The CCAC advises the Treasury on historic new coins, part 2: American Memorial Park quarter

Background image courtesy of AgnosticPreachersKid.

The following is the second of a six-part series currently running on our sister site, Coin Update


The American Memorial Park Quarter (Northern Mariana Islands)

My late-morning flight from Atlanta to the September 19, 2017, Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee meeting in Washington was quick and easy—no delays, no bad weather or turbulence. It’s an hour-and-a-half trip from The Big Peach to our nation’s capital. Convenient travel is one of the advantages of living in Atlanta, home to the busiest airport in the United States. I’m well aware that other CCAC members sometimes have to fly in at the crack of dawn, or take trains that might or might not be delayed.

At Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport I received in change two bright, freshly minted 2017 America the Beautiful quarters—one Ellis Island, and one Frederick Douglass. Their designs illustrate the amount of fine detail that can fit on the small canvas of a quarter dollar. There’s a difference between busyness in a composition and detail in its execution.

The second portfolio of designs we reviewed in our meeting was for American Memorial Park on Saipan, the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands.

This park honors the American and Marianas people who gave their lives during the Marianas Campaign of World War II. There are 5,204 names inscribed on a memorial that was dedicated during the 50th anniversary of the Invasion of Saipan.

Acting Superintendent Paul Scolari of American Memorial Park (right) joined us by phone for our CCAC meeting—even though it was 1:00 in the morning on Guam! (Photo by U.S. Navy First Assistant Engineer Mike Long.)

We were joined by Paul Scolari, acting superintendent of the park, who was calling in from Guam (where it was 1:00 in the morning). Mr. Scolari described American Memorial Park: It’s an urban setting of about 130 acres, a commemorative park and a memorial landscape that was established coincident with the creation of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. People use it as a living park, for recreation, Scolari said, and it’s an important part of the community in that sense. But its main focal point is the Memorial Court of Honor and Flag Circle, and its intent is to honor the war dead.

As I reviewed the design portfolio, I kept in mind the definition of a memorial: a monument or structure established to remind people of a person or event; especially to remember someone who has died; from the Latin word for memory. Although the physical beauty of American Memorial Park is an appealing attraction, I remember the words of Superintendent Jim Richardson in our March 2017 CCAC meeting: “World War II is the critical reason for the park’s being.”

To me, the hands-down winning design in this portfolio is MP-01. It shows a boy on the shoulder of a serviceman, saluting the Court of Honor and Flag Circle. The boy is specifically Chamorro—one of the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands. (The soldier could be Chamorro, or he could be continental American.) To me, it’s important to show the Chamorro culture and ethnicity—not only for the significance of local participation in the Marianas Campaign, but for the sake of young Asian Americans, so they can see themselves on a circulating U.S. coin. (There are about 20 million Asian Americans living in the United States and its territories.) The “brand promise” of the United States Mint is “Connecting America Through Coins,” and this design offers a unique opportunity to do just that without weakening its connection to the memorial park.

Another strong aspect of MP-01 is the boy’s salute. This physical act is a universal symbol of respect. A salute is immediately recognizable whether you’re a civilian or military. It transcends language. To me, this quietly but eloquently tells the story and the purpose of American Memorial Park.

I was pleased that Acting Superintendent Scolari agreed with my analysis of the coin design, and he indicated that MP-01 was also the preferred design of the National Park Service.

Other CCAC members spoke to the appeal of other designs. Acting Chairman Donald Scarinci found MP-06 and 06A to be “the most aesthetically pleasing.”

Former chair Mary Lannin referred to the delicacy of the flowers on MP-03, calling it a “beautiful design that should strike well.” She also was attracted to MP-06 and 06A, especially with the curvature of the wavy typography on 06. Ronald Harrigal, the Mint’s acting quality manager, who was present at the meeting, confirmed that the wavy effect is technically achievable, with the Mint’s artists able to craft the lettering to give the illusion of it being on a flag, even though they’re constrained by the small surface area of a quarter dollar.

Member Tom Uram (who was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the American Numismatic Association) called attention to the designs that feature the words THE COURT OF HONOR AND FLAG CIRCLE, including MP-07 and 08.

