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WWI Centennial in Coins

January 22, 2018 0 Comments

2018 is an important Centennial year, because it marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the World War One. Those celebrating its end in 1918 didn’t realize that within two decades they would be at war again, or that WWI marked the beginning of the modern era, with its great upheavals and power shifts.

Such an important event will be marked by ceremonies around the world, and the US Mint is not letting this opportunity slip by either. At noon on January 17, 2018, they released seven products simultaneously to mark this great, historic turning point. There are two forms of the 2018 WWI Centennial Silver Dollar, an uncirculated coin, and a proof coin. In addition, there are five associated sets. We have discussed the design of the Silver Dollars in a previous blog, “World War I Centennial Dollar Coin Design Announced”, so here will look at the commemorative sets.

The sets all contain a proof WWI Centennial Dollar, with the designs of LeRoy Transfield. As well as the silver dollar, each set has a different silver medal, honoring the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that were active in the First World War.

The 5 medals are:

The Army – Emily Damstra designed the image of two soldiers in a battlefield of craters and dead trees. One is cutting through German barbed wire, while the other aims his rifle. The reverse is the United States Army emblem, with the inscriptions OVER THERE!, CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I, 2018, and UNITED STATES ARMY.

The Navy – this medal’s obverse shows a U.S. Navy destroyer just after releasing a depth charge, while protecting a supplies convoy. Kite balloons in the air were used to spot submarines and other dangers. The inscription OVER THERE! is below the design by Chris Costello. The reverse is a badge from an Officer’s Cap used in World War I. The Inscriptions are UNITED STATES NAVY, 2018, and CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I. The reverse was designed by Renata Gordon.

The Air Service – The obverse depicts the SPAD XIII, a World War I fighter that was state-of-the-art at the time. The inscription SPAD XIII identifies the aircraft. Ron Sanders designed the image. Joseph Menna designed the reverse, showing the insignia of a Military Aviator, with the inscriptions CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I, 2018, OVER THERE!, AIR SERVICE, and AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES.

The U.S. Marines – This medal commemorates the Battle of Belleau Wood, where, against great odds, a corps of Marines took a strategic position from the German Army, losing over 1,000 men in the process. The obverse shows two Marines after the battle. One kneels in respect of his fallen comrades, while the other stands guard. The inscription is a message sent to headquarters after the battle: WOODS NOW U.S. MARINE CORPS ENTIRELY. Chris Costello designed the image. Joseph Menna designed the reverse, showing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem of the Marines in its World War I version. The inscriptions CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I, 2018, OVER THERE!, and BATTLE OF BELLEAU WOOD, complete the design.

The U.S. Coast Guard – Artist Phebe Hemphill created both sides of this medal. The obverse shows the rescue of the torpedoed steamship ‘Wellington’, by the Coast Guard Cutter ‘USCGC Seneca’. A lifeboat is crossing heavy seas to make the rescue. The reverse is the Coast Guard emblem as it appeared in World War I, with the inscriptions CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I, 2018, and OVER THERE!

Interest in these sets and coins is bound to be high, especially as more and more people become aware of the importance of this Centennial Year.

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