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An Interview With U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder

DavidRyderInterview

A Coin Analyst Exclusive

By Louis Golino for CoinWeek …..
David J. Ryder, the 39th Director of the USA Mint, assumed his new position on Might 31, 2018. Ryder has in depth skilled expertise relevant to operating the Mint, having served in different authorities positions and spent over 20 years working for corporations that develop anti-counterfeiting applied sciences.

He’s also served as the Mint director before, underneath presidents George H. W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton, from September 1992 to November 1993.

Mr. Ryder is the primary presidentially-appointed and congressionally-approved Mint Director since Edmund C. Moy left the U.S. Mint in 2011. Within the interim, the Mint was run by a number of individuals serving in an appearing capacity.

In lower than a yr, Mr. Ryder has already had a substantial impression on the U.S. Mint’s operations and products. For instance, he has initiated partnerships with several overseas mints to develop products collectively with them and just lately appointed Joseph Menna as the 13th Chief Engraver after that place remained unfilled for nearly a decade after the retirement of John Mercanti in 2010.

To discover his present initiatives and his ideas for revitalizing the Mint, I carried out a wide-ranging interview with him on March 15 on every thing from totally different forms of Liberty to easy methods to higher market numismatic products, work with the Congress to assist craft laws that impacts the Mint and encourage extra young individuals to enter the interest and lots of others. Throughout our dialogue, he shared some necessary information that has not been previously reported.

Louis Golino: Last October through the third Numismatic Discussion board, you mentioned plans to launch a scarce coin into circulation. Is that still within the works?

David Ryder: As has been reported, we put out that penny [the 2019-W Lincoln cent] in the proof set [the 2019 U.S. Mint Proof Set] that was fairly common. One other program has not been announced and will probably be in an identical product, however I can’t yet go into details on that. I feel the collector group will like it. I do know the West Level penny has resulted in a dramatic rise in proof set gross sales, which tells me that has been pretty profitable. I hope this subsequent venture may have an identical impact, and I plan on doing other issues as time goes on so as to begin getting collectors more interested in this pastime. I always speak to advertising individuals about things that may generate interest.

LG: I’m very interested within the coin design process and was pleased to study of Joseph Menna’s current appointment because the Mint’s Chief Engraver and consider that, once once more, having someone in that place will enhance the designs that seem on the Mint’s coins. Are you able to tell me more concerning the position he’ll play overseeing the coin design improvement process?

DR: Once I was Mint Director earlier than, John Mercanti [who in 2006 became the 12th Chief Engraver] was there, and I feel I appointed him. Then sooner or later, one other director got rid of the place. One of many first issues I did once I acquired here was to get the Chief Engraver place again into the Mint and engraving group as a result of I feel it is vital. I like Joseph’s type and his enthusiasm for the job, and assume he will convey that to the Philadelphia Mint and engraver store. I encourage them to do a a lot better job. I encouraged him to be artistic and along those strains inspired the CCAC [Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee] to be more artistic in their number of designs.

I have been very vocal with our design employees to be more artistic. I like the Artist Infusion Program to get extra artists involved. I am an enormous proponent of adjusting the status quo so far as designs. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could be very involved within the process. I feel with Joe on board and a special philosophy going ahead with designs, I feel it’ll go a great distance. There are nonetheless issues out of my control in the context of how designs are chosen. But going ahead I plan on being a proponent to assist legislators higher interpret the laws and be extra artistic so far as designs. And to have language that provides designers more freedom, so I am an enormous proponent of adjusting the established order.

LG-: Are there specific features of the designs that you simply really feel must be improved, or is it more of an general view?

DR-: I take heed to the CCAC so much. I have met the Fee on Fantastic Arts and assume the Mint has carried out a reasonably good job on choosing designs, however I feel we will do a greater job. We have to attempt new things that haven’t been tried on the Mint. Coin redesign and issues like which might be necessary to put on the table and have a dialogue about it. Doing the identical thing time and again is one factor. But making an attempt to problem the status quo is one thing I take pleasure in doing. Do I win every time? No, however I do have a voice and plan to use my voice.

LG: In addition to the planned two-coin half greenback Apollo 11 50th anniversary set to be launched at the side of the Royal Australian Mint, are there other packages within the works with different world mints corresponding to a attainable three-coin North American Mint set you mentioned last summer time at the ANA show or others?