Member Heidi Wastweet, a sculptural artist based in California, called MP-01 “a lovely drawing” and noted its appeal, but she opined that it wouldn’t work well on a quarter-sized coin. The design would be too shallow, she said, and the layering would be a challenge for whomever is assigned its sculpt. MP-03 she felt would read well as a quarter dollar, with emotion conveyed in its combination of simplicity and detail. She found MP-06 and 06A to be too crowded, without enough negative space; and in MP-07 she found the perspective of the flags interesting (as did I and several other committee members). MP-08 she described as attractive, with symmetry, “though perhaps unimaginative.”

Member Erik Jansen, a scientist and businessman from Washington State and a lifelong coin collector, called the designs all utilitarian. He also gave a reminder to the artists who submit potential coin designs: “Grayscale is different from coin engraving.” He offered MP-06 as an example, noting that the toning in the drawing would not translate into sculpted metal.

Member Mike Moran, a natural-resources industrialist by trade and also an award-winning numismatic author, said he was “troubled” by MP-03, noting that it doesn’t capture the memorial park’s Court of Honor. I agree this is a detraction for the design, even though I find the artist’s work beautiful and I think it would make an attractive coin or medal. To me the flowers are too generic of a memorial symbol; they could represent any grieving commemoration, public or private, and don’t speak specifically to American Memorial Park. MP-06 and 06A, Moran said, wouldn’t coin well, and he said 07 and 08 are “okay”—not very creative, “but how many ways can you show a circle of flags?”

CCAC member Dr. Herman Viola (left) with Maj. General (ret.) Tony Taguba, director of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. Viola has written books on the American West and American Indians.

Member Dr. Herman Viola, a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, called this coin “a tough design,” but gave his support to MP-08.

Member Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, a Pennsylvania-based sculptor and president of the American Medallic Sculpture Association, commented on the difficulty of this portfolio. The flags in MP-07 and 08, scaled down to coin size, would be too small, she said. MP-06 was her preference; she praised its quality, but also wondered aloud if it would strike well.

CCAC member Robert Hoge (right) with retired U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Don Everhart. Hoge has appeared as a numismatic expert on the PBS Television programs “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and “The History Detectives.”

Member Robert Hoge, retired curator of North American Coins and Currency for the American Numismatic Society, and former curator of the American Numismatic Association, acknowledged the difficulty of the subject. MP-01, he said, is an attractive design but with details too small for a quarter dollar—a critique he also leveled at MP-07 and 08.

He brought attention to MP-04: “It does show the park, though in a very stylized manner.” His favorite among the designs was MP-03, and he noted the significance of the date, June 15th, 1944, observing that the coin’s year of issue, 2019, makes it a 75-year commemorative of the arrival of American troops on Saipan.

Ron Harrigal discussed some of the technical challenges of depicting long, straight lines, such as flag poles, on coins, especially in Proof format. He said the Mint’s artists and technicians would have to make multiple versions of the tooling to get it right. We also discussed with Ron and with April Stafford, director of the Mint’s Office of Design Management, the feasibility of changing the peripheral legend of NOR. MARIANA ISL. to N. MARIANA ISLANDS. They assured us that the possibilities had already been discussed with the National Park Service, and the wording and lettering had been experimented with, and the current legend was what worked.

Our Vote for American Memorial Park, and Our Recommendation to the Treasury

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee was established by Congress to advise the Secretary of the Treasury on theme and design proposals relating to circulating coinage, bullion coinage, Congressional Gold Medals, and national and other medals.

The CCAC doesn’t “decide what goes on coins.” We give our studied, reasoned advice to the Treasury secretary, and he makes the final decisions.

Part of our process in coming to a recommendation for any given coin is to take a vote after we discuss and analyze each design proposal. In our voting for the American Memorial Park coin, each design candidate could earn up to 30 points. (10 members were present, and each could assign 1, 2, or 3 points to each design.) This is how our voting went:

  • MP-01 earned 14 points and was our favored design.
  • MP-03 and MP-06/06A each earned 10 points.
  • MP-08 earned 8 points.
  • MP-07 earned 7 points.
  • MP-04 earned 6 points.
  • MP-05/05A earned 3 points.
  • MP-02 earned 0 points.

