United States Mint Unused Coin Designs, Part 2

This post will conclude our look at some unused coin designs from various commemorative or rotating design coins issued by the United States Mint. The purpose of these posts is to provide a second look at some of the more distinctive or interesting unused coin designs of the past few years.

The previous article examining nine different unused designs can be found here.


To start, here is an alternate design for the 2014 Native American Dollar, which carried the theme of Native American hospitality ensuring the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This design depicts the friendship and mutual respect that developed between Lewis and Madan Chief Posecopsahe (Black Cat) within a nicely balance composition. The actual design for the coin depicted a Native American man offering a pipe with his wife offering provisions.


Here is an alternative design for the 2014 Proof Platinum Eagle, which carried the theme “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity”. The design features an allegorical depiction of America as a young nation standing on high ground holding an olive sprig and the Constitution surrounded by thirteen stars. The actual coin design featured a depiction of Liberty as a young child, holding a torch with the sun rising in the background.


This alternative obverse design for the 2014 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Silver Dollar had been highly praised by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, yet ultimately it was not selected. The design depicts the March on Washington facing east inside a silhouette of the Liberty Bell with vibrating bands. Rays beyond the view of the Washington Monument were intended to represent the dawn of the “bright day of justice,” as quoted in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The selected obverse design for the silver dollar instead featured three people holding hands during a civil rights march with one holding a sign “We Shall Overcome”.


Shown above is one of the design candidates for the reverse of the 2014 Grace Coolidge First Spouse Gold Coin. It portrays a touching moment where Mrs. Coolidge is meeting with a young visually impaired girl. This was inspired by Mrs. Coolidge’s work with Helen Keller. The selected design instead showed three hands finger spelling the letters USA against a backdrop of the White House.


The design above was presented as one of the candidates for the reverse of the 2015 March of Dimes Silver Dollar. The same basic design with different inscriptions was also included amongst the candidates for the obverse design. The actual selected reverse design depicted a baby sleeping in the hand of a parent.


The reverse of the 2015 US Marshals Clad Half Dollar had one of the most specific and expansive set of legal design requirements I have ever seen. Here is the design requirement from Public Law 112-104:

The reverse of the half dollar clad coins issued under this Act shall bear an image consistent with the role that the United States Marshals played in a changing nation, as they were involved in some of the most pivotal social issues in American history. The image should show the ties that the Marshals have to the United States Constitution, with themes including—

(I) the Whiskey Rebellion and the rule of law;
(II) slavery and the legacy of inequality; and
(III) the struggle between labor and capital.

The actual selected design included a conglomeration of varied items to represent this multitude of themes. Shown above is a design candidate which tries to bring across the main themes with far fewer elements.


Here is an alternate reverse design for the recently issued 2015 Bess Truman First Spouse Gold Coin. The design features the imposing image of a 1940’s style locomotive engine with a stylized flag and date banner. The actual selected design depicted a close up of a train wheel.


The reverse of the 2015 Native American Dollar honors the Mohawk Ironworkers who worked from 1886 onwards building prominent landmarks in New York City and other skylines. This alternate design depicts a Mohawk iron worker on a beam. The actual selected design shows a worker reaching for a beam against a curved skyline.


Lastly, here is an alternate reverse design from the 2015 Kisatchie National Forest Quarter from the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. While I did like the actual selected design featuring a turkey in flight, this alternate design depicting a red cockaded woodpecker in flight is framed from an interesting viewpoint as if looking aloft from the forest floor.

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  1. gary says

    From the standpoint of craftsmanship and design, all of the above designs have great appeal. I think the U.S. Mint artist designer-sculptors are doing an excellent job in providing a variety of design approaches. Most notably, the artists seem to experiment with dramatic perspectives and novel viewpoints. Great Work!

  2. MacHeathOhio says

    Tend to agree with Gary; the mint designers do a pretty good job generally. There are occasional misfires, but they are far out numbered by the good to great designs. Which is best? As always, depends on your personal tastes. The Grace Coolidge design is very touching (no pun intended), it would have made a quiet,but lovely coin. Others pop, like the Kisatchie design, although the turkey design that got the nod was even “poppier”.