DR: That is all the time a work in progress, but I’ve an fascinating program with the British Royal Mint on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower touchdown in America. We are working a joint venture with them that has come quite a great distance. I hope to have that out but this yr, and the Royal Mint could be very keen on the partnership. I’m working with the Canadians [the Royal Canadian Mint] on doing a three way partnership venture, once more hopefully this yr, and have been in discussions with the Spanish and am also in conversations with the Italians on something that isn’t as far along. But it’s a must to begin the dialog.

Polish Mint CoinI’m an enormous supporter of a few of these overseas mints, which the U.S. has a bit of to study from. The Polish Mint has some lovely merchandise, some really lovely stuff. We will use the Mint’s muscle and develop joint products. It is a vital a part of the Mint to attempt to create these kind of relationships.

LG: Over the past discussion board, you additionally mentioned plans to work more intently with the Congress in shaping laws that impacts the Mint. Can you please provide some highlights of what has happened on this space over the previous six months?

DR: It’s type of a work in progress within the sense that I firmly consider that america Mint must work with Congress and educate those individuals who need to attempt to get legislation handed. That as an alternative of simply tasking a bit of laws for an necessary event, milestone, and so forth., america Mint work with Congress in order that the laws is the appropriate laws and that we’ve a say on mintage levels and a say on design and a say on how we market and promote it.

If Congress is prepared, which I consider they are, the Mint has an unlimited quantity of historical past and expertise since 1980 when Lee Iacocca commissioned the Statue of Liberty commemorative coin program [In 1982, Iacocca was appointed to head the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation that recommended commemorative coins be issued as part of its efforts to raise money for restoration of the monument. —LG] that was handed and was a huge success. I feel we may also help Congress create better legislation if we speak to them. It’s very simple.

LG: Are you able to elaborate on plans to maneuver away from depicting Woman Liberty as a female resembling on the Visions of Liberty program and how it will differ from the current American Liberty collection?

DR: To start with, the Woman Liberty program itself is wildly profitable and a extremely popular design. I adore it. But that stated, I’ve said various occasions that Liberty takes numerous totally different types, and there are plenty of interpretations of what Liberty means to a whole lot of totally different individuals. Again to the thought of providing new designs in the context of the 24Okay gold venture, it is my duty is to offer the Secretary as many decisions as potential in the form of what Liberty means. If it is a starburst of a firework going off on the Fourth of July or one thing that, it takes so many various types, and I’m all in favor of adjusting the design to incorporate the totally different types of Liberty, what it means for many totally different individuals.

LG: Many collectors are concerned about rising premiums on numismatic gadgets from the Mint, particularly when coupled with rising valuable metallic costs. Are there methods these premiums might be lowered, corresponding to selling cash in capsules with out the other packaging? I do know this is being achieved within the bulk sales program resembling for proof Silver Eagles, but might it’s extended to retail sales?

DR: To start with, if I don’t take heed to my clients, I will get in hassle. I have heard from numerous clients that our pricing is just too high. If I can make a sale to a customer that doesn’t need all the packaging, it is a sensible factor to do. It isn’t one thing that I’m doing right now, however it’s one thing I have talked to my employees about, and we’re going to be addressing those points. If I a have a certain phase of my clients who would like that, it behooves me to take heed to them and create a product for that phase. I feel it makes all of the sense on the earth. I only recently employed a brand new director of selling. I can’t get into who they are, however they have a whole lot of experience in this market and loads of power. There are loads of modifications I’ve already carried out and plan on doing in the whole advertising area of our products.

LG: Are there plans in place or planned to encourage more young individuals to become involved within the interest aside from the rocketship and dinosaur coin units and a few instructional options of the Mint’s web site?

DR: It’s an space once I was Mint Director in the 90s, we created the Cash Story — an academic device that was meant for youngsters as much as sixth grade. It included a instructor’s curriculum information, VHS tape and penny guide to teach. I intend to advertise this pastime to younger youngsters in our faculties. It’s the third- or fourth-ranked website in all of government, and a variety of that’s with youngsters. I intend to focus plenty of merchandise in the direction of youngsters; we now have an effort to do some new quarter packages. Lots of that’s the efforts targeted on youngsters and accumulating, and I’ve stated to my employees if I can get even a half of 1% of youngsters to grow to be collectors, I feel our customer base can be well-off for the foreseeable future. So, I feel it’s a obligation of mine. I am not going to get them all, but with new kinds of tools, apps and digital advertising and issues we are taking a look at growing the enterprise. It is one thing I am very fascinated with.