The CCAC’s recommended design: MP-01

With several committee members noting that MP-01 would benefit from slight modifications to fit a small coin diameter, we further advised the Mint’s artist to enlarge the figures, push the flags more to the background, and/or otherwise provide variations of the design for our review and approval. We will then make our final endorsement to the Secretary of the Treasury.

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Comments

  1. RSF says

    One of the two commemorative coin programs allowed for 2019 just passed Congress, and it doesn’t concern the anniversary of the moon landing.
    So another item just got added to the CCCAC’s review agenda. ( HR 2519)

    It is to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of The American Legion. A very appropriate cause.
    The Bill’s only guidance as to what the coins should look like is that they “shall be emblematic of The American Legion”. Certainly a lot of latitude for the artists.

    The standard gold, silver, and clad specs are proscribed in both proof and unc finishes.

  2. cagcrisp says

    Trump answered a few questions today.

    Said he would make a decision on Fed chairman in the next 2-3 weeks.

    Said he has met with 4 candidates.

    Bond yields rose and PMs declined.

    One possibility is the one Louis mentioned in his article…Kevin Warsh…

    …And he is seen as More of a Hawk that Yellen…

  3. Ben There says

    MP-04 Looks like the star arrangement on the Communist Chinese national flag. I do hope they realize that.

  4. Louis says

    OT but perhaps of interest to those who buy/collect world bullion coins is my short piece on the first bullion coins ever issued by the Czech Mint. Thanks to CW’s world coin editor, we were able to answer the question everyone seems to want answered: why a Niue coin for the Czech Republic?
    http://www.coinworld.com/voices/louis-golino.html

    There does seem to be a glut of gold walkers, as APMEX also had a fire sale today, but I got a better deal from Provident.

  5. Louis says

    Have any of you astute coin lovers heard of a fellow named Tim Rathjen? He owns a major coin store and has a machine that sorts coins using a computer by date, mintmark, color, and value. It’s quite incredible. He buys and sells massive quantities of common coins ever day and uses the machine to sort it all doing, as he says, the work of 20 people each day, and has a big staff and an operation that spans what looks like a very large building, sorting millions of coins. He recently found a 42/41-D Mercury dime this way.

  6. Mint News Blog says

    We did a couple of Coin Update stories on “The Machine” (Tim’s sorting machine). Fascinating stuff! I’ll track down the links in case anyone is curious.

  7. cagcrisp says

    How Bad are Sales of the 2017 Palladium?

    How about Lowering your price $30 in One Day in an Up Market just to Move Inventory?

    A specific well know bay seller has done just that.

    This seller moved a Total of 20 Palladium coins Before 09/25/17

    This seller moved a Total of 6 Palladium coins in 4 days Between 09/25/17 -09/28/17

    This seller Dropped prices ~ $30 Today and has since moved 15 Palladium coins.

    From the Highest presale ($1,117.82) to a Current price ($1,054.95) = $62.87

  8. Ikaika says

    @ Louis

    Czech Mint Lion bullion: Interesting article, thank you! Although I find their lion design nice, the premium seems to be high. For the price of the 10 oz Czech Lion silver bullion, one can purchase two 10 oz Beast Lion and still have money to buy two 1 oz Czech Lion. Paying such high premium for bullion (or any coin) is a big risk when it comes time to sell.

  9. cagcrisp says

    How much have things changed in 4 years?

    In 2013 the Mint commissioned a study as to the feasibility of a Palladium coin. The study concluded that initial sales of a Palladium bullion coin would be 100,000 annually and go down from there.

    The Mint actually sold a Total of 15,000 bullion 2017 Palladium coins.

    Question: What changed in 4 years to go from an estimated 100,000 to actual 15,000?

    Answer: A Lot. From a secondary market point of view.

    In 2013 the Flagship offering was a Reverse Proof Gold coin. You had a 1 month ordering window. Initial offering price was $1,640.00 and the following week went to $1,690.00 and the following week until the month window closed the price was $1,740.00.

    Launch week sales of the 2013 Reverse Proof Gold were 24,883 @ $1,640.00 = $40,808,120

    Final listed sales were 47,836 with my estimated Total sales $ of ~ $80,356,690

    The last OGP 2013 Reverse Proof Gold coin sold on the bay on Tuesday, September 26th for $1,449.99 with 1 bid.

