Thomas J. Uram, a 30-year financial services industry veteran and coin collector for the past 50 years, recently ended his second term on the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee in the position that is recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. His tenure began in 2012 and included two years serving as chairman of this important group that reviews the designs that appear on all U.S. coins, including circulating, bullion, commemorative coins, and congressional gold medals.
His second term on the committee formally ended on January 28. His successor is Dr. Harcourt Fuller, a historian of Africa who teaches at Georgia State University.
The CCAC, which was created by a 2003 law, makes recommendations for the designs that are sent to the Secretary of the Treasury. The committee is also allowed to make a limited number of proposals each year on the themes of commemorative coin programs, which are included in the group’s annual reports, and serves as an informed and impartial resource to the Secretary that represents the interests of the American people and coin collectors.
Tom, who started collecting Lincoln cents in 1971, first joined the ANA in 1974 and two years later became a life member. He has long been a major hobby leader having served for the past decade as president of one of the most important state-based coin clubs, the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists that holds three major coin shows a year; is a former member of the ANA’s Board of Governors (2017-2019); and is also active in many other numismatic groups and associations. In 2018 he also ran but lost in a bid to become ANA vice president.
Highlights of CCAC Work
Throughout his extended term on the committee, he demonstrated the importance of having a lifelong coin collector on the group that plays such an important role in the process of creating U.S. coins.
And Tom has been especially active on the committee being personally responsible (along with fellow CCAC member and numismatic researcher and award-winning author Michael Moran) for coming up with the idea and then working to ensure passage of congressional legislation that authorized the 2021 Morgan and Peace dollar coin program, which marks the centennial since the issuance of the final Morgan and first Peace dollar in 1921 and is now expected to become an ongoing U.S. Mint series.
He also played an important role in the 2019 Apollo 11 50th anniversary commemorative program, including serving on the panel of judges who selected the obverse design by Gary Cooper that won the design competition. That coin program was the brainchild of another former CCAC member, Michael Olson. The five-ounce silver Proof Apollo coin was named 2021 Coin of the Year.
His initial CCAC appointment was recommended by former House Speaker John Boehner, and in December 2018 Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin appointed Tom to serve as chairman of the CCAC. He is also an award-winning exhibitor of coins at numerous regional and national shows and has also frequently served as an ANA-certified judge for exhibits for which he was first certified in 2011.
During his years on the CCAC, Tom worked to bring a greater awareness of numismatics and of the interests of coin collectors to Mint officials such as by sharing with them issues of prominent coin publications or bringing to their attention issues of importance to collectors such as lowering the household order limit for high-demand Mint products.
He also instituted a practice of holding dinners with his fellow committee members usually the night prior to a meeting at the Mint’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., which sometimes also included members of the numismatic media or researchers like Roger Burdette and Wayne Homren, editor of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s popular weekly publication, The E-Sylum, and some of its members. Other times members of congress involved in coinage were invited to the dinners so they and the members of the committee could get to know each other better.
Commemorative Coin Proposals
Towards the end of his second term, Tom created a subgroup within the CCAC to make recommendations on commemorative coinage.
On January 27, Tom sent a letter on behalf of the CCAC to key members of congress involved in the coinage process and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with several commemorative coin recommendations for the coming years. Those included a 2028 Summer Olympic program for the games to be held in Los Angeles, which received a unanimous recommendation from the committee; a coin to honor the Semiquencentennial of the Declaration of Independence to be issued either in 2026, or in one of the three years leading up to this event, which is separate from the planned one-year redesign of all circulating coins for the national Semiquincentennial in 2026; and national medal to posthumously recognize the bravery and sacrifice of the signers of the Declaration of Independence that could be issued as a congressional gold medal if authorized by Congress. Those medals are issued in bronze for collectors.
His subgroup also developed a recommendation for a possible horseracing commemorative either about the Kentucky Derby or Churchill Downs. 2022 will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Kentucky Derby’s history — the longest-running sporting event in the U.S. That year the grandson of one of the derby’s two founders went to Europe and was inspired by horseraces in England and France.
If the program is authorized by Congress, surcharges from the sale of coins would go towards various charities for jockeys with disabilities, others that work to protect racehorses, etc. Horses are a popular theme on U.S. coinage as seen in the recent sellout of 2021-W American Liberty gold coin with a bucking bronco that sold out of its 12,000-coin mintage quickly.
Tom has also written about coins, including articles in The Numismatist — the ANA’s monthly magazine — on Maundy coins, curved world coins, and other issues as well as pieces in The Clarion, PAN’s bimonthly magazine, such as a 2019 article on how the Apollo 11 commemoratives were created.
In the earlier years of his collecting experience, Tom focused mainly on American coins, but in more recent years he has developed a strong interest in medals and in world coins. His award-winning exhibits have covered each of those areas of numismatics. In 2019, I interviewed Tom about his journey as a collector.
In 2015, when Pope Francis visited the U.S., Tom and PAN developed a medal program to commemorate the historic papal visit that include 1.75-inch bronze medals and three-inch silver with gold plating medals that he designed and which were sculpted by Donald Everhart, who served at the U.S. Mint from 2004 to 2017 as a sculptor-engraver and designed and sculpted over 100 U.S. coins and medals.
During his tenure on the CCAC, Tom clearly had a significant impact shaping American coins and medals, especially by helping to create some of the most popular and successful coin programs of recent years, and his colleagues on the committee and at the U.S. Mint will undoubtedly miss him and his collegial style of leadership.
Dennis Tucker, his fellow committee member for much of his term and the publisher at Whitman Publishing, noted of Tom’s service:
The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee without Tom is going to feel very different indeed!
You’ve always brought a calm, contemplative, and broadly experienced perspective to our proceedings. You’ve studied the art with thoughtful judgement and kept a real-world focus on the needs and wants of active collectors — all with constant good humor.