The United States Mint has recently unveiled the design selections for the 2014 First Spouse Gold Coins. These coins will honor Florence Harding, Grace Coolidge, Lou Hoover, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the spouses of the 29th to 32nd Presidents of the United States.
The First Spouse Gold Coin Program was launched in 2007 with heavy demand for the initial three releases which saw sell outs of the 40,000 maximum mintage. Interest in the program waned in subsequent years, pushing mintage levels to historic lows. This culminated with the final audited mintage of just 2,168 pieces for the uncirculated 2011 Lucretia Garfield coin. In recent years the series has also been marked by delays due to production problems and other factors, which has compressed the release of all annual issues into an increasingly narrow time frame. The five proof and uncirculated 2013-dated issues were released in rapid succession between November 14 and December 16, 2013.
At this time, the US Mint has not provided release dates for the 2014 First Spouse Gold Coins. However, the schedule may see some better spacing. The design selections have been revealed about three months earlier compared to the prior year.
The 2014 Florence Harding First Spouse Gold Coin features a profile portrait on the obverse designed by Thomas Cleveland and engraved by Joseph Menna. The reverse, which was designed by Cleveland and engraved by Don Everhart, features an amalgam of symbols representing the contributions of the First Lady. The initials WWV stand for World War Veterans and form a torch which transforms into a pen at the base to represents Mrs. Harding’s extensive correspondence with veterans, their spouses, and widows. A camera represents her orchestration of photo opportunities supporting her husband’s campaign. A ballot box represents her distinction as the first First Lady to have cast a vote for a presidential candidate, her husband.
In the review phase, the CFA and CCAC had each offered a different set of recommendations for the obverse and reverse. The final obverse selection matches the recommendation of the CFA, while the final reverse selection matches the recommendation of the CCAC.
The Grace Coolidge First Spouse Gold Coin contains a portrait designed by Joel Iskowitz and engraved by Phebe Hemphill. The reverse, which was designed by Frank Morris and engraved by Jim Licaretz, carries a depiction of three hands using sign language to spell USA against the backdrop of the White House. Mrs. Coolidge had advocated for the deaf and hearing impaired.
The final obverse design matched the recommendation of the CCAC. The CFA had recommended an alternative profile portrait. The reverse design was recommended by both the CFA and CCAC, although following the recommendation of the CCAC, the letters “USA” were moved from the wrists of the hands to a different location within the design.
The 2014 Lou Hoover First Spouse Gold Coin features a near profile portrait designed by Susan Gamble and engraved by Michael Guadioso. The reverse features a late 1920’s style radio set with the words “First Public Address April 19, 1929”. Mrs. Hoover was the first First Lady to give a public radio address. The reverse was designed by Richard Masters and engraved by Jim Licaretz.
The final obverse design matches the recommendation of the CCAC. The reverse design had been recommended by both the CFA and CCAC.
The Eleanor Roosevelt First Spouse Gold Coin features an obverse portrait designed by Chris Costello and engraved by Phebe Hemphill. The revere features an image of Mrs. Roosevelt’s right hand lighting a candle against the background of the Earth’s curved horizon, symbolizing the First Lady’s life’s work and the global impact of her humanitarian initiatives. Adlai Stevenson remarked after her death: “She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world.”
Both the CFA and CCAC had recommended the selected obverse design. The CCAC had recommended the chosen reverse design, while the CFA had recommended an alternative design showing Mrs. Roosevelt as a delegate to the United Nations.