    …SO…From an initial purchase price of $1,640.00-$1,740.00 to a sale price on the bay of $1,449.99.

    • You lost ~ $335-$435 not considering Lost Opportunity Costs on the 2013 Reverse Proof Gold coin.

    In 2014 the Flagship offering was a Kennedy Proof Gold coin. You had a 56 week ordering window. Initial offering price was $1,240.00 and fluctuated with many ups and downs and final selling price of $1,127.50.

    Launch week sales of the 2014 Kennedy Proof Gold were 62,341 @ $1,240.00 = $77,302,840

    Final listed sales were 73,772 with my estimated Total sales $ of ~ $91,170,410

    The last OGP 2014 Kennedy Proof Gold coin sold on the bay on Thursday, September 28th for $1,030.99 with 23 bids.

    …SO…From an initial purchase price of $1,240.00-$1,127.50 to a sale price on the bay of $1,030.99.

    • You lost ~ $200-$312 not considering Lost Opportunity Costs on the 2014 Kennedy Proof Gold coin.

    In 2015 the Flagship offering was a Liberty High Relief Gold coin. You had a 25 week ordering window. Initial offering price was $1,490.00 and fluctuated up to $1,590.00 before settling at $1,490.00.

    Launch week sales of the 2015 Liberty High Relief Gold were 41,930 @ $1,490.00 = $62,475,700

    Final listed sales were 49,325 with my estimated Total sales $ of ~ $73,614,150

    The last OPG 2015 Liberty High Relief Gold coin sold on the bay on Monday, September 25th for $1,690.00 as a BIN.

    • …SO…Considering a BIN price vs. recent auction prices and considering bay/pal fees and you are looking at a slightly negative, break even, slightly positive current outcome on the 2015 Liberty High Relief Gold coin.

    In 2016 the Mint had 3 Flagship offerings: The Winged Head Liberty Gold dime, The Standing Liberty Gold quarter and the Walking Liberty Gold half.

    The 2016 Winged Head Liberty Gold dime was initially offered at $205.00 and concluded when the Mint had a secondary offering on Thursday, December 15th 2016 @ $200.00.

    Launch week sales of the 2016 Winged Head Liberty Gold dime were 122,510 @ $205.00 = $25,114,550

    Final sales listed were 124,885 with my estimated Total sales $ of ~ 25,557,480

    The last OGP 2016 Winged Head Liberty Gold dime sold on the bay this morning for $245.49 with 3 bids.

    …SO…From an initial purchase price of $205.00-$200.00 to a sale price on the bay of $245.49.

    • You are Positive on the majority of all OPG 2016 Winged Head Liberty Gold dimes sold on the bay since Launch.

    The 2016 Standing Liberty Gold quarter was initially offered at $485.00 and currently sales have reached a total of 90,188 out of a maximum mintage of 100,000.

    Launch week sales of the 2016 Standing Liberty Gold quarter were 53,378 @ $485.00 = $25,888,330

    Current Mint offering price is $472.50 and the last sold on the bay was a BIN for $449.00.

    …SO…From an initial purchase price of $485.00-$472.50 to a sale price on the bay of $449.00.

    • You lost ~ $68-$80 not considering Lost Opportunity Costs for the 2016 Standing Liberty Gold quarter.

    The 2016 Walking Liberty Gold half was initially offered at $865.00 and current sales have reached a total of 64,299 out of a maximum mintage of 70,000.

    Launch week sales of the 2016 Walking Liberty Gold half were 46,956 @ $865.00 = $40,616,940

    Current Mint offering price is $890.00 and you can buy all you want currently from APMEX for $740.15.

    …SO…From and initial purchase price of $865.00-$890.00 to a current listing price of $740.15.

    • You lost ~ $199-$223 not considering Lost Opportunity Costs on the 2016 Walking Liberty Gold half.

  10. earthling says

    The biggest scam in recent memory was the 1 oz ASE Slabbed as a Philly Coin and priced like a 1 oz Gold Coin. Imagine the tears when trying to sell something like that.

