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New Native American $1 Design Revealed

December 25, 2017 0 Comments

Although the US Mint no longer puts $1 coins into circulation, following their continuing rejection by the public, they do make a number of $1 coins for collectors. A very popular current theme is the Native American $1 Coin Program. This began in 2009, to mark and commemorate the important role that Native Americans have played in the development of the United States of America. Both tribes and prominent individuals have been instrumental in the history and development of the country, and this series of special coins highlights that.

The obverse is a constant throughout the series, as is required by the legislation that established the series. It features Sacagawea, a Native American woman who guided the Lewis & Clark expedition between 1804 and 1806 in their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. She acted as a translator, and showed the explorers essential mountain passes on their long trek. Without her this vital exploration, that opened the new country to development, would not have been possible. The engraving, which shows Sacagawea, who came from the Lemhi Shoshone tribe, carrying her child on her back, was created by the sculptor Glenna Goodacre. The words LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST, frame the figure. Unusually, the words E PLURIBUS UNUM, the year of issue, and the mintmark are stamped into the rim of the coin, not on the face sides.

So it is the reverse that changes each year, and on December 21, 2017, the Mint showed the design for the 2018 coin. This year the chosen Native America is James Francis Thorpe, known as Jim Thorpe. He grew up in the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma, with the name Wa-Tho-Huk, which translates as “Bright Path”. Born in 1887, he became the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. At the 1912 Olympics, held in Stockholm, Sweden, he won not one but two gold medals, for pentathlon and decathlon., He was a remarkable all-round athlete, and he played both collegiate and professional American football as well as baseball and basketball. Thorpe died in 1953.

Fifteen designs for the coin were first shown to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts, in October 2015. The two groups chose different designs, but it was the CCAC design, which was also approved by Thorpe’s two sons, that won out in the end. That design, by Michael Gaudioso, shows a profile of Thorpe, with him in action as two figures in the foreground. One is playing football, and the other is Thorpe at the Olympics. The original design has his translated name, ‘Bright Path’, on it, but the CCAC had that changed to WA-THO-HUK. As well, JIM THORPE, $1, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are engraved among the figures.

The designer, Michael Gaudioso, is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He has a Master of Fine Arts from the New York Academy Graduate School of Figurative Art in New York City. As well, he studied sculpture in Russia, and worked creating stained-glass for America’s oldest and largest stained-glass studio, Willet Hauser. He has been a resident Sculptor-Engraver at the US Mint since 2009.

This design is sure to create interest in the latest coin in this popular series, when it is released in 2018, and should be a hit with collectors across the country.

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