Tag Archive: Designer


John Flanagan

John Flanagan (1865-1952) of New York was a medalist who also studied under St. Gaudens. He produced several medals and sculptures. His most famous work is the Washington Quarter first produced in 1932 to commemorate the 200’th anniversary of George Washington’s birth.

The choice of Flanagan’s design was controversial because the Commission of Fine Arts and the Washington Bicentennial Commission chose Laura Frasier’s design as being far superior to all the 100 entries in a competition. Super rich financier and Treasury Secretary Andrew Melon pushed through his choice and America had a new quarter in 1932. It is said Melon’s choice was made not for artistic reasons but because he was a male chauvinist.

Astute readers may recognize the name Frasier in the context of coin design. Laura Gardin Frasier was the wife James Earle Frasier who designed of the Buffalo Nickel. A more recent Commission of Fine Arts chose Laura Frasier artistic design to grace the 1999 $5 Gold coin that commemorates the 200’th anniversary of Washington’s death.

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Adolph Alexander Weinman

The future creator of the Winged Head Liberty Dime and the Walking Liberty Half Dollar was born December 11, 1870 to Gustave Weingaertner, a shoemaker, and his wife Katharina.1 He left his native Karlsruhe, Germany in 1880 at the age of ten to live in America with a relative in the grocery trade. Some time after his arrival in the United States, he simplified his name to Weinman, a practice continued by his descendants.

Adolph Alexander Weinman by Anthony De Francisci

A precocious talent for drawing and modeling in clay led the 15-year-old Weinman to an apprenticeship with Frederick Kaldenberg. This indenture was for five years, during which time he carved utilitarian objects such as mirror frames and smoking pipes out of wood and ivory. Although he no doubt sought the life of an artist rather than an artisan, young Weinman dutifully fulfilled his obligation to Kaldenberg. One year into his training, however, he enrolled in New York City’s legendary Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. There, and at the Art Students League, he studied drawing. Upon leaving Kaldenberg’s workshop at age 20, he joined the studio of medallist Philip Martiny.2 With this initial exposure to the medallic art, Weinman was inspired to make this his life’s work.

His reputation under Martiny was evidently enough to secure for him the position of assistant director in the studio of Olin H. Warner. The year was 1895, and the sculptor was then just 25. Warner’s premature death less than a year later prompted another move to the studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The Dublin-born Saint-Gaudens was just then achieving the status of America’s pre-eminent sculptor, and this step in Weinman’s career was a prestigious one. It too was cut short, however, with the elder artist’s decision to remove himself to Paris in 1898. Returning just a few years later, Saint-Gaudens would ultimately design the United States eagle and double eagle of 1907. Sadly, he would not live to see his work coined, nor would he bear witness to his disciple’s rendering of the dime and half dollar in 1916.

Following Saint-Gaudens’ departure for France, Weinman joined the studio of Charles H. Neihaus for five years. Neihaus was likewise an accomplished medallist, though not of the stature of Saint-Gaudens. Having paid his dues as student and assistant to others, Adolph A. Weinman went into partnership with Daniel Chester French, another sculptor of renown. French would later go on to have several connections to United States coinage, most of them indirect. In addition to serving on the Commission of Fine Arts, which oversaw the selection of coin designs, adaptations of his work appear on two USA coins. His seated figure of Abraham Lincoln for Washington’s Lincoln Memorial appears in extreme miniature on the reverse of the cents coined since 1959. The half dollar commemorating the sesquicentennial of the battles of Lexington and Concord features his portrayal of the Continental Minuteman. Both coins were executed by other sculptors.

Weinman’s partnership with French came to an end after some two years, at which time he resolved to open his own studio. Among his first commissions was the award medal for participants in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held at St. Louis in 1904. The many examples of this medal were coined at the Philadelphia Mint, and the reverse of his design is somewhat suggestive of his later reverse for the half dollar. It’s not known whether Weinman’s efforts ran afoul of the Mint’s defensive Chief Engraver, Charles E. Barber, but he was no doubt treading on safer ground in the field of medals rather than coins.