    If I had any suggestion for the Mint and its designers, it would be for them to be more experimental, to take a few more risks. Coin collectors can be a bit surley in their conservatism, but the coins they love the most were often the ones that were the most startling when they were introduced (Think 1907, 1916). Let’s keep trying to push the boundaries.

  3. Gary Not Dave says

    Do we have any history of unused designs from back in the day? I am curious what was some of the alternative designs for the Walking Liberty or the Mercury dime that were turned down. How about a Part 3, Michael?

  4. fmtransmitter says

    There is a book that just came out, one of TV dealers was giving it away with a coin purchase. I THINK is St. Gaudens. It was a copy of his sketch book…

  5. says

    As of today the US Mint website is now showing the 2014 $1 & Spouse medal sets as Sold Out. That is Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and FDR. The 2013 sets are still “Currently Unavailable” and 2015 Truman and Eisenhower are still on Back Order.

  6. fmtransmitter says

    @GAry: I have been looking around sir and it seems there has not been such a book published. As this site is owned by a publishing company, I can see a writer getting right on that as I see it as a best seller for sure. Good coffee table reading with large illustrations. You will need access to the US Mint archives and then the hunt would have to begin on finding the sketchbooks of the artists and some cash going to Mr. Mercanti who could, I am sure, save you much time and money, hunting down the sources you would need…

  7. gary says

    You can see some pictures in Cornelius Vermuele’s “Numismatic Art In America”. I believe this book is out of print but maybe a copy can be had at Amazon.

  8. sharks2th says

    I received a new product survey from the Mint today. I’ll post the ideas once I have time to complete the survey unless someone else gets to it before I do.

  9. Louis says

    @DR- Funny you should mention that. As a result of coverage in the NY Times, Financial Times, etc. there is a massive run on this coin and the Mint ran out of them today and is scrambling to make more. It has been out for a month, but for some reason the mainstream media only chose to cover it now.

  10. Louis says

    On eBay unsuspecting buyers who don’t understand that more coins will be made are paying 60 euros and more for a $10 coin! But that is better than paying $1K for an HR Kookaburra PF70 that is worth $100, as you guys were discussing recently. Those are just sucker prices to see what they can get. Doesn’t mean a darn thing.

  11. Jerry Diekmann says

    It’s a crying shame that the Liberty bell reverse wasn’t used on the Civil Rights coin instead of the protest marchers. I wonder what dioofus made the decision to pick that atrocious design over an absolutely beautifully designed masterpiece? The failure and unpopularity of the CR coin is due entirely to its insipid and stupid design. The coin was supposed to have commemorated the Civil Rights Act, NOT civil rights protests. We should be wanting to honor achievements, not disturbances., The person who picked the design to be minted sure had his head up his ass. Maybe the unused design can be resurrected for a future coin – I sure hope so.

  12. thePhelps says

    Jerry…it has been well documented here that they chose the protest coin and sold very few coins based on that choice. I usually purchase a proof and an uncirculated commemorative and between the GS coin and the CRA coin I now have 2 uncirculated coins. Neither warranted more than that.

    I think your point is exactly what many here said – they choose to celebrate the protests – and ignored what was called for in the law – which was a celebration of the end of the protests with a law authorizing equal rights. It was almost universally accepted here – that the Liberty Bell design was a much better design – and coins sells would have been substantially better with that choice. Instead they had their collective heads inserted rectally and failed miserably.

  13. MacHeathOhio says

    Jerry, sorry, but disagree with you. First, there are several groups of professionals and citizens, but you might want to review the records at http://www.ccac.gov/calendar/notices.cfm and check out what the alternative designs and thoughts were regarding the Civil Rights commemorative. If you want to report back, I would read it.

    Second, I don’t think the design shown in this post is better than the selected one. I don’t think the crowd scene would have translated well (suspect it would have looked like a bunch of bumps), and the Liberty Bell motif is awkward. At least the design that was picked showed some action.

    Finally, don’t show so much disdain for the “disturbances”. Those “disturbances” (we tend to call it the Civil Rights Movement in polite society) were brave people standing up to long standing, hideous oppression and often suffering brutal consequences. The Civil Rights Act came after the bravery, not before. Without their sacrifice (and protests, and yelling, and civil disobedience) it would not have been enacted. Seems like a good American topic to portray on our coinage.

