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Post Your Coins And Medals With A Design By John Mercanti

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 Posted 07/22/2021  08:53 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Moving on from Mercanti's coin designs for the Atlanta Centennial Olympics, my next look focuses on what I consider to be one of the more attractive designs of the modern US series - the silver dollar for the 1996 Smithsonian Institution 150th Anniversary.

The obverse of the coin features a well-executed depiction of the Smithsonian Castle, the first building of the Smithsonian Institution (SI). (It's hard to imagine that the SI's collection once fit in a single building!) The US Mint's Thomas D. Rogers designed and modeled the attractive design. (Having an architectural beauty to start with always helps!)

The coin's reverse, by John Mercanti, is an allegorical depiction of a classical female figure holding the Torch of Knowledge in her raised left hand and a scroll featuring "ART / HISTORY / SCIENCE" written on it in her right. The figure is depicted floating above the earth with the North Atlantic Ocean at the center and the North American, European and African continents visible. The figure is not identified as representing a specific ancient mythological goddess, though Athena is a potential source reference; Athena is the Greek goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom. Minerva, the Roman counterpart of Athena, is also a possibility.

Side Note: The Torch of Knowledge is mounted atop the dome of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. It appears on the 2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial coins.

The Torch of Knowledge is likely traced back to the Greek Titan/god Prometheus who captured fire from the sun. gave it to humanity and taught man how to use it - it was intended to inspire and bring light and knowledge to all. Prometheus defied the will of Zeus with such actions which led to him being shackled to a mountain and tortured by an eagle. The name Prometheus is derived from the Greek prefix pro- which means "before," and the verb manthano ("to learn or understand"). Because of this, Prometheus is sometimes referred to as the god of Forethought.

1996 Smithsonian Institution 150th Anniversary Silver Dollar



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 Posted 07/24/2021  08:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots commemorative silver dollar was authorized to recognize "Black Revolutionary War patriots and the 275th anniversary of the birth of the first Black Revolutionary War patriot, Crispus Attucks, who was the first American colonist killed by British troops during the Revolutionary period..."

Surcharges collected from sales of the coin were to be given to the Black Revolutionary War Patriots Foundation for the "purpose of establishing an endowment to support the construction of a Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial" in Washington, DC. (Public Law 104-329) Unfortunately, the Memorial was never built and the Foundation disbanded after receiving (and spending) ~$1 million in surcharge funds. (See the link below for a discussion.)

The possibility of the Memorial being constructed is not dead, however. A new effort was initiated by Congress in 2012 when it authorized the National Liberty Memorial and designated the National Mall Liberty Fund D.C. as the group in charge of making it happen. The new Memorial appears to be the original Memorial under a new name and coordinator. Only time will tell if it will come to fruition - one bad sign is the fact that the Liberty Fund's web site has not had any updates in several years!

The coin's obverse presents a three-quarters, right-facing portrait of Crispus Attucks; it was designed by John Mercanti. His "JM" initials are found at the 7:30 clock position, incused on Attucks' right shoulder. Its reverse depicts the planned Memorial statue (in a similar vein to the US 1936 Elgin, IL Centennial half dollar); the reverse design is the work of Ed Dwight, the sculptor of the statue. The Mint's Thomas D. Rogers was responsible for the reverse's modeling.

Idealized Portrait of Crispus Attucks (Potential Reference Source for Coin, presented as Mirror Image of Original)

(Image Credit: The New York Public Library, Digitsl Collections, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org...e00a18064a99. Public Domain.)


1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar

(Image Credit: Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts, http://www.PCGS.com.

Attucks was a man of mixed African American (father) and Native American (mother) ancestry who was born into slavery but escaped at around the age of 27. He made his way to Boston, where he found work as a sailor on whaling ships. When not at sea, it is believed that Attucks was employed as a rope maker.

On March 5, 1770, Attucks was among a group of colonists who were fired upon by British soldiers after the colonists had harassed and antagonized them; he was ~47 years old at the time.

Accounts of the event, historically called the "Boston Massacre," vary in their specific details, but all (or nearly all) accounts agree that Attucks was the first of the group to be shot/killed by the British. In all, five colonists were killed; the others who died were: Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell and Patrick Car - Attucks was the only black man among those who were killed.

It is estimated that over 5,000 African American men fought with the colonists against the British during the Revolutionary War as either soldiers or sailors; many of the enslaved who signed on did so with the understanding that they would be freed after the War. These Black Patriots took part in every major battle of the Revolution, including the War's last major battle at Yorktown. Though the stories of most of these patriots have been lost to time, several distinguished themselves enough to be individually remembered by history. These include Salem Poor, Colonel Tye, Peter Salem, James Armistead and the First Rhode Island Regiment (an integrated unit in the Continental Army). To learn more about Crispus Attucks and these other fighting patriots, check out this informative article on History.com: 7 Black Heroes of the American Revolution.