One of the most beautiful coins ever designed

Weinman's famous Walking Libery Design

Adolph Weinman’s only other connection to the Mint before 1916 was in his 1905 collaboration with Saint-Gaudens on the inaugural medal for President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a great admirer of the elder sculptor, and high hopes were placed on this private commission. The frail Saint-Gaudens, his mind still alive with ideas, drew on his former assistant Weinman to do the actual modeling.3 In opting to portray the president in the style of the great Renaissance medallists, Saint-Gaudens achieved an effect far bolder than that of Barber and George T. Morgan in their officially sanctioned medal for the same occasion. The partnership of Saint-Gaudens’ grand vision and Weinman’s talented hands made for an artistic triumph.

At the suggestion of the Commission of Fine Arts, Adolph A. Weinman was one of three sculptors invited to submit designs for a new dime, quarter dollar and half dollar in 1916. His entries were selected for the smallest and largest coins, while those of Hermon A. MacNeil were to appear on the quarter. The obverse figures for both of Weinman’s coins were derived in part from the bust of Elsie Kachel Stevens that he executed around 1913. Her features appear in closeup on the dime and in miniature as part of a full figure on the half dollar. After many trials and tribulations, the finished coins entered circulation in October 1916 and January 1917, respectively. Despite their popularity with collectors, both coins would succumb within two years of one another to a changing taste in art and to the exigencies of politics. The dime was discontinued after 1945, the half dollar after 1947. The obverse of Weinman’s half dollar was revived in 1986 for the United States Mint’s silver one-ounce bullion coin and thus remains current.

Other notable works by A. A. Weinman include monuments to Abraham Lincoln at Hodgenville, Kentucky and Madison, Wisconsin.4 His “Fountains of the Tritons” decorates the grounds of the state capitol at Jefferson, Missouri, while a statue of Major General Alexander Macomb stands in Detroit. The Museum of the City of New York was graced with his statues of Alexander Hamilton and DeWitt Clinton. Weinman created two allegorical scenes for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition titled “The Rising Sun” and “The Descending Night.”5 Numerous other works of monumental sculpture bear his signature, as well.

In addition to his two coin commissions, Weinman was highly sought as a medallist. In speaking of his work in this medium, Cornelius Vermeule could not conceal his admiration:

“Weinman’s medals leave no room for doubt that he was an exceptionally talented sculptor. His feeling for subtleties of relief on a small scale, in the framework of a medallic tondo, was most perceptive.”6

Further medallic works include a World War I commemorative for the staff of New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital and the J. Sanford Saltus Award for Medallic Art, a tribute bestowed by the American Numismatic Society. Fittingly, Weinman himself received this award in 1920. Other recipients whose names will be familiar to students of United States coinage include Victor D. Brenner, James Earle Fraser, John Flanagan and Hermon A. MacNeil.7 Among Weinman’s most widely disseminated works is the Victory Button, presented to all veterans of World War 1.

Adolph A. Weinman died on August 7, 1952, five years after the last of his coins had been superseded by more modernistic designs. Able to look back over a lifetime of remarkable achievements in the art of sculpture, it’s doubtful that he experienced much regret at the passing of his coins from production. In any event, both pieces remained abundantly familiar in circulation for some years following his death. Today, they enrich the cabinets of numismatists worldwide.

Article taken from Historic Detroit Website

 Obverse and Reverse

The obverse and reverse of a coin. United States Mint image

When we were children, we called the sides of our coins “heads” and “tails.” If you want to be taken seriously as a numismatist (person who studies and collects coins), it is time to learn the proper terms to describe your coins. This way, you can talk to other collectors and coin dealers in the special language of coin collecting, and they’ll not only understand what you mean, but they’ll have a lot more respect for you as a serious numismatist.

Have you ever seen a tail on the back of a coin? Neither have I, but most coins actually do have a head. We call the head side of the coin the obverse. The other side, (the one without the tail) is the reverse.