  14. thePhelps says

    @Mac… the coin was to be about the passing of the law. The coin instead was about the protests leading to the law. 2 different topics – one coin. They went with the topic they wanted – and didn’t make a very big impression with coin collectors. So be it…

    With the new technology employed by the mint the coin would have been great – with the Liberty Bell design.

    You may be right it might have been a good topic for a coin – history will show that it wasn’t a good choice for a coin.

  15. Sith says

    @MacHeathOhio – What you say is all true, but it is also true that The Civil Rights Act coin was a flop. IMHO people would be more motivated to buy a coin that showed the positive outcome and a united nation, rather than dwell on the darker period before that historic event. Also the Liberty Bell motif is not awkward when you consider that the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act was commemorated with a national bell-ringing ceremony.

    For the record I did not like the liberty bell design but after researching the significance and relation to the national bell-ringing ceremony, and the comments posted here I would have bought one. I did not buy the released coin.

  16. Sith says

    @MacHeathOhio – I should have also mentioned that on more than a few occasions commenters here have pointed out to me that coins I initially disliked or though were busy would look fantastic on a proof coin, and if the coin gets released they have been correct, and the coins look fantastic. In either case I doubt sales would have been any worst had they taken a chance with the Liberty Bell design

  17. Louis says

    Keep in mind it is the Treasury Secretary, not the CCAC, that chose the protest design. The CCAC recommended the Liberty Bell design.
    In my view this coin sold poorly because the design was not very compelling artistically, not because people did not like the protesters, who were in fact integral to the passage of the CRA. Congress and Johnson would not have acted without the protests. Besides aren’t the people in the Liberty Bell design (the crowds) also protesters?

  18. Tinto says


    Thanks for the reminder on the CCAC choice on the CRA

    I too thought the chosen obverse design stunk (I wanted to use another word that started with “s” but it might get moderated out). The Liberty Bell design would have been great showing the masses that fought for their rights. The reverse is pretty nice though, with the three flames. I didn’t buy any, the obverse was just ….

  19. thePhelps says

    Louis… you are correct I believe that the Liberty Bell contains protesters. They are part of the theme – which makes the whole a bit more compelling to me than the straight up in your face protest march. The Liberty Bell design is a symbolic celebration of the event, the actual coin was more symbolic of the process. (IMO)

  20. Sith says

    Louis – I forgot about that, but looking back at it I imagine the Treasury Secretary was under the influence of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), which was the beneficiary organization for the commemorative coin, and they endorsed the obverse design candidate.

    But I disagree with your other point, …I want to imagine that the people are celebrating not protesting

  21. GoldFishin says

    I was taking a break from the coin hobby during the design releases of the Civil Rights coin…..but I have to say that the Liberty Bell design is tremendous and SO creatively pensive. I would have bought at least one of each proof and uncirculated. A proof would have looked awesome! I hope they resurrect it at a later date, maybe as a coin commemorating MLK or something else….it would look nice as a reverse design also.

  22. Ends in Error says

    So I’m reading that in Zimbabwea a 100 Trillion Dollar note is worth about 4 US Cents. How is it that ebay sellers want around $5 each for that worthless paper?

    It’s obvious a person would be ahead of the game buying rolls of toilet paper. At least there is a good use for toilet paper.

  23. Sith says

    I have a few of those notes, it’s really nice to say I’m a trillionare. I also have Turkish 1 million Lyra coin….I’m rich I tell you rich!

  24. Jsm says

    Off topic but anyone have any luck finding the homestead 004 variety quarters? I am trying to figure out how many were made?

  25. high low silver says

    Call me “Old School” but I liked all the 2014 Platinum coin designs!

  26. jeff says

    More Cheese By The Mint Blog. Could Of Been, Should Of Been, Nearly, Thought About It, What Were They Thinking, I Could Of Done Better, Who’s In Charge Over There, Why Didn’t They, How Come, Weird, Who thought Of That, Someone’s Smoking Crack, Are They On Drugs, That’s Pathetic, WE COULD CARELESS OF WHAT COULD OF BEEN. Lets Get Busy on Substance Here And Now, Future We Don’t Have A Voice Can Anyone Hear ME Charlie Foxtrot Zulu

  27. fmtransmitter says

    @Louis: thanks, got it today. Been looking through it, for mum errors. I could flip an error red book! Was kook…that’s just kookie those sellers. Paradise said theirs have been sitting in customs for weeks. They end up going for around $65 by end of year but may have more demand due to 25th. I know I asked them to save me one when they get them just because I enjoy that particular series…he said they are first 500 struck label as well, if that means anything. Is there any modern proofs graded less than a 69? If so they just use the gem uncirculated label, which means a 68 imo..