Interesting Side Note: Some historians estimate that up to 20,000 African Americans joined the fight on the British side, believing they had a better chance at freedom with such an allegiance.


For more about the Black Patriots Memorial failure, see:

- 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar - A Memorial Never Built


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 Posted 07/25/2021  08:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Mercanti was actively engaged in the design of each of the two coins of the 2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial commemorative coin program. For the silver dollar, he developed the reverse design, for the bi-metallic gold and platinum coin he developed the obverse. On the silver dollar, his "JM" initial can be seen to the left of the dome, on the $10 coin they are at the 8 o'clock position near the edge of the inner platinum core.

Thomas D. Rogers, Sr. prepared the designs and created the models for the other side of each coin.

Each of the designs includes a depiction of the "Torch of Knowledge" (discussed above in my post about the Smithsonian Institution's 150th Anniversary silver dollar).

Below is a link to my previous post about the two Library of Congress Coins; here I'll just post images of the coins in my collection.

2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial Silver Dollar


2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial Bi-Metallic Gold and Platinum $10



Description of 2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial coins:

- 2000 Library of Congress Coins


For more posts about commemorative coins and medals, check out: Read More: Commems Collection.



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 Posted 07/26/2021  09:29 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
An excellent pair! Thank you for sharing them along with your usual background knowledge.
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 Posted 07/26/2021  5:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The US Mint's 2000 Leif Ericson Millennium silver dollar was part of a joint commemorative issue with Iceland. The coins were struck "in commemoration of the millennium of the discovery of the New World by Leif Ericson." (Public Law 106-126)

During the Senate's consideration of the coin bill, Senator Thomas Richard Harkin (D-IA) stated, "The famous Viking explorer is regarded as the first European to set foot on North American soil in the year 1000 AD. In a time of sea voyages and land exploration, perhaps the most recognized Viking in history is Leif Ericson. Ericson's determination, nobility and spirit of exploration are demonstrated in his Voyage of Discovery."

Mercanti was responsible for the obverse design and modeling. The design presents a right-facing portrait of a helmeted Ericson. Mercanti created the portrait, as well as the coin's rim border and letter style, with an eye toward Icelandic historical style - it has an "Old Iceland" look and feel. The typeface continues on to the reverse, where it frames a less stylized, more modern/realism-style depiction of a circa 1000 AD Viking long ship. The reverse was designed/modeled by the US Mint's Thomas James Ferrell.

Mercanti's "JM" initials can be found on the obverse to the left of the Viking's neck.

2000 US Leif Ericson Silver Dollar

(Image Credit: Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts, http://www.PCGS.com.

The obverse and reverse designs for the Iceland coin were were created by an Icelandic artist - Thorstur Magnusson. The US Mint, however, modeled and struck the coin. The obverse was modeled by Thomas James Ferrell; John Mercanti modeled the reverse. Mercanti's "JM" initials can be seen at the 4 o'clock position at the edge of the inner design area.

The last time, prior to the Ericson coin, that the US Mint struck a coin for a foreign nation was FY 1984 when it struck multiple-denominations of 1983-dated coins for Panama.

2000 Iceland 1000 Krónur

(Image Credit: Image courtesy of US Mint, http://www.usmint.gov.


Each country's coin was available individually and as part of a two-piece set. The US coin was available in proof and uncirculated; the Iceland coin was struck only as a proof. The two-piece set included a proof coin from each country.

The coins were struck to support a student exchange program between the US and Iceland; the exchange/fellowship program is managed by The Leifur Eiríksson Foundation at the University of Virginia. Board members for the Foundation come from the Central bank of Iceland, the Government of Iceland and the University of Virginia.

The US coin's non-typical design has made it popular among collectors - I know it's one of my favorites and I'm happy to have an uncirculated version plus a two-piece proof set in my collection!.


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Edited by commems
07/26/2021 5:20 pm
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 Posted 07/27/2021  09:06 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The 2001 US Capitol Visitor Center coins were issued to commemorate the holding of the first session of the US Congress in the new Capitol building. The 6th US Congress convened for its 2nd Session on November 17, 1800. The 2nd Session opened in the new building in Washington DC, thus making the 6th the first Congress to convene in the new Capitol.

The commemorative coin program included a gold $5 coin (half eagle), a silver dollar and a CuNi clad half dollar. Each coin was available in Proof and Uncirculated; the gold coins were struck at West Point, the silver dollars and half dollar options were struck in Philadelphia. The coins went on sale on February 28, 2001.