The Legend, Inscription, Rim and Field

The location of the Legend, Rim, and Field of a coin. Adapted from a United States Mint image

Let’s take a look at the reverse side of a U.S. Lincoln Cent. The first thing to notice is theLegend, also called the Inscription. This is the part of a coin that tells us important things like who made the coin, and how much it is worth.

The field is any flat area of the coin that hasn’t been raised off of the coin during minting. The portion of the design that has been raised is called the relief.

The rim is the upraised part of the coin that runs all the way around the edge of the coin on both sides. The reason for the rim is three-fold: First, it protects the coin’s design from wearing out too quickly; second, it makes the coins easier to stack, and third, it helps bring up the devices during striking.

The Motto, Mint Mark, and Edge

The location of the Motto, Edge, and Mint Mark on a coin. Adapted from a United States Mint image

This is the obverse of the U.S. Lincoln Cent. You can see one of the mottos along the top of the coin, “In God We Trust.” A motto is a word or phrase that has a special meaning to people, perhaps stirring emotions or inspiring them. Current United States coinage has 3 mottos: “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “E Pluribus Unum”. “E Pluribus Unum” is Latin for “Out of Many, One”.

Note the edge of the coin: it has a plain, unadorned surface. The edge is the actual side of the coin, and shouldn’t be confused with the rim.

The mint mark is a letter or symbol that tells us where the coin was minted. Mint marks have appeared on coins since ancient Greek and Roman times, and served as a sort of quality-control mark. If the coin was later found to be wrong somehow, such as silver that wasn’t pure enough, the King or Caesar would know who to question about this. Today, the mint marks on circulating U.S. coins tell us that the coin was minted in one of the following places:

Denver – D
San Francisco – S (producing Proof coins only)
Philadelphia – P (or sometimes no mint mark)

Certain other United States coins, such as gold bullion and proof coins, bear different mint marks than those above.

The Portrait, Date, and Designer’s Initials

The location of the Portrait, Date, and Designer’s Initials on a coin. Adapted from a United States Mint image

One of the most important parts of a coin’s design is its portrait. Most coins have one, including all currently circulating U.S. coins. Portraits on U.S. coins meant for circulation have featured Miss Liberty and former Presidents, but have never featured a living person. This is a major difference between U.S. coinage and that of many other countries, such as England, that have a hereditary monarchy (e.g. a King or Queen as symbolic or literal Head of State.) On their coins the living, reigning Monarch is depicted in the portrait.

The date on the coin tells us when the coin was minted. As we saw on the page before this, the letter right below the date is the mint mark.

The designer’s initials have appeared on most U.S. coins, although they can sometimes be hard to find. Even if you know where they are, you might need a magnifying glass to read them. On the U.S. Lincoln Cent here, the initials are hidden at the base of the portrait in tiny letters; I enlarged them a bit so you can read them. They are “VDB” for Victor David Brenner, the designer of the obverse side of the Lincoln penny which has been in use since 1909.

The Reeded Edge & Clad Layers

Well-worn clad quarters with a copper core and reeded edges. Photo courtesy of CoinPage.com

This is a side view of some fairly well-circulated quarters. U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars are called clad coins, because layers of different metals have been sandwiched together. When you look at the edge of a modern clad coin, you can see the copper in the middle, with the outer layers of a silver-colored alloy called cupro-nickel on either side. The U.S. began issuing copper/cupro-nickel clad coins in 1968. (Cupro-nickel is just a fancy word meaning the metal is made of copper and nickel mixed together to form an alloy.)

Earlier in this tutorial we saw a plain edge on the U.S. Cent. These coins have reeded edges. The same U.S. coins that are clad are also reeded (the dime, quarter, and half dollar).

The Proof Coin and the Cameo Portrait

This is a proof coin showing the location of the Cameo Portrait, Upset Rim, and Reeded Edge. Adapted from a United States Mint image

proof coin is made using a special minting process that results in especially high-quality coins. Proof coins aren’t meant for general circulation; they are made for collectors. The proof process has been improved through the years, and one of the features of modern proof coin technology is the cameo portrait.

