Quote: The 2003 First Flight Centennial commemorative coin program... John Mercanti was responsible for the design of the obverse of the clad half dollar.
Quote: 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.
Agreed. Typical coin size and relief are why I generally dislike people (plural) and other realistic scenes on coins, instead preferring designs using symbolism which relies less on depth perception.
However, thanks to you, I have come to appreciate seeing these more detailed designs on the larger high relief medals that have been shown here and there.
The 2004 Thomas Alva Edison silver dollar was issued to mark the 125th anniversary of Edison's invention of the light bulb (the first practical incandescent electric lamp).
I acknowledge that Edison didn't work in a vacuum (no pun intended) while developing his light bulb and that his, and his team's, work built on that of other scientists/engineers/inventors who came before him. That said, Edison did create the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb design and, along with his other work in the field, is undeniably a key figure in the growth and development of electric lighting and one worthy of commemoration on a US coin.
The Edison silver dollar is a modern US commemorative coin that was intended to benefit multiple organizations, each sharing equally in the surcharge funds collected. The organizations involved were:
- Port Huron, Michigan, Museum of Arts and History - the Edison Birthplace Association - the National Park Service - the Edison Plaza Museum - the Edison Winter Home and Museum - the Edison Institute - the Edison Memorial Tower, and - the Hall of Electrical History
That's a large number of beneficiaries - eight! - for a coin program that featured just a single coin - a silver dollar! With total sales of 303,205 units and a surcharge of $10 per coin - a 1/8th share of the surcharge funds pool amounted to ~$379,000.
Mercanti was responsible for the coin's reverse, which presents a stylized view of Edison's first light bulb with a glow surrounding it. The commemorative inscription "125th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIGHT BULB" semi-encircles the central design at the top, along the rim; the anniversary dates "1879" and "2004" flank the base of the bulb.
Mercanti's "JM" initials are seen to the right of the light bulb, just below the edge of the fourth "glow" ring (counting from center - i.e., nearest to bulb).
The coin's obverse is the work of Donna Weaver. It is based on a photograph that shows Edison in his lab, holding one of his early light bulbs.
Inside Front Cover of Coin Box from Thomas Edison Collector's Set
2004 Thomas Alva Edison Silver Dollar
And with this post, I believe I've highlighted all of the US commemorative coins in which Mercanti had a hand, either as the designer and sculptor/modeler or as the sculptor/modeler working from another artist's design. Over the past few months, I've presented 28 US commemorative coins and seven US State Quarters - 35 US coins! Next up, I plan on having a look at Mercanti's work within the US Platinum American Eagle coin series.
For more detailed information on the Edison coin and its design, have a look at:
Well, as soon as I think I'm done, the series pulls me back in!
I thought I had completed my look at John Mercanti's work with coins of the modern US commemorative series, but decided to take another look just to make sure. Of course, I soon came across one I had overlooked. It was a coin for which Mercanti served as the sculptor/modeler vs. the designer - the 1997-W Jackie Robinson gold half eagle.
The Jackie Robinson commemorative program consisted of a silver dollar and a gold half eagle. The coins were issued "in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the breaking of the color barrier in major league baseball by Jackie Robinson and the legacy that Jackie Robinson left to society." (Public Law 104-329)
Mercanti was engaged on the coin's reverse, transforming the design of James Peed into a model from which reverse dies could be made. The design is that of a baseball - with the "horseshoe" portion of its stitching presented - within which is the three-line inscription "1919-1972 / Legacy of / Courage." Jackie Robinson was born in 1919 and died in 1972.
The "JP" initials of James Peed and the "JM" initials of John Mercanti are found at the 4:30 clock position near the edge of the baseball.
The obverse of the coin presents a three-quarter, front-facing portrait of Jackie that depicts him in his later years, after his baseball career had completed and he had become more active in civil rights and politics. The design is the work of the US Mint designer/engraver William Cousins.
This coin is one of the few for which I purchased a proof and uncirculated example. After making my "standard" purchase of the uncirculated coin, I decided later to purchase one of the Jackie Robinson "Legacy Sets" when it became available. The Set includes a proof coin, plus a special edition Topps "Finest" Jackie Robinson baseball card (with US Treasury Seal), the 50th Anniversary patch worn by MLB players during the 1997 season and a lapel pin that replicates the patch in miniature.
I plan on continuing my close third review of the modern US commemorative series - who knows what other "Mercanti" commemorative coins I'll find that I missed during my first and second reviews?!
Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
OK, so I missed yet another Mercanti project in my previous review! Once again, it was a coin on which he created the models but not the design - this time out it's the obverse of the 1993 (1991-95) World War II 50th Anniversary half dollar.
The obverse design is dominated by a large "V" at the center. The "V" is depicted at an angle that extends away from the viewer; the "V" is meant to be symbolic of "Victory" by the US and Allies in the War. Stretching in front of the "V" are three members of the US military, at far left is depicted a female nurse, at center is a male sailor and at right is a helmeted male soldier. It appears the soldier is an Army Soldier vs. a Marine, due to the lack of camouflage cover on the helmet which was typical of Marine units beginning in 1942 after the invasion of Guadalcanal, but both services were issued the same core helmet so it could be a soldier from either. At the top of the design is seen a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber with five stars above it - the five-star rank was created in the US military in 1944 and first awarded in December.