Each coin had a surcharge included in its retail price, with surcharges collected meant to aid with the construction, maintenance and preservation of a Capitol Visitor Center.

The Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) is comprised of two public levels and a private third level, located below the East Capitol Grounds. (By being constructed below ground, the Visitor Center does not detract from, or interfere with, the beauty of the Capitol Building.) The CVC includes approximately 580,000 square feet of space which is roughly three-quarters of the size of the Capitol (775,000 square feet). Though initial design and planning began in the mid 1970s, its groundbreaking was in June 2000 and actual construction on the CVC began in 2002. It received its Certificate of Occupancy in July 2008.

The CVC includes Emancipation Hall (home to two dozen statues donated by the various states), an Exhibition Hall, two theaters, two gift shops, a cafe, first aid stations, security areas and office space for the House and Senate. It is the starting point for anyone wishing to visit the US Capitol.

John Mercanti was specifically involved with creating and modeling the design for the reverse of the silver dollar.

Mercanti's design presents a US Bald Eagle in heraldic pose with outstretched wings and a shield on its breast. As is the norm, the eagle is depicted with arrows in its left talon (representing strength, willingness to fight/defend) and an olive branch in its right talon (desire for peace). A series of rays arranged in a circle from approximately the 7 o'clock to 5 o'clock position nearly encircle the eagle. A ribbon wraps around the eagle and carries the inscription "U.S. CAPITOL VISITORS CENTER" in front.

Mercanti's "JM" initials are found to the right (viewer's perspective) of the eagle's left talon, below the "R" in "VISITOR" on the ribbon.

A close look at the shield over the eagle reveals 16 stars vs. the typical 13 for the original colonies/states. In 1800, when Congress first occupied the Capitol, the Union consisted of 16 states - Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee had been added since Rhode Island ratified the US Constitution on May 29, 1790 to become the last of the original 13 to be admitted to the Union.

The coin's obverse was designed by Marika Somogyi. Ms. Somogyi was one of 12 outside artists that submitted potential design(s) for the Visitor Center coin(s). Somogyi's obverse presents a "then and now" scene, with the original Capitol in the foreground and the circa-2000 Capitol building behind it. Somogyi's initials appear immediately below the left-front corner of the original Capitol; as Mercanti modeled Somogyi's design, his initials appear as well, they are seen just to the right of the right-rear corner of the building. I've always felt the design is a bit jarring; its doesn't appear "well-blended" to my eyes.

2001 Capitol Visitor Center Silver Dollar

(Image Credit: Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts, http://www.PCGS.com.)


For other posts about commemorative coins and medals, classic and modern, check out: Read More: Commems Collection.


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 Posted 07/28/2021  07:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The 2002 Olympic Winter Games commemorative program included a gold half eagle ($5.00) and a silver dollar. The two coins were issued to support the Winter Olympic Games to be held in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Surcharges collected from sales of the coins were split 50/50 between the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Winter Games of 2002 and the United States Olympic Committee.

The designs used for the 2002 Winter Olympics coins, to me, are among the most unappealing of the modern series. They are flat, lacking in detail and don't convey a strong message about the Winter Olympic Games. Snow/snow flakes and a city skyline don't convey much about the Winter Olympics to me. The Games are about the athletes, not the location of the Games. Designs that featured athletes, though certainly done before, would have been far more preferable to my eyes.

That said, John Mercanti was involved with the design and modeling of the obverse of the program's silver dollar. The primary design device is the Crystal Emblem of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games (shown below), with the textured, jagged-edged shape behind it that is meant to represent the Games' "Rhythm of the Land" identity mark. The Olympic Rings are presented at the bottom of the design. Having previously seen plenty of examples of Mercanti's skills, I'm guessing he was working under strict limitations/guidelines put in place by the Salt Lake Olympics organization and that is the reason for the nondescript outcome (IMO)

Crystal Emblem Logo of 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games


The Crystal Emblem is comprised of three segments meant to symbolize (from bottom to top) Contrast (Utah's mountains vs. its deserts), Culture (Utah's history of Native American and pioneer cultures) and Courage (the courage of Olympic athletes). The colors used were selected to represent (from bottom to top) mountain shadows, sunset hues and the Olympic Flame. The "Rhythm of the Land" mark is meant to symbolize "Utah's sweeping desert and majestic mountains." (Salt Lake 2002 Sponsor Presence Program)

Mercanti's "JM" initials are seen at approximately the 7:30 clock position near the rim.

The coin's reverse depicts a near-featureless Salt Lake City skyline with a stylized rendering of the Rocky Mountains behind it. The jagged lines of the "Rhythm of the Land" mark are seen again, this time across the top of the design. The design was created by Donna Weaver. an artist from the Mint's Artistic Infusion Program.