The cameo portrait, (often just called the “cameo”), has a frosted, matte finish that stands out in sharp contrast to the highly-polished, shiny surface of the field. Proof coins haven’t always been made this way, so keep in mind that not all proof coins will have a cameo, but all proof coins should have pristine, shiny, mirror-like surfaces and clean, bold designs.

The same coins that have reeded edges on their normal, circulating versions will have reeded edges on their proofs. All U.S. coins, proof or circulating, also have a rim. The technical term for this rim is the upset rim because when the coins go through the minting process, the rim is created by the “upsetting” machine. This really just means that the rim is set upward from the surface of the coin, but now you know a highly technical term to impress your fellow collectors with!

Article originally posted at About.com website, http://coins.about.com/od/coinsglossary/ss/coinanatomy.htm

Euro Designer Luc Luycx

Luc Luycx

Luc Luycx (pronounced Lowx) was a 43-year-old computer engineer and coin designer who lived in Dendermonde, Belgium. Luycx had been working at the Koninklijke Belgische Munt (Royal Belgium Mint) for 15 years, designing coins on computer. In 1996, Luyncx created a series of coins in CorelDRAW and sumbitted them to the design competition held by every EU member state, with the exception of Denmark. He was not alone of course. Professional coin designers, artists and sculptors from all over the European Union submitted their own designs for the contest which was limited to three themes: architectural, abstract and European personalities.

A European jury of independent experts chose the nine best series out of a total of 36 in March 1997. The winning design was the clear favourite of an opinion poll organised by the European Commission among both the general public and a wide range of currency users’ organisations, including consumers and representatives of the blind and the visually impaired, and also with the European Parliament. In the final stages 63.8% of a sample of 1900 europeans selected Luycx’s series of coins, featuring the map of Europe with all the countries’ borders and a background symbolizing Europe with 12 stars. The final decision on the design was taken by the European Council meeting in Amsterdam in June 1997. Luycx won the competition for the common face of the coins and today his designs appear on the back of 50 billion euro coins circulating throughout Europe. He also received 24,000 ECU for his prize-winning series of design.

Who is who

Luycx’s career started out quite differently, as he first worked as a computer engineer. He had no experience with creating designs on the computer, but loved to paint and draw with a pen. When his supervisor asked him to take a coin engraving course 10 years ago, he was introduced to CorelDRAW and his new passion for designing coins began. “When I was designing the coins, I made rough sketches on paper and scanned them into the computer,” said Luycx. “I did the rest of the work, including the design and the editing, with CorelDRAW”.

Designing the euro

Luycx’s main concern was making the value of the coin clear at first glance and even from a distance. So, with clear-cut numbers in his head, he set to work on the design which also emphasises European integration. Next to the number inscriptions of the one, two and five cent coins, Luycx placed a tiny globe with the outlines of the European continent. On some Euro coins, the 15 EU countries are clearly separated, while on others, the individual countries depicted, merge into one continent. “A Europe-wide currency has to be neutral, the graphics can’t be too specific. If I had opted for portraits of famous people or architectural monuments then one country was bound to be more strongly represented”, he says.

Luycx also consciously included England, Denmark and Sweden in his design, though the three are holding on to their national currencies to start with. And with foresight, he even left some scope within his design to include prospective EU member states at a later stage. In this way if the need arises, a new series of euro coins could be rustled up within a few years. Based on plaster models, a precise matrix was drawn up for each of the new coins to be minted from. This pattern ensures that every single coin across the continent has an identical front. The coins also have milled edges to make it easier – especially for those with impaired sight – to recognise different values. Sophisticated bi-metal technology has been incorporated into the Euro 1 and Euro 2 coins which, together with lettering around the edge of the Euro 2 coin will prevent counterfeiting.

Luc Luycx was pleased. “I think they’ve really turned out well, great! I wasn’t expecting that. I’m very pleased with them.” Naturally, Luycx was looking forward to January 1, 2002, when people Europe wide would be exchanging the coins – and his designs – as legal tender for the first time.

Article Taken from Fleur De Coin Website http://www.fleur-de-coin.com/eurocoins/lucluycx.asp