown is at once a tribute to the graffiti art form (the crown is in reference to graffiti artists as “kings” of the art form) and an allusion to how Americans converted their rule under a monarchy into their vision of a new nation.”

The initial reaction to the graffiti Liberty design was not positive. Many contributors to numismatic forums dismiss the designs as cartoonish, appearing like they were created by artificial intelligence, lacking in artistic merit, and, perhaps most importantly, lacking the dignity they believe U.S. coinage should have.

However, some favored the portfolio. One comment on the Professional Coin Grading Service message board stated, “I’m probably in the minority here, but I’m glad there are some ‘out there’ designs on the list. Successful art will trigger an emotion for the viewer or make someone look at a subject differently. Not all of our coinage needs to be designed as a pseudo-roman-ivory-tower. I appreciate that the CCAC was willing to give an opportunity to designs that take a risk.”

Former CCAC Members Weigh in

Former CCAC chairman, artist, and two-term member Gary Marks, was also critical of the portfolio. “The 2025 American Liberty designs show, with some notable exceptions, an abject disregard for the traditions and historical iconology of American coinage. They are beneath the dignity of our great nation. As someone who was a leading advocate for fresh new designs during my time as CCAC Chair, I am all for encouraging new ideas.  That said, it should be obvious that the pursuit of creativity needs to result in designs that rise far above comic book illustrations, scratch pad doodles, and the creation of bizarre and misplaced symbols summarily assigned to represent long held American ideals. The need to ‘go back to the drawing board’ is painfully obvious.”

On the other hand, another former CCAC chairman, ANA President Thomas J. Uram, said in an interview that he had heard from collectors who like the sunflower design. He, too, was pleased with the gold-coin recommendations. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen will make the final design selection.