Arriving early at the Denver Mint on July 1, 1982, for the ceremonial
first strike of the Uncirculated version of the George Washington
commemorative half dollar paid dividends.
Commemorative expert Anthony Swiatek and I comprised the Coin
World reporting team.
Although no longer used by the U.S. Mint, galvanos were mounted in a
reduction-engraving machine, which precisely traced designs, reduced
the size, and cut exact replicas into the blank faces of die steel to
create master hubs.
The galvanos of the coin, each about the size of a large dinner
plate, were on display and afforded an opportunity to see minute
details. Swiatek noticed that Chief Sculptor-Engraver Elizabeth Jones’
initials were on both sides, above the horse’s back and next to
Washington’s right arm on the obverse; in the grass below the
colonnade on the right side of the reverse. Then he spotted “MP” on
the left side of the reverse in the shrubbery next to Mount Vernon.
Invitees and Mint officials were beginning to fill the foyer. Mint
Director Donna Pope was talking to ANA President Adna Wilde and two
other men. Swiatek joined the conversation and asked Pope why the
letters “MP” were in the shrubbery. She frowned as though she did not
understand the question.
Swiatek repeated the question with more details. It was obvious she
did not have a clue, but she smiled and promised to get an answer to
All in attendance were ushered into the large conference room at 9
a.m. Denver Superintendent Nora Hussey presided at the “briefing” and
Pope enthused about the coin to be struck, noting Jones as the designer.
Swiatek approached Pope as the group headed down the hallway in
route to the coining press. Pope confirmed that the “MP” stood for
Matthew Peloso, a member of the engraving staff. Obviously there had
been a phone call to the Philadelphia Mint.
Recently, Jones explained that she designed and executed the model
for the obverse. She also designed the reverse. She sculptured
everything on the reverse model except the lettering for the legends
and motto. She said Peloso was excellent at details, especially lettering.
With the final deadline looming, he volunteered to do the lettering.
“I thought his work should be recognized. That’s why his initials are
on the reverse,” Jones said.
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