Pilots and Planes on Gold Medal
By David C. Harper
the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee Oct. 14,
there were the obvious design choices for two
upcoming congressional gold medals and the not
so obvious choices.
Members of the Commission of Fine Arts Oct. 15
felt the same way, but made different choices.
Getting overwhelming approval from members of
the CCAC through the panel’s method of awarding
points to designs under consideration were
proposed obverse and reverse designs for the
Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gold medal.
For the obverse, gaining 21 of 24 possible
points, was a woman pilot climbing from the
cockpit of a plane.
The reverse recommendation garnered all 24
possible points. It shows American warplanes in
flight with the legend “The First Women in
History to Fly American Military Aircraft.”
Alternative obverse designs depicted a
three-quarter profile of a woman pilot
dominating one design while three pilots in a
variety of garb are shown walking from a plane
on the other.
Chairman Mitch Sanders said, “For the obverse of
the WASP medal, some members felt that the
portrayal on design 2 (the three-quarter
profile) was reminiscent of Hollywood, and that
the image on design 3 appeared to be somewhat
He stressed, “members appreciated the clarity of
the aviation theme on design 1, the favored
For the WASP reverse, design 1 was unanimously
considered far superior to design 2.
The second reverse design was a set of WASP
Members of the CFA like the “Hollywood” obverse
design and “requested some changes” on the
reverse choice, said Thomas Luebke, CFA
Though the CFA liked the flying airplanes, the
members did not like the treatment of the wings.
Some went outside of the border and some were
clipped by the border. The CFA wants to see a
continuously round border with all of the wings
either within it or going beyond it. The CFA
also did not like the wings at the bottom in its
own space apart from the other portion of the
Luebke said the CFA members thought the wings
should float within the design.
The CCAC votes split more closely when it came
to the designs for the Constantino Brumidi gold
medal. He was a painter of works for the
interior of the Capitol in Washington in the
For the obverse, taking 18 points was design No.
2. Taking 12 points was design No. 1, which was
another full-facing portrait of the artist.
The CFA wanted to see a composite of the two.
The members liked the composition of obverse
design No. 1, but preferred the portrait itself
in design No. 2.
For the reverse, the CCAC choice was easier.
Sanders said, “For the Brumidi reverse, John
Alexander (the CCAC member appointed based on
special expertise in American history) argued
that the quotation attributed to Brumidi on
designs 1 and 3 was not supported by sufficient
historical evidence, and on that basis, these
designs did not receive any points from the
“Members generally preferred the iconic image of
the ‘Apotheosis of Washington’ for the medal’s
reverse, the famous artwork that appears on the
inside of the Capitol’s dome.
The work surrounds the simple statement, “Artist
of the Capitol.”
Coming in with nine points was reverse design
No. 4 with two allegorical figures.
The CFA members chose reverse design No. 1, but
suggested that the “Artist of the Capitol”
legend be used instead of the lengthy quotation.
Recommendations of the CCAC and the CFA go the
Treasury secretary as advisory, nonbinding
recommendations. The secretary makes the