Lame-duck Librarian Kermit Smyth announced that the club library was in transition to Incoming Librarian Wayne Mitchell.
Vice President Ed Russell anticipates the arrival of 2002 Red Books, both hardbacks and paperbacks, by the time of the August MCCC meeting. They will be for sale at great discounts for Club members.
Door prize winners for July were Sandy Swab, Jeff Crockett, and Mark Zimmermann. The Gold Raffle was won by Henry Adler. There was no Bison Chip drawing this month.
Ken Swab introduced Miley to the Club. He first met her in the early 1980s when he worked for the House Subcommittee associated with coinage. She brought a great design to the Congress, along with many endorsements and a high level of energy and enthusiasm --- which eventually let to Congress mandating her design for the coin.
Miley Frost in turn thanked Ken, and noted that for her, "The highlight of this evening is to get to see Ken." She began her talk by noting that, post-September 11, gold prices have risen significantly. Ms. Frost then sketched out her background. She described herself as a sculptor, not a medallic artist. About one year before the idea of a gold coin design had occurred to her she was with her family in Wyoming, doing research on the American bald eagle. She observed a nest of eagles on a rocky cliff above the Platt River --- babies who were brought fish and other food by their parents. Miley went back home to Dallas Texas and crafted a sculpture based on this theme.
Then, she reported, upon watching Ronald Reagan's acceptance speech to the 1980 Republican Convention his phrase "Together, a new beginning," caught her attention. She gave her sculpture that name. Then a friend, active in the Texas Republican Party, saw the sculpture and began to make telephone calls, which led to its being accepted as the official commemorative piece for President Reagan's first inauguration. A bronze casting of it, base signed by Ronald Reagan, sat in the Oval Office for the eight years of his Presidency. Miniature versions were given as gifts to those who attended the inauguration, and to the American hostages returning from Iran to meet with President Reagan.
At an inaugural ball, Miley said, while dancing with an ambassador she was told that her design should be used on a coin. Some time thereafter, during an airline flight, she read in the Wall St. Journal about the establishment of the Gold Commission to explore the possibility of US gold bullion coin issues. Ms. Frost seized the opportunity.
"I believe that families are the greatest asset and the most valued possessions in this country," Miley said. So she did a line drawing of a family of eagles, based on her sculpture, and added the caption "A symbolic tribute to the American family, senior citizens and young people".
Miley called the US Mint, and they invited her to visit. They liked her design, but told her that the Congress needed to approve it. So, she met with Congressmen and Senators, who accepted her proposal. "They didn't even hesitate --- it was most amazing!" she said.
Ms. Frost's goals for this process were:
It took five years, Miley reported. The South African Kruggerand had been banned, and Canadian Maple Leaf bullion gold coinage was to some degree taking its place. But many Congressmen and Senators were interested in seeing a US alternative. She met with staffers (including Ken Swab) of the House Subcommittee for Consumer Affairs and Coinage, and of the Senate Committee on Banking. She got letters from a family friend, Tom Landry (then coach of the Dallas Cowboys football team) and he in turn persuaded Joe Gibbs (then coach of the rival Washington Redskins) to write to Congress on behalf of Miley's design. She also got endorsements from the AFL&CIO union leadership, various religious groups, and both the Democratic and Republican Parties of Texas.
Miley described how she went to countless meetings with Congressmen and Senators, and thereby gathered a long list of co-sponsors for the legislation. She testified at hearings about the symbolism of the design. And she overcame several last-minute roadblocks, including an objection by Canada based on fears that a US gold bullion coin would cut into Canadian gold sales. Miley explained that she called a friend, the US Ambassador to France (Joe Rogers) who contacted the French Embassy and got them to talk with the Canadian Prime Minister over the phone, which helped defuse this problem.
Miley also met with Congressman Annunzio who to some degree seemed to oppose her design --- but she realized that he was actually being a devil's advocate when she saw a copy of her family of eagles sketch framed above his office doorway. She told of a meeting with then Secretary of the Treasury James Baker, who told her, "Miley, do not be deterred --- march forward with this."
Ms. Frost described how, somewhat like the current ruckus over the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, there was a flap over the "In God We Trust" motto on the US gold bullion coins. Some people proposed to leave it off. But a quick response by Congress mandated that it stay.
The bill endorsing her design passed unanimously, Ms. Frost reported. The coins were struck at West Point, and at the initial ceremony Miley and her two sons each had an opportunity to strike one, which they received as mementos of the occasion; so did the Treasurer of the US and Congressmen and Senators who were present. Miley displayed one of these coins to the MCCC.
Ms. Frost concluded her talk with a quote from Senator Exon, who gave generous credit to coin collectors for their helpful advice in the process. "They are truly the keepers of the Nation's history --- and in this case, they are truly creators of the Nation's history."
In response to questions from her audience, Ms. Frost explained that although she has remarried and moved to the DC area, she is not a Washington Redskins fan. "When Tom Landry was fired, I gave up football!" she said. Miley recounted that, concerning the obverse of the US gold eagle coins, the Treasury called her and she recommended the Augustus St. Gaudens $20 gold piece design. Her reverse face sketch was modified slightly: a sun and the rays eminating from it were removed to help with the striking process. Miley told of a tour she got of the US Mint with Elizabeth Jones, then director of the facility.
The US bullion gold coinage was first issued in 1987; the first striking ceremony took place on 20 October 1986.
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