2012 First Spouse Gold Coin Designs Revealed

by Mike Unser on April 23, 2012 · 7 comments

In addition to preparing for several new product launches this week, the United States Mint on Monday announced the designs for the upcoming 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins — their release dates have yet to be published.

Line Art Designs of 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins

Line Art Designs of the 2012 First Spouse Gold Coins

This year’s one-half ounce, 24-karat gold coins will honor and feature Alice Paul and the suffrage movement, Frances Cleveland (first term), Caroline Harrison and Frances Cleveland (second term).

These coins will be the twenty-second through twenty-fifth released in the spousal series which was introduced alongside the Presidential $1 Coins in 2007. They are companions to the 2012 Presidential $1 Coins honoring Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland (first term), Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland (second term).

The U.S. Mint will offer proof and uncirculated collector versions for a total of eight coins with each minted from 99.99% fine gold. The new designs will also be featured on 1-5/16 inch First Spouse bronze medals. Coin prices will depend on the prevailing market price of gold during the time of their release, but the First Spouse Medals prices are known and will be $7.95 each.

Common design elements on the obverse of each spousal coin are inscriptions of IN GOD WE TRUST, LIBERTY, 2012, and the name of the person honored. Common reverse inscriptions include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM, $10, 1/2 OZ, and .9999 FINE GOLD.

Below are images and descriptions of the designs. The images may be enlarged with a click.

Alice Paul and the Suffrage Movement Gold Coin Designs

Alice Paul and the Suffrage Movement Gold Coin Obverse Design

Alice Paul Obverse Design

Alice Paul and the Suffrage Movement Gold Coin Reverse Design

Alice Paul Reverse Design

Whenever possible, First Spouse Gold Coins celebrate the wives of former Presidents as mandated by Public Law 109-135. In instances where a President served without a spouse, the law — with one exception — requires an image of Liberty featured on a coin of the era. The one exception is Alice Paul’s portrait which will appear on the very first 2012 coin.

"In the case of President Chester Alan Arthur, by a design incorporating the name and likeness of Alice Paul, a leading strategist in the suffrage movement, who was instrumental in gaining women the right to vote upon the adoption of the 19th amendment and thus the ability to participate in the election of future Presidents, and who was born on January 11, 1885, during the term of President Arthur," Public Law 109-135 states.

The obverse portrait of Alice Paul was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. Unique inscriptions include ALICE PAUL and SUFFRAGE.

The reverse design depicts a participant marching in a suffrage parade, holding a flag and wearing the banner that reads "Votes for Women." It was created and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.

Frances Cleveland (First Term) First Spouse Gold Coin Designs

Frances Cleveland (First Term) First Spouse Gold Coin Obverse Design

Frances Cleveland (First Term) Obverse Design

Frances Cleveland (First Term) First Spouse Gold Coin Reverse Design

Frances Cleveland (First Term) Reverse Design

Joel Iskowitz designed the obverse portrait that is seen on the first term Frances Cleveland First Spouse Gold Coins. Inscriptions include FRANCES CLEVELAND, 22nd, and 1886-1889. It was sculpted by Don Everhart.

The reverse design depicts the working women’s receptions that Mrs. Cleveland often held at the White House. Barbara Fox is the coin’s designer. Michael Gaudioso is credited for the sculpting.

Caroline Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin Designs

Caroline Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin Obverse Design

Caroline Harrison Obverse Design

Caroline Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin Reverse Design

Caroline Harrison Reverse Design

Obverses of Caroline Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins were designed by Frank Morris and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. Inscriptions include CAROLINE HARRISON, 23rd, and 1889-1892.

The reverses represent Mrs. Harrison’s love of flowers as it depicts an orchid and paint brushes. The design is by Donna Weaver with sculpting by Charles Vickers.

Frances Cleveland (Second Term) First Spouse Gold Coin Designs

Frances Cleveland (Second Term) First Spouse Gold Coin Obverse Design

Frances Cleveland (Second Term) Obverse Design

Frances Cleveland (Second Term) First Spouse Gold Coin Reverse Design

Frances Cleveland (Second Term) Reverse Design

Barbara Fox designed the portrait seen on the obverse of the second term gold coins for Frances Cleveland. Inscriptions include FRANCES CLEVELAND, 24th, and 1892-1897. This obverse was sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.

Both designed and sculpted by Joseph Menna, the reverse depicts an event emblematic of Mrs. Cleveland’s popularity with the public.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

george glazener April 24, 2012 at 7:36 am

Impressive! These look gorgeous, esp. the Frances Folsom Cleveland coins. I think this 2012 group will reinvigorate the 1st Spouse Series. Presidential trivia buffs will recall that the marriage of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom was one of the biggest media sensations of that era, right up there with Charles & Diana’s wedding. And it took place in the White House, a first.

george glazener April 24, 2012 at 7:45 am

Interesting also to note that Caroline Harrison’s dates are 1889-1892, not 1893. She died of TB in October 1892 while husband Benjamin was in re-election mode. She was one of three First Ladies to die “in office”, the others being Letitia Tyler in 1842 and Ellen Wilson in 1914.

jim April 24, 2012 at 9:52 am

Sales have steadily gone down from beginning to end of 2011 and even though the mint reduced the max mintage from 15,000 to 5,000 there’s only a possibility of a sell out for Mrs. Garfield. So the trend seems to be the more recent the spouse the smaller the sales are. Maybe there’ll be a resurgence when we get to spouses that some people still living might remember, e.g. Eleanor Roosevelt.
Otherwise even though some of these coins are the rarest the mint has released there seems to be little chance of them becoming real collector’s pieces. I myself found the $ commitment for collecting a set way beyond my means.

Vachon April 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

What happened to the use of Liberty as depicted on then-current circulating coins for those Presidents who were unmarried or widowered while in office? Alice Paul does not belong. Not that I feel this whole First Spouse NCLT series was a good idea to begin with…or the Presidential Dollar program.

george glazener April 24, 2012 at 11:15 am

@ Jim; I agree, When we get to Eleanor Roosevelt and beyond, starting in 2014, I really think the interest will pick up. The late 19th century was a rather dull phase of the US Presidency, and it’s reflecting in these poor selling products.
@Vachon; You’re also right. This choice surprised me too. I guess somebody made a strong case to the MINT that this person was really REALLY important to the country at that particular time. Politically motivated selection? Sure looks like it.

werner c tseng April 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

it already costs more to collect this series than the gold buffalos. to get pcgs first strike on all 8 coins (4 proofs and 4 uncirculated) will cost more than $10k this year. so the condensed release schedule is really not helping. i’m not sure if i can continue to keep collecting this series. the first coin should have been release in March.

george glazener April 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Neither can I. That’s why I just get the bronze versions. Same gorgeous women at a fraction of the price..!!

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