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Looking Back At The 1992 "Nolan Ryan" Dollar

 
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 Posted 08/28/2012  6:35 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
A quick look back at a well-known modern US commemorative story from 20 years ago...


In 1992, for the first time, baseball became an official Olympic medal sport at the Barcelona Games; it had most recently been a demonstration sport in 1988 at the Seoul Games in Korea and an exhibition sport at the Los Angeles Games of 1984.

To develop the designs for the clad half-dollar, silver dollar and gold half-eagle of its commemorative program for the 1992 Olympic Games, The Treasury Department/US Mint held an open competition. John R. Deecken, a professional illustrator, delivered the winning design for the obverse of the silver dollar -- it depicted a baseball pitcher caught in the middle of his delivery to home plate.

The winning designs for the 1992 Olympic coins were publicly revealed in October 1991. At the time, it was said that the pitcher depicted on the silver dollar was simply a generic composite and not modeled after any specific individual. It was not long after, however, that similarities between the coin's depiction and a 1991 Nolan Ryan baseball card produced by Fleer were noted and published in the hobby press. The strong resemblance created a "nice" bit of controversy at the time. At issue was the apparent copying of the Fleer baseball card, as well as the fact that if it was, in fact, Nolan Ryan being depicted on the coin, the silver dollar was in violation of US law which made it illegal to show the likeness of a living person on a coin. The controversy has never truly been "resolved." While the Mint has continued to deny that the coin depicts Ryan, one look at the coin and card below makes it difficult to believe the 1991 card did not serve as the primary "inspiration" for the coin.

Of course, all collectors of classic US commemoratives are familiar with coins that depict a person that was alive at the time of release -- the 1921 Alabama, the 1926 American Independence Sesquicentennial, the 1936 Arkansas Centennial-Robinson and the 1936 Lynchburg Sesquicentennial half-dollars. The modern commemorative series has not been immune to the official use of a living person on a coin -- just three years after the 1992 silver dollar, a very alive Eunice Kennedy Shriver was depicted (and named) on the Special Olympics World Games commemorative silver dollar.

The 1992 silver dollar was available in Uncirculated (Denver Mint) and Proof (San Francisco Mint) versions, with a mintage of 15,607 for the Unc and 124,502 for the Proof.

Enjoy!


1992 Olympics Silver Dollar -- Obverse


(Image courtesy: http://www.usmint.gov)


1991 Fleer Corporation Baseball Card Featuring Nolan Ryan




Collecting history, one commemorative coin (or medal) at a time!
Original content (c) Commems, 2012-2018
Edited by commems
08/28/2012 7:26 pm
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Canada
138 Posts
 Posted 08/28/2012  6:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nscoinkid1997 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A really nice coin. I collect Olympic coins, so I might look for this at a future show.
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 Posted 08/28/2012  7:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A man after my own heart with this post. There are some slight differences with the design but the mint definitely got caught with the hand in the cookie jar on this one.

Great coin none the less, but who ever did the design must have been in a lazy mood that week. The Ryan express is as good a pitcher as any to use for it though, especially at that time
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 Posted 08/28/2012  8:44 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Appreciate your continued insights into these coins commems ...

Agreed that the Fleer card and the eventual USA mint commemorative bear some significance resemblance.

Thanks for another great post ... your knowledge sharing of the entire series is of tremendous benefit for all of us.

David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 08/28/2012  10:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add scotty11 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
"Circle-change" in the photo on the card...

They even copied the folds of the stirrups.

I haven't filled the hole in my 7070 for this coin yet. But I do think we may have a winner now!

Thanks for this post commems..
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 Posted 08/28/2012  10:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
After looking at the two a littler closer, it literally looks like they just traced the card. The folds in the uniform both the jersey and the pants are the exact same, even got the dark spot on the left thigh. All they changed was the face which I guess they thought was enough of a change
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 Posted 08/28/2012  10:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
On this one, the Mint appears to have been "guilty" of not doing enough vetting of the artwork they were provided by the independent artist who entered and won the design competition. (See OP.)

In hindsight, the Mint probably should have requested copies of the artist's source material and verified that the design was truly a composite of multiple pitchers as the artist claimed. However, if they did, in fact, receive source materials from the artist and did not notice/realize the similarity to the Ryan card -- it might have simply been a case of there being a few Nolan Ryan fans in the Mint's design/engraving department!

Collecting history, one commemorative coin (or medal) at a time!
Original content (c) Commems, 2012-2018
Pillar of the Community
United States
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 Posted 08/28/2012  11:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add scotty11 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
it might have simply been a case of there being a few Nolan Ryan fans in the Mint's design/engraving department!


I can't argue with this...^^^^


5714 strike-outs, 7 "no-no's", 4 decades in the game. The way I see it, Cy Young is probably the only person that has the right to complain about this coin imho.
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 Posted 08/29/2012  10:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice a potential baseball debate I like it.

The real travesty is that he wasn't featured in that beautiful old astros uniform on the coin
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 Posted 08/29/2012  11:52 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
"Circle-change" in the photo on the card...
Good catch! It is not the same pitch, so the coin image cannot be a copy of the card.
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 Posted 08/29/2012  4:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Kellyk to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have this coin and love it. Now knowing the history... It is even better. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
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 Posted 08/30/2012  8:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Captain Morgan to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the back ground on this coin.
I always thought it was modeled after Nolan Ryne.
Nice modern commem and one I own in the 2 coin set.
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 Posted 09/02/2012  2:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cc99999 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I would argue that the only controversy with this coin is that the artist essentially "traced" a photograph that was current and readily accessible to the public. Using living models as being emblematic of something else (like Liberty, or in this case a baseball player) is nothing new. Not to mention that living people have appeared on coins (Carter Glass immediately comes to mind, but he's not alone). As Nolan Ryan did not pitch in the 1992 Olympics, I give the coin a pass from a legal standpoint- but as far as the artist lazily cribbing someone else's work? Guilty.
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 Posted 09/02/2012  3:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CaptainFwiffo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It would have been a bigger giveaway if they had used Jim Abbot from the 1988 games.
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 Posted 09/02/2012  3:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add basebal21 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What would give it away the fact he only had one hand

Legally they probably did change just enough to get away with it changing the hat and the face a bit they could claim they just used the mechanics as a reference for accuracy.

I dont really mind it personally as I think the coin looks great. But as a baseball fan the first time I saw it before I had really gotten into coins I thought it was a Nolan Ryan Commemorative dollar.

The interesting part to me is why they picked Ryan. The artist must have been a fan. If they wanted picture perfect mechanics Greg Maddux would have been the obvious choice
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 Posted 09/02/2012  5:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fromms2244 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Greg Maddux the obvious choice? Wow I am impressed. You do know your baseball. I like it.
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