  11. VA Bob says

    I’m just surprised in an effort to appeal to all, the Mint didn’t put someone taking a knee before the flag. These designs of late are really stretching the limits of the imagination. Lucky for Mint almost every town in the US has a flag pole for them to memorialize on a coin.

  12. Mattarch says

    Cagcrisp thanks for the Research and Analysis. I did not initially but the Kennedy Gold Proof Coin but seeing that prices are coming down am considering purchasing now if the price is correct and if in OGP. Would like it to complete a Kennedy set but not at the initial price.

  13. HarryB says

    @ Cag: thanks for your detailed market research and analysis of modern US Mint product performance in the secondary market. 2016 was my last year to purchase the “flagship” offerings from the US Mint, noticing the trend you document so well.

  14. KC&SO says

    Va Bob – good to hear from ya, hope all is well down there. Hey, no ships collided in the past 60 days, things are looking up! I’ve been working hard so your stock goes up come 1st Qtr 😃

    Cag – Awesome analysis! Though truth be told, I know I’m taking it in the shorts on this Pd.., though sometimes, you just have to buy something that makes ya ‘feel good’

    No different than our friend that pipes up here not to often about his socialist ways on a coin blog, it just must make him ‘feel good’

    I bought the Palladium Eagle knowing it was probably a financial disaster, though in hand, it’ll make me ‘feel good’ when I see it – just like the concept of solar power.

    Steve – glad to hear you are well! Was at the Stone back in July, I said the ‘dog don’t hunt’ during a meeting, boy that raised a chuckle. Anyhoo, know you were out of action for a while though that MCM deal was actually good, realitivey speak. Many were flip’n the ‘S’ for $240 to $260 over the summer…,

    Best Flip we’ll ever see..,

    From mint chaos comes opportunity!

  15. Gary says

    MP-01 is a great choice (with the recommended modifications). MP-04 is OVERLY STYLIZED… looks to be a roulette wheel or a stadium seating chart!!! LOL

  16. KCSO says

    Good Grief!

    I just received a Promo email from the mint for the 2016 Moultrie P Puck.., says don’t let your collection be incomplete with out it!

    Haha.., if they wouldn’t strike so darn many or lower the price a bit, then they wouldn’t be having to push them 9-10 months after the release

  17. says

    @KCSO…thanks…yeah I only live about 12 miles from Stone Mountain….so if you’re ever back this way…beer is on me.
    I two am a sucker for the palladium coin…got one of the last ms70 that apmex had.
    Now talk about a glutton for punishment on bad deals, I’m still considering buying a ms69 coin.
    Most sites like apmex and MCM only have about 70-80 each of ngc and pcgs…so they may not last too long…maybe a month?….who knows….but once people have these in hand, I could see them wanting to buy a second coin

  18. KCSO says

    Good Grief x 10!

    While I fully recognize that this is NOT a potlically forum, what was just ‘tweeted’ to Tillerson is UNBELIEVABLE, and utterly unacceptable.

    Having served on various joint staffs in the Asia theater, I’m gravely concerned that he’s going to get a lot people killed. This rhetoric is going to throw the markets in disarray, put a loose canon on a hair trigger, and open Pandora’s box. God help us!
    Standby Gold..,

    Gold coins, silver pandas, and circus coins,

  19. KCSO says

    Steve – good deal and very nice area!

    While the Pd sold 15,000 on day one, from my obersations, they’re still not a hot selling on the retailer sights. I may pick up another one, though I’m going to wait awhile, and see what Pd does and how motivated the retailer become to move inventory. We find better bargain ahead.., gold should be going down though who knows with the tweet factor

  20. says

    Gratitude to CAG regarding analysis.
    Greed part of my coin psyche – somewhat disheartened.
    At same time my past decision to be a collector and buy the coins I like – affirmed.
    Concurrently, review of my coin purchase records & data …pale in comparison to above CAG’s data.
    I speculate that such a ability to handle/retrieve/present information would be an advantage to do very well in the stock market.
    Semper Fi

  21. sharks2th says

    The Palladium eagle Mr. Mackey is selling on the hysterical shopping network looks really nice. His price of 2.2k is ridiculous. I’d originally planned to get one when it was first announced, but with the recent run-up in Pd prices I’ll pass for now.

