In 2014, the United States Mint will issue commemorative coins to recognize and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The subject of commemoration and other certain aspects of the coin designs have the potential to bring mainstream interest to the program.
The authorizing legislation provides for the minting and issuance of up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, up to 400,000 silver dollars, and up to 750,000 clad half dollars. It is the sense of the Congress that to the extent possible the $5 gold coins and silver dollars should be minted so that the reverse of the coin is convex to more closely resemble a baseball, while the obverse design would be concave to provide a dramatic display of the design.
Further requirements are for a common reverse design to be used for all three coins which shall depict a baseball similar to those used by Major League Baseball. The obverse design is to be selected by public competition and should be emblematic of the game of baseball.
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recently reviewed six different design candidates prepared by the United States Mint for the reverse of the coin. Full coverage of the review and comments can be found here. The six original design candidates are shown below. (Note that six design candidate images were presented for each denomination, but the only difference was the inscription of the denomination. For simplicity, only the candidates for the $5 gold coin are shown.)
Within discussions, design 2 was favored since the inscription “United States of America” appeared on the sweet spot of the baseball and the orientation of the stitching was viewed as accentuating the shape of the ball. While acknowledging the positive aspects of the design, the Chairman and other members of the committee brought forth some issues. By stacking the words “United States of America” made the lettering smaller and left the denomination as the largest inscription.
After hearing these comments, members of the United States Mint staff who were present at the meeting sketched an alternate design identified as 2(a) which gained the support and recommendation of the CCAC. It appears that at a later point, design 2(b) was also prepared. These additional designs were provided to the Commission of Fine Arts for their subsequent review and comment. The two additional designs are shown below.
Just yesterday, the United States Mint announced details and rules of the public competition to select the obverse design. The competition will officially launch of April 11, 2013 and will be open to US citizens and permanent residents aged 14 and older. A separate Kid’s design challenge is open to those 13 and younger. The selected winning design will be used as the obverse for the $5 gold coin, silver dollar, and half dollar. The designer will receive $5,000 and have his or her initials will appear on the coin.
By putting together the baseball theme, the first ever curved coin produced by the United States Mint, and a public design competition, the program should bring some significant interest to the program. Hopefully the enthusiasm will carry over to other modern commemorative coin programs and coin collecting in general.