LG: Is the Mint exploring the right way to higher retain older collectors, who are the mint’s core clients, and what are some examples of that?

DR: Positive, there’s a variety of ways to try this. That may be a essential phase of our enterprise. Once I was Mint Director earlier than, my buyer base was in excess of two.5 million clients, give or take. We at the moment are down under 500,00, and that’s simply not acceptable. While it seems like a large number, we’ve lost a lot of people perhaps due to design, pricing, there are a whole lot of reasons. I can retain them if the worth is true, if I create new designs, start doing issues like privy marks. One of the necessary things is mintage levels. So, it’s a market that has sustained the Mint a long time, and I feel like I owe it to them, this market phase, to do issues to retain clients, it’s an important part of our business. A number of the things we’re doing and might be doing are instantly marketed at that phase.

The Secretary has the authority to approve sure things whereas others are mandated by laws. To the extent there are issues we will control, I need to do this better with more artistic designs, more artistic products, and so on and so forth… Some issues which are sure by legislation, however there’s nothing that says you’ll be able to’t go and speak to a legislator. It’s typically troublesome to go that means. There’s a number of custom in this nation, people who don’t need to see issues changed, but there’s nothing that says you possibly can’t tweak one thing right here or there.

LG: You advised me in a earlier trade that you’re one thing of a collector yourself because of your abroad travels.

DR: I feel I’ve traveled to 148-150 overseas nations. And my guess is in my drawer, or in a box, I have foreign money from everywhere in the world. I’ve received quite quite a lot of plastic luggage of coinage. Because of my age, and I started some 40-years in the past, some of it might be collectors… I used to be in Afghanistan doing something in a previous life, and I used to be in a souk and someone was selling Saddam Hussein foreign money and Morgan silver dollars that I am positive have been counterfeited. But you realize once you journey, you see all types of things in markets, and so forth. I in all probability do have fairly an fascinating collection. My spouse would in all probability wish to see me eliminate numerous the packing containers. I’m preserving it round for the youngsters. Perhaps someday I will go through it all and see what’s there.

LG: Lastly, does the Mint view the difficulty of adjusting the reverse of the silver eagle as closed no less than for now? Wouldn’t it be attainable to make use of a brand new reverse such as the one advisable several years ago by the CCAC [Design change can be recommended once every 25 years. –LG] that was used on the 2016 American Liberty silver medals and gold cash on a numismatic program such as the proof Silver Eagle, maybe with a new reverse annually because the Royal Mint does with its proof Britannia program?

DR: I’ll discover it. You’re right that the Secretary has the authority to vary a design after 25 years. I’m not going to go out and do one thing alone. It needs to be something the Secretary is involved with. The varieties of coinage you’re talking about are pretty steeped in tradition, and if we modify it, will probably be around one other 25 years. So, we’ve to be careful and due diligence on what a design change may be. But yes, I’m absolutely serious about discussing these prospects, however it isn’t finally my choice. It needs to be executed in session with all those individuals, and so on. If the Secretary decides he needs to try this, my job is to ensure he has designs to select from, and there needs to be due diligence with individuals such as you on this business, those with a stake, and that it’s timeless and emblematic of america of America and that it is something individuals would need to gather. I am more inclined to current one thing to the Secretary at the applicable time and see what he has to say.

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Lou GolinoLouis Golino is an award-winning numismatic journalist and author, specializing primarily in trendy U.S. and world coins. His work has appeared in CoinWeek since 2011. He also presently writes common features for Coin World, The Numismatist, and CoinUpdate.com, and has been revealed in Numismatic News, COINage, and FUNTopics, amongst other coin publications. He has additionally been extensively revealed on worldwide political, army, and economic issues.

In 2015, his CoinWeek.com column “The Coin Analyst” acquired an award from the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) for Greatest Web site Column. In 2017, he acquired an NLG award for Greatest Article in a Non-Numismatic Publication together with his piece, “Liberty Centennial Designs”.

In October 2018, he acquired a literary award from the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) for his 2017 article, “Lady Liberty: America’s Enduring Numismatic Motif” that appeared in The Clarion.

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