The series of design proposals for the 2011 First Spouse Gold Coins have been created and presented to various officials and review bodies, including the Commission of Fine Arts or CFA.
The one-half ounce, 24 karat gold coins that debuted in 2007 continue into 2011 by honoring the spouses of the 17th through 20th Presidents of the United States — Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and James A. Garfield.
The obverse of each $10 denominated coin portrays a former First Lady while its reverse depicts a significant moment or aspect of their lives. The 2011 gold pieces will feature themes for Eliza Johnson, Julia S. Grant, Lucy Hayes, and Lucretia Garfield.
A total of 34 varying design candidates were created by United States Mint artists depicting the ladies. One obverse and one reverse design will be selected for each spouse that will appear on the collector uncirculated and proof First Spouse Coins, and for the First Spouse bronze medals.
Line art images of those designs, as well as CFA recommendations follow (click on any image to enlarge it):
2011 Eliza Johnson First Spouse Gold Coin Designs
The five obverse design candidates depict various poses of Eliza McCardle Johnson who married Andrew Johnson on May 17, 1827, when she was only sixteen. Johnson became the 17th U.S. President following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. He served between 1865-1869.
Johnson Obverse Proposals
The Commission of Fine Arts recommended the second (#2) obverse, noting that the other designs had an "excessively severe appearance."
Johnson Reverse Proposals
Three of the four reverse designs depict Eliza reading to a younger Johnson while he works in his tailor’s business, while a fourth candidate portrays a children’s ball at the White House. The CFA did not outright recommend any of them. They did support the first two, however. The commission requested that design #1 be simplified, and that design #2 should be further explored to better depict the scene at a smaller scale.
2011 Julia S. Grant First Spouse Gold Coin Designs
Julia Dent Grant married the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, on August 22, 1848 — 21 years before Grant was elected into the highest office of the land. Julia was the First Lady from 1869 through 1877.
Grant Obverse Proposals
The three portrait designs proposals for the obverse of Julia’s coin feature two of her posing to the left and one to the right, each with varying styles of hair and dress. The Commission of Fine Arts recommended design #2, noting it was "flattering and places less emphasis on the hair ornamentation."
Grant Reverse Proposals
The CFA had five possible reverse designs to select from, with each showing a traveling or military related scene. Julia often accompanied her husband to the various military posts he was assigned.
The commission was not satisfied with any of the candidates, choosing instead to suggest further development work on designs #1 or #2, stating:
"#1 could be adjusted to remove the table and straighten Mrs. Grant’s pose; the composition of #2 could be adjusted to feature Mrs. Grant alone and to move the horse’s nose further from the edge of the coin."
The CFA asked that at least one of them be resubmitted for review.
2011 Lucy Hayes First Spouse Gold Coin Designs
Lucy Birchard Hayes was 21 when she married Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States on December 30, 1852. The couple spent four years in the White House between 1877-1881.
Eight artist renderings were created for the Hayes coins — three obverse and five reverse.
Hayes Obverse Proposals
The three coin portraits of Lucy feature similar hairstyles, bonnets and dresses but differing posing strikes. The Commission of Fine Arts recommend proposal #2, feeling it had more "strength."
Hayes Reverse Proposals
Three of the reverse candidate designs featured Lucy with children, while the other two feature her with Rutherford. The CFA preferred and recommended design # 4 which has a scene with Lucy helping children during an Easter egg roll. The commission did request that the background image of the White House be shown in "very low relief."
2011 Lucretia Garfield First Spouse Gold Coin Designs
Lucretia Rudolph Garfield was 26 when she became the wife of James A. Garfield, who later became the 20th President of the United States. The couple began their courtship in December 1853, but did not marry until November 1858. James Garfield was elected to the Presidency and moved as a family with five children to the White House in 1881. Lucretia became ill and nearly died in May of that year. During her recovery, her husband was shot by an assassin on July 2. She cared for him until he died on September 19, 1881. Lucretia was only 49.
Garfield Obverse Proposals
Nine proposed designs were created for the Lucretia Garfield First Spouse Coins — four obverse and five reverse. The Commission of Fine Arts preferred and recommended the second design (#2) obverse portrait, feeling it was the most pleasing of the group, and that her hair in the design did not have "undue emphasis."
Garfield Reverse Proposals
The reverse themes were varied, with the CFA noting the degree of research and details involved in their creation. The commission recommended design #5, which depicts Lucretia in a seated position while painting. They did suggest simplifying aspects of the it, pointing out that the window curtains in the background should be eliminated.
The Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the above designs on July 15, 2010, and provided their recommendations to U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy on July 23, 2010.
The final First Spouse Gold Coin designs will be selected by the U.S. Treasury Secretary, following further reviews, design tweaks and after receiving recommendations from the U.S. Mint Director. The first of four 2011 gold coins will not likely be released until February or March of next year. The other three coins will follow in equal intervals, or about every three months.