The design is the work of George Klauba with Mercanti handling the sculpting-engraving. The initials of both are seen on the left collar of the soldier.
The coin's reverse presents a soldier defending his segment of an island beachhead. The design is by Bill J. Leftwich; it was sculpted-engraved by the US Mint's T. James Ferrell.
First, I proclaim that I've covered all of John Mercenti's modern commemorative coin projects and then I soon discover I've overlooked a group of coins that Mercanti worked on, albeit as the modeler of someone else's design. Curse you US Mint web site!
In 1992, the US Mint struck three coins to support the training of US Olympic team athletes for the 1992 Games in France and Spain (and Olympic competition in general). One was a gold half eagle, one was a silver dollar and one was a CuNi clad half dollar. Mercanti was involved with the model for the reverse of the half dollar.
The design of the reverse is fairly simple, it depicts the Olympic Torch to the right of center with an olive branch behind it; the horizontal branch has a slight upward (E-NE) tilt as it stretches across the coin. The Olympic Games motto (in Latin) "CITIUS / ALTIUS / FORTIUS" is presented on three lines above the branch and to the left of the torch. The motto translates into English as "Faster, Higher, Stronger." The motto was first proposed in 1894 and officially introduced in 1924 at the Paris Games - it has been part of the Games ever since. Just a few weeks ago, however, the motto was amended to read "Faster, Higher, Stronger -- Together."
The coin's reverse design was created by Steven M. Bieda and then modeled by John Mercanti. The initials of each are seen below the stem of the olive branch, near the bottom of the branch, on the left side of the coin.
An interesting side note: Bieda is not a professional artist/illustrator. He is a Michigan politician - and coin collector - who was elected to serve in the Michigan House of Representatives (2003-2009) and the Michigan Senate (2011-2019). In addition to the 1992 Olympic coin, he also designed the commemorative medal struck to honor Elijah E. Myers, architect of the Michigan Capitol; the medal was given out to visitors of the Michigan capitol in 2009.
Approximately $9.2 million was collected via surcharges to support the US Olympic Committee and its training objectives/programs.
The US launched its platinum bullion coin program in 1997. In addition to coins with a circulation/bullion strike, the US Mint also produced proof versions for collectors. When the program was launched, fractional versions of the one-ounce flagship coin were produced (half-ounce, quarter-ounce and tenth-ounce).
I remember being excited by the prospect of the new coins upon hearing the news of their pending release. The proof coins went on sale on June 6, 1997, but I didn't immediately make a purchase. I also recall, in August or September, my dad asking me if there was anything special I would like as a Christmas present that year, and, with some hesitation, I told him about the new platinum coins and how I was planning on purchasing the one-quarter ounce size (my plan was to only get the first-year-of issue release and I felt the quarter-ounce size was a good blend of size to properly present the design and acquisition cost).
The quarter-ounce proof coin had an issue price of $199 USD. As I did not typically ask for gifts at such a price point, I was somewhat reluctant to mention it to him but he was persistent. He went ahead and purchased one for me, but was unable to give it to me at Christmas as he died unexpectedly in October. I found the coin while taking care of matters for his estate and decided, as a small tribute to him, to collect the proof quarter-ounce version of each subsequent Platinum Eagle issue. (Unfortunately for me, the US Mint dropped the fractional proof APEs after the 2008 issue, so my proof platinum collection ended in 2008 with 12 coins.}
For the first year of issue, John Mercanti designed/engraved the bold close-up view of Liberty's face as seen on the Statue of Liberty (aka, "Liberty Enlightening the World"). The design was used as the obverse for the proof Platinum Eagle series through 2017. Beginning in 2018, Mercanti's design was replaced on an annual basis - each year's design related to the new theme of the proof coin. The design continues, however, to be used for the bullion version of the coin (at least for now!).
Mercanti's "JM" initials can be seen just above Liberty's shoulder at roughly the nine o'clock position.
The soaring eagle with the radiating sun in the background seen on the reverse was designed by Thomas D. Rogers. The design was used only in 1997 (on the proof APEs), It was replaced on proof Platinum Eagle coins on an annual basis beginning in 1998 - each year related to the new theme of the proof coin. As with Mercanti's obverse design, Rogers' reverse design continues to be used for the bullion version of the APE.
In 1998, the US Mint launched a five-year program for the proof American Platinum Eagle (APE) coins - it was called the "Vistas of Liberty" series. Each year, the reverse of the coin featured a bald eagle in a different region of the US.
At the time of the first coin's release, Mint Director Philip N. Diehl stated: "The Vistas of Liberty" designs will profile the unique character and charisma of our Nation's diverse landscapes, capturing the spirit and strength of America and its people."
