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The E-Sylum: Volume 21, Number 4, January 27, 2019, Article 33

SCARINCI ON THE U.S. MINT'S NEW MEDAL PROGRAM

CCAC member Donald Scarinci published an article about the Mint's new medal program in his personal blog January 22, 2018. He offers important background information and a well-reasoned look into the future. -Editor

Joe Siegel medal obverse Last week, after years of prodding by members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the collector community, the United States Mint finally announced a medal program. Unfortunately, it is nothing more than a bullion sales program and is likely to do more to discourage future medal collectors than to encourage them.

The current plan is to reissue the bronze presidential medal series on proof silver eagle dollar size planchets. Then, the plan is to eventually honor each branch of the armed services with similar proof silver eagle dollar size medals. That’s the plan: more restrike medals and more military themes from the United States Mint.

While the Mint marketing team may have heard the CCAC’s plea for a medal program, they did not listen. The CCAC has been advocating an annual art medal program that is more like those offered by many other world mints.

Liberate and Stimulate Artists to Create Better Coin Designs

A competition for a United States Mint medal, unencumbered by the directions and design restrictions that are usually placed on coins, would liberate and stimulate artistic excellence. Great artists have to labor through boring instructions for coin designs, only to listen to CCAC members complain about the designs.

A medal program would unleash new, contemporary designs. The artists would have the freedom to display their talent and create hand-held works of art that inspire and evoke emotion. They would most certainly win much needed recognition for themselves and for the Mint. A medal program like this would then have a positive impact on the work that Congress asks these same artists to do with coins.

Medals should not be bullion products. The truth is that the U.S. Mint’s marketing team cannot project art medal sales. They can project bullion sales. So they went with what they know. The Mint’s marketing department completely understands the precious metals market, but they have no idea what collectors want or how collectors think. To expect them to design a program to encourage collectors and create a new market is far beyond their comfort zone.

Be sure to read the complete article online for excellent insights into the medal and bullion markets, which closes with an evaluation of the Franklin Mint's impact. -Editor

Remember the Lesson of the Franklin Mint of the 1960’s

The MBA’s need look no further than the case study of the Franklin Mint. Private minting facilities seldom offer bullion products directly to the retail collecting community. Instead, they make products in volume for retailers who take the risk. Since the United States Mint is both a minting facility and a direct retail outlet with a large customer base, they likely will increase profits in the short term without concern for the damage in the long term. Unlike the business risk for private mints, the United States Mint has a superseding national interest.

The medal collecting specialty never recovered from Joel Siegel’s Franklin Mint marketing efforts. The stigma on medals that he caused still exists. The only good thing he did in addition to making short term profits for himself was to provide a training ground for sculptors to learn and grow. Don Everhart is an example of that. Don will tell you that he learned his craft at the Franklin Mint. Many other great artists who made those Franklin Mint medals would say the same thing.

It needs to be said that Franklin Mint medals will eventually have their comeback. However, their comeback will not be bullion-based. It will be numismatic.

I agree that the products of the Franklin Mint are unfairly overlooked by today's collectors due to the stigma of price crashes; a number of them had high-quality production values and designs by top artists of the day. Don't count them out. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Newly-Announced US Mint Medal Program is Just Bullion (http://donaldscarinci.com/newly-announced-us-mint-medal-program-is-just-bullion/)

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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