2002 Winter Olympic Winter Games Silver Dollar



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 Posted 07/29/2021  07:47 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
John Mercanti was involved with the reverse of 2002 US silver dollar struck to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, NY. The USMA is a four-year Federal academy with the mission of educating and developing post-high school students into men and women who are committed to the values of Duty, Honor and Country and positioning them to serve as commissioned officers in the US Army.

The design on the reverse presents the Bicentennial logo of the USMA. At the center of the design, within a ring, is the Athena Helmet "an emblem that consist[s] of a sword, a universal symbol of war, and the helmet of Pallas Athena. Athena, a fully armed mythological goddess, is associated with the arts of war, and her helmet signifies wisdom and learning." (USMA Fact Sheet) The design's bicentennial inscriptions encircle the helmet logo with "1802 WEST POINT 2002" at the top and "BICENTENNIAL" at the bottom; the two inscription elements are separated by two five-pointed stars, one on each side.

The Athena Helmet depicted is part of the overall Coat of Arms of the USMA; the Coat dates to the late 1890s/early 1900s. In the full Coat of Arms, "The emblem is attached to a shield, bearing the arms of the United States, and on the shield's crest is a bald eagle, the national symbol. The eagle's claws hold 13 arrows representing the 13 original states and oak and olive branches, traditional symbols of peace." (USMA Fact Sheet)

Full Coat of Arms of the United States Military Academy

(Image Credit: United States Military Academy. Public Domain.)

Mercanti did not create an original design for the reverse of the coin, he was given USMA Bicentennial models to work from and developed the final models used to create the coinage dies. Mercanti's "JM" initials can be seen below the helmet, at the right, under the front edge of the sword.

The coin's obverse presents a cadet color guard in parade with the Military Academy's Washington Hall and Cadet Chapel in the background. The design is the work of US Mint Sculptor-Engraver T. James Ferrell.

2002 United States Military Academy Bicentennial Silver Dollar



For a brief post about the coin and an image related to the USMA coin's obverse design, check out:

- 2002 USMA Bicentennial in Coins Depcting Places Thread




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 Posted 07/29/2021  08:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have to wonder how much more the obverse would 'pop' if it had higher relief. That being said, I find the reverse more more appealing since I appreciate symbolism.

Thank you for sharing!
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 Posted 07/30/2021  06:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The 2003 First Flight Centennial commemorative coin program consisted of a gold eagle ($10), a silver dollar and a CuNi clad half dollar. John Mercanti was responsible for the design of the obverse of the clad half dollar.

The enacting legislation for the coin program required that each coin have a design "emblematic of the first flight of Orville and Wilbur Wright in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903." (Public Law 105-124).

Mercanti chose to depict the Wright Brothers National Monument that stands in Kill Devil Hills, NC for the reverse of the half dollar. The monument was constructed on top of Big Kill Devil Hill; ground was broken for the monument in 1928 and it was dedicated on November 19, 1932. Orville attended the cornerstone ceremony for the monument in 1928 and its dedication in 1932; Wilbur died in 1912 and thus was never aware of the monument's construction.

Wright Brothers Monument - Front View


Wright Brothers Monument - Side View

(Image Credit: Both images courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/photos/)

The Art Deco style, triangle- or wedge-shaped monument is 60 feet tall and sits on top of the 90-foot-tall Kill Devil Hill; it is made of North Carolina granite. At an overall height of 150 feet above sea level, the top of the monument is among the tallest overall points on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Circling the monument at its base (just above its doors) is the inscription, "In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. Conceived by genius. Achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith."

The obverse of the coin presents the Wright 1903 Flyer - with Orville on board - making the historic first flight; Wilbur is seen standing on the ground below. US Mint sculptor Donna Weaver created the design. The design is often referred to as a rendering of the famous "first flight" photograph taken by John Daniels. That photograph, however, was taken from behind with the Flyer moving away from the viewer, the coin's image shows the plane heading toward the viewer with Wilbur on the opposite side of where he actually was standing/running during the first flight.

Wright Brothers First Flight Photograph

(Image Credit: Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, http://www.loc.gov/photos/)


2003 First Flight Centennial Half Dollar

(Image Credit: Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts, http://www.PCGS.com.)




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 Posted 07/30/2021  07:03 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I have to wonder how much more the obverse would 'pop' if it had higher relief. That being said, I find the reverse more more appealing since I appreciate symbolism.

It would certainly be interesting to see - having the cadets be more pronounced in the foreground would be a good upgrade. I think photo-realism on coins always has difficulty being effective due to a coin's smaller size.

I too appreciate the effective use of allegory and symbolism on coins.


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