For the 1998 coin, an eagle is depicted flying - with wings up - off the coast of New England (at right), with a lighthouse rising up on the cliff (at left) and the moon rising in the evening sky in the background. John Mercanti designed/engraved the new reverse; it was paired with his "Portrait of Liberty" obverse design from 1997.
In an interesting twist, three of the coin's inscriptions are presented as incuse elements - i.e., sunk below the surface of the coin vs. raised in relief. This can be seen on the obverse via "E PLURIBUS UNUM' which is sunk into the gown of Liberty on her raised arm (at the rim), and on the reverse with the coin's fineness and weight sunk into the cliff and its denomination sunk below the surface of the sea.
Mercanti's "JM" initials can be seen on the obverse just above Liberty's shoulder at roughly the nine o'clock position.
The proof coins were launched on June 5 and only available until December 31, 1998 (or until sold out). The fractional weights all sold out prior to December 31, 1998, with the one-ounce coin coming very close with about 4,900 of its authorized 5,000 sold.
1998 American Platinum Eagle (APE) - Proof: Vistas of Liberty - New England
The "Vistas of Liberty" series continued on the proof American Platinum Eagle (APE) coins in 1999, with a reverse scene from the wetlands of the southeastern US. John Mercanti once again was the designer of the obverse and reverse sides of the coin.
The reverse scene presents a bald eagle at its center, flying through a swamp scene. Moss is shown hanging from trees (bald cypress or Taxodium distichum for those with a more scientific bent) at right, swamp black-gum tupelo (Nyssa biflora) at left, bushes and duckweed are seen along the water line and an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), is seen coming out of the water at the lower left. (Per the US Mint, it is definitely an American alligator vs. a crocodile.)
The fineness, weight and denomination inscriptions that were presented in incuse style on the 1998 proof APE coin returned to being presented in relief in 1999. "UNITED" (part of the "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" inscription is sunk into the branches of the tupelo tree, however.
Mercanti's "Portrait of Liberty" is once again seen on the obverse. His "JM" initials are found on the obverse just above Liberty's shoulder at roughly the nine o'clock position.
The 1999 proof APE was the last of the series to include a new reverse design by Mercanti; his "Portrait of Liberty" design would continue on the obverse of the proof coins through 2017.
1999 American Platinum Eagle (APE) - Proof: Vistas of Liberty - Southeast
I'm surprised that an American Silver Eagle (ASE) has not yet been posted in this thread as it features what is likely the most famous John Mercanti design. So...
John Mercanti is responsible for the reverse of the 1986-2021 ASEs (Type I) - bullion, proof and burnished/uncirculated strikes. The design presents a heraldic eagle with a ribbon bearing "E PLURIBUS UNUM" being held in its beak. On the eagle's breast is a starless US Shield, while a constellation of 13 stars representing the 13 original states is depicted in the field above the eagle. The design is a modern reinterpretation of the Great Seal of the United States.
Mercanti's "JM" initials on the reverse of the ASE are found just below the eagle's left talon (holding the arrows).
The coin's obverse is a re-use of Adolph A. Weinman's Walking Liberty design that adorned the obverse of the US half dollar coin from 1916 though 1947. The classic design is regularly listed as one of the US' most beautiful coin designs and is a very popular coin among collectors. The ASE has certainly followed suit in popularity!
2019 American Silver Eagle (ASE) - Bullion Strike
Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
In 1994, the US Mint struck a three-coin program in support of World Cup USA 1994, Inc. and its hosting of the 1994 World Cup. The 15th Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup championship was hosted in the United States for the first time in 1994; it is the only time the event has thus far been hosted in the US.
John Mercanti served as the modeler for the obverse of the coin; it was designed by Richard T. LaRoche. The design presents a male soccer player in motion, about to kick the ball further down the pitch/field. He is flanked by large "19" and "94" figures representing the tournament's and coin's date. LaRoche's "RTL" and Mercanti's "JM" initials are both found at the rim, just below the player's planted left foot.
1994 World Cup Half Dollar - Obverse
1994 World Cup Coins - Common Reverse (Illustrated with Silver Dollar)
The coin's reverse, common to all three coins of the program, presents the official logo of the 1994 World Cup framed by laurel branches. The design for the coin was prepared by Dean McMullen; the core logo was created by Michael Geircke and James Anderson of Pentagram, a design firm with offices in London (England), New York City, Austin (Texas), and Berlin (Germany).
1994 World Cup Logo in Color
(Image Credit: World Cup USA 1994, Inc. / Pantagram. Fair use.)
The logo is strongly influenced by the US Flag. It consists of waving white and red stripes with a blue-paneled soccer ball in the upper left; diagonal blue lines trail behind the ball and give it a sense of motion.
The half dollar was packaged by the Mint in multiple ways, including as part of sets themed for each of the nine host cities in the US, in a Young Collectors Set, in a Striker (the official mascot) Set and a special Collectors Set; See below for posts I've made about some of these options, plus the official philatelic-numismatic covers (PNCs).