The first in a series of coins celebrating American innovation was released recently by the United States Mint and the Georgia $1 coin features Trustees’ Garden in Savannah. Trustees’ Garden is owned by Charles Morris, the president and CEO of Savannah-based Morris Multimedia, which owns the Statesboro Herald.
“I do think it is very appropriate for Trustees’ Garden to be recognized with a coin,” Morris said. “After all, Savannah is the mother city of Georgia, the last of the 13 original colonies.”
The American Innovation series is a multi-year initiative by the Mint to honor innovators and innovations from each state, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories – Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. The 2019-dated coins represent Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia.
Four new $1 coins with distinctive designs will be released each year from 2019 through 2032 in the order the states ratified the Constitution of the United States or were admitted to the Union, said Michael White with the US Mint’s Office of Communications. On Jan. 2, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the Constitution, which is why it was among the first four coins to be released.
Morris said he was unaware Trustees’ Garden would be included in the coin series and only found out a few weeks ago when his daughter let him know.
“It does amaze me that I own a piece of property, really a piece of history, with a national coin named for it,” Morris said. “It is very humbling and a great honor.”
Trustees’ Garden was established in the 1730s as the first agricultural experimental garden in America. The Garden employed a botanist to collect seeds, drugs and dyestuff from other countries with a similar climate to conduct research on how they could be grown in Georgia.
White said the Mint worked with the Georgia governor’s office to develop the concept for the coin.
Cody Hall, press secretary for Gov. Brian Kemp’s office, said the decision to recommend Trustees’ Garden for the coin started in the summer of 2018 during Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration.
“There were a couple exchanges of ideas around agriculture, transportation and criminal justice reform,” Hall said. “But the one they thought really fit in terms of innovation was Trustees’ Garden in Savannah as the first experiment station/garden in the country that allowed Georgia to become a leader in agricultural innovation. There are a lot of other things in Georgia that could have met the criteria, but Gov. Deal’s office thought Trustees Garden fit the spirit of what the Mint was looking for most closely.”
Once he took office, Gov. Kemp sent a letter to the Mint supporting the choice of Trustees’ Garden for the coin and the final design, as well, Hall said.
Design of the coin
“The Mint works with a team of artists who develop a portfolio of designs for the coin,” White said. “These designs are reviewed by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and for this program, the governor’s offices, and all three make design recommendations. These design recommendations are shared with the Secretary of the Treasury, who makes the final design selection.”
The Trustees’ Garden part of the coin was designed by Emily Damstra, a freelance illustrator who creates zoological, botanical, anthropological, ecological and paleontological illustrations. She has designed three coins for the U.S. Mint, more than a dozen coins for the Royal Canadian Mint and a few postage stamps for the United Nations Postal Administration.
The coin’s design depicts a hand planting seeds in the inscription “TRUSTEES’ GARDEN,” from which grows a variety of species representing the variety of plants grown in the garden: an orange tree seedling, sassafras, grapes, white mulberry, flax, peaches, olive, and a young shoot that is too small to be identified.
The additional inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “GEORGIA.”
The other side features a dramatic representation of the Statue of Liberty in profile with the inscriptions “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “$1.” The side also includes a privy mark of a stylized gear, representing industry and innovation. “2019”, the mint mark, and the inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM” are engraved on the edge of the coin.
Production of the Georgia Trustees’ Garden coin is limited to 75,000 units. The Mint accepts coin orders at www.catalog.usmint.gov or by calling (800) 872-6468.
Jim Healy may be reached at (912) 489-9402.