    He claims to have bought about 7% of the 15k, so he got about 1k of the initial release.

  22. Tinto says

    @joe#2

    Yeah saw that just now .. and at that $2,000 price HSN Mike can’t even waive the shipping and handling …. gonna set back a sucker buyer another 5 bucks …

  23. Tinto says

    Slight correction on my part …. I meant $2,000 for the MS 69 … and 2.2K for the MS70 … both ANACS FDOI

  24. Gary Not Dave says

    Now there is another Negative Feedback. I am just curious if this account is hacked, how does he remove the NEgative Feedback? Crazy!

  25. earthling says

    Well shucks, isn’t this the age of cryptocurrency? Something can be created out of nothing. One day something can be worth a Nickel and tomorrow it’s worth $2,000. Why? Who knows, you want it you pay the money. That’s the way of cryptovalues.

    Just another rip-off in this rip-off world we live in.

  26. Louis says

    A question for those who are into clad, specifically ATB quarters, esp. the S-mint ones. I see they still bring a small premium in most cases and little more in others on the Bay. Have any of you had much luck recently selling these? I have some and am trying to decide what to do with them. Also, if you decide to cash them in at a bank, unopened USM rolls should be fine, but what about sealed 100-coin bags? Will they give you $25 or require that you put them in a coin counting machine?

    regarding the palladium eagle, my personal suggestion is to wait as this highly volatile metal is likely to be cheaper down the road. it is hard to find an expert who thinks palladium will be at current levels in 6 months, a year, etc.

  27. Louis says

    I see the 100-coin bags, esp. Denali S-mint, bring twice face, so those are definitely worth selling online.

  28. old sailor bill says

    What is the Status of the Native American Coin & Currency Set for 2017 ?
    Or is another Mint Project gone away without saying thing ?

  29. smalltimecollector says

    With the run up in Pd occurring I can only assume I will get a cull of cherry pickers in my order.
    It’s o.k. though, nothing will change the fact that it’s a nice looking coin of a material never minted in the U.S.

  30. says

    Louis so, I agree with you regarding possible future prices of palladium…However, sells have been strong…you can’t find as ms 70, and company’s like MCM and apmex are running low on their ms 69’s. Yes this coin is definitely a gample…but sometimes you just gotta roll the dice. I don’t know if I made a good decision….but full disclosure….I bought a NGC ms 70 for 1278..?and last night bought a NGC ms69 $1104. Oh well, I may of let my decision making process gone bad.

  31. Tinto says

    @old sailor bill

    Yeah, one would have thought it would be easier for the Mint to produce the NA C&C set this year since they were making the coin in mass quantities for the EU set ..still .hope they will have one this year, but then this is the Mint .. they get paid in full, regardless

  32. Buzz Killington says

    @ cag —

    I noticed something similar for the US Commem program running up to the mid-90s. Granted, then it was from seeing Coin World ads, but it was obvious that all of the commems were aftermarket losers.

    I stopped buying, and others did, too. This produced some rare aftermarket winners, notably the Robinson gold, and the very low mintage Leif Ericson dollar. Those premiums have relaxed a bit. Still, they were aftermarket winners.

    Will a similar trend follow suit now? Honestly, as much as I wish it would, I don’t see in the cards.

  33. Louis says

    @Steve- I hear you. It’s a nice looking coin for sure, and with today’s drop and a great deal on eBay I could get one (after including cc cash rebate) very close to 1K even. It’s quite possible that even if palladium dropped $100, dealers would hold prices so they don’t lose money, or the coin could be largely sold by then and be worth a larger premium anyway, erasing the metal loss, so I am giving it serious thought.

  34. Tom says

    Well, it looks like Platinum is working very hard at regaining it spot and putting Palladium back where it belongs.

  35. John Q. Coinage says

    IN non coin news, we lost a great muscian today Tom Petty had a fatal heart attack…..as WE get older we lose more, coins RE JUST SLABS OF METAL, LOVE LIFE & FAMILy AS IT CAN GO LIKE…. that

  36. cagcrisp says

    @Buzz Killington
    “Will a similar trend follow suit now? Honestly, as much as I wish it would, I don’t see in the cards.”

    I agree. Things will have to change …

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