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World War I Centennial Dollar Coin Design Announced

October 10, 2017 0 Comments

The USA entered World War I in April 1917, but it was the summer of 1918 before a significant number of troops engaged with the German enemy. So it is that year, 1918, that the US mint has chosen to commemorate with a new silver dollar. The coin itself is not yet available, but on October 9 the design was revealed to a waiting audience of coin collectors and WWI enthusiasts.

The winning design was found through a contest that was open from February 29 –April 28, 2016. Artists submitted samples of their work, and 20 were selected. These were judged by a jury made up of three members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and three members of the Commission of Fine Arts. The winner was LeRoy Transfield of Orem, Utah. LeRoy is a sculptor who also works in his local wholefoods store, so he is a true ‘man of the people’ and a fitting designer for a work celebrating the sacrifice of American servicemen. The coin itself was created by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, a well-known engraver who has now retired.

LeRoy’s design features three powerful symbols of the war – the resolute soldier, barbed wire and red poppies. Barbed wire was ubiquitous on the battle fields, and thousands of miles of it covered the European countryside, so that soldiers battled through it in every engagement. The poem “In Flanders Fields” was written in 1915 by a Canadian doctor on the battle field, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. Its most famous lines are “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row.” It immediately became hugely popular and has continued to be used to evoke the tragedy and loss of WWI. Red poppies are sold all around the world to commemorate the war, and the American Legion has used the poppy symbol since 1920.

The obverse of the coin shows a determined, almost stone-like soldier, rifle tightly clenched, pushing against coils of barbed wire. His coat collar is turned up against the bitter cold that plagued the battle-fields. LeRoy Transfield called this design ‘Soldier’s Charge’. The word LIBERTY is in the upper left, with 1918, 2018 below it, and IN GOD WE TRUST on the right.

The reverse side shows a line of poppies appearing to grow through coils of barbed wire, with the words ONE DOLLAR and E PLURIBUS UNUM above them. Below is the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. This design is called, “Poppies in the Wire.” An unusual feature of the coin is the apparent lack of a border or rim around it. The design seems to extend to the very edge of the coin, giving it a unique appearance.

The exact sale date of these silver coins has not yet been announced – we will keep you informed when we have news. However, we do know that $10 will be added to each purchase price as a donation to the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars. These funds will be given to the World War I Centennial Commission, for as yet unannounced activities to memorialize this important centenary of America’s entry onto the world stage.

In addition to this silver coin, a series of commemorative medals will be released by the US Mint in 2018, to honor each part of the forces – the Army, Navy, Air Service, Marines and Coast Guard.

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