  28. merryxmasmrscrooge says

    What about a the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. 1865-2015.
    Nobody though of that?

  29. JSM says

    Anybody else surprised that the mint has already shipped 66% of the MOD sets. I had heard people guessing that the mint had only shipped 15000 to 20000 sets to create buzz. With only 25,000 sets left to ship, I think these go up in price

  30. Ends in Error says

    I’m so happy someone can get excited by Roosevelt Dimes. On the subject of Commemoratives- why do they need to Commemorate anything? Why not just dream up the most beautiful Coins possible and release a few every month? Limit the mintages. Don’t limit the mintages. Who cares anyway.

  31. Brice says

    OT, anyone’s take on the (E=mc2 privy) reverse proof male leaf? Worth an investment? Thanks!!

  32. Clark says


    The 2015 E=mc2 privy marked silver Maple Leaf coin is a unique privy mark (mintage 50,000), but selling for almost 2x spot. I’ve collected all privy marked SMLs since the RCM started issuing them back in 1998 and it’s one tough series to complete today. If you collect these coins, this one, which commemorates the 100th year of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, is a must have for your collection.

    The Einstein coin is much easier to get than this year’s other 2015 SML with a Heart privy mark, honoring the Fisher House Foundation, and last year’s 2014 SML horse privy with a hieroglyphics privy mark and mintage of only 1000. I paid big premiums for those two coins, which makes the Einstein coin a bargain by comparison. It should increase in value slightly over time and, like most others of this series, not decrease in value. Hope this helps.

  33. GoldFishin says

    @Clark- I was going through some of my Maple leafs, those that are in unsealed tubes or capsules, and was very saddened to discover that several now had the dreaded milk spots. It wasn’t a very high percentage, but I would say about 10% of them on average had them. I have been collecting various types of the privy marked and wildlife series maple leafs for about 8 years. Have you had any significant issues with milk spotting in your privy collection? So far, mine have been pretty clean, the worst ML offenders I have found so far is the 2013 25th anniversary ML’s and the 2012 Moose coins. Neither showed any signs of spotting when I purchased them, but both came from the same vendor out of Florida. Also have a graded Bison coin that spotted inside a NGC slab, the only NGC slabbed coin I own with any spotting issues. I have never had any spotting issues with the ATB coins, and am now considering going exclusively with the 5 oz ATB’s. I quit collecting ASE’s years ago because of milk spotting issues.

  34. Clark says


    Unfortunately, some of even the most initially pristine silver maple leaf coins (I haven’t seen it on my Wildlife series coins yet) eventually develop those dreaded “milk” spots. IMO, blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the Royal Canadian Mint where residue of cleaning agents was left on coins when they went through the annealing furnace at the RCM. Detergent is baked into the coins themselves leaving spots that cannot be removed with a single lick. I have not attempted to remove the blemishes; you may or may not be able to remove them, but do so at your own risk. If you really want a scare, look at SMLs under a black light.

    I’ve found that storing SMLs in more expensive direct fit capsules with a tight seal reduces exposure to humidity and helps prevent milk spots from showing over time. NGC slabs aren’t air tight, so try storing slabbed SMLs in a dry place with a lot of desiccant packs.

  35. GoldFishin says

    @Clark- oh, Clark, you haven’t seen the pencil eraser videos on youtube? 🙂 I personally have never dipped, stripped, or otherwise cleaned a coin. I have silver ML’s that are stored in same air-tites, same conditions, a few spotted and most others not. Like you said, it happens at the RCM and ultimately there is nothing that can be done about it outside of proper storage and/or a buyer’s strike. Good luck, thanks!

  36. Clark says

    @GF–Hee Hee. The only eraser YouTube video I’ve seen is some moron cleaning his coin collection with a pencil eraser. Same one?

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