The United States Mint did not mark the centennial of President
Kennedy’s May 29, 1917, birth, but two individuals highly involved in
American coin design for the last decade have stepped in to mark the event.
Gary Marks, former Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee chairman, and
Heidi Wastweet, current CCAC member and artist (who has also designed
coins and medals for the Mint), partnered to issue a 1-ounce silver
medal depicting the slain president on his birth anniversary.
Marks designed the piece, which was sculptured by Wastweet and
struck at the Medallic Art Co., in Dayton, Nev.
“I feel that JFK’s birth centennial is going largely unnoticed by
the American public and my medal was my small contribution to raise
awareness and to once again honor this great man,” Marks told Coin
World in an email interview.
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About six months before the anniversary, Marks realized that there
would not be any commemoration in the numismatic community.
“His untimely death was a great tragedy and loss for America,” Marks
said. “It was the untimeliness and the loss of a great man that served
as the central theme of my inspiration for the medal.”
The obverse of the medal features a bust of the president, set
against an empty profile of the man, symbolizing the sentiment that he
was “gone too soon.”
Inscriptions read JOHN F. KENNEDY / BIRTH CENTENNIAL / 1917–2017.
The reverse carries an outlined eagle and part of one of Kennedy’s
most famous quotes, “We shall pay any price to ensure the survival and
success of liberty.”
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Inscriptions on the reverse also note the medal’s weight and metal.
“Part of what made JFK a great American leader was his belief in,
and his drive to champion the cause of Liberty,” Marks said. “It was
this aspect of his leadership that I wanted to express on the reverse.
His famous ‘Pay any price’ quotation from his inaugural address seemed
the perfect way to accomplish my objective.”
The black regions shown on images of the medal are the polished
Proof areas. The white regions show frosted areas.
The medal has a mintage limit of 1,000 pieces and was still
available as of June 2. A group of about 100 pieces on hand had sold,
but delivery of remaining medals was expected to begin the second week
Medals are encapsulated and accompanied by a certificate of
authenticity. They cost $51.95 and are available direct from the
Marks is also a city administrator in Lebanon, Ore., and formerly
served in similar roles in other towns, in Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
An avid artist, he spearheaded a design contest for a commemorative
medal when he served in Ketchum, Idaho.
He brands his artistic endeavors under the Midnight Insomniac Art
Studios name, and has designed several other medals, including one for
his wife, Laurie, for the fictional country of Marksova.
Wastweet is an accomplished artist who has sculptured more than
1,000 coins, medals, tokens and rare coin replicas since 1987. In
additional to serving as vice president of the American Medallic
Sculpture Association, Wastweet is a member of the National Sculpture
Society and other national and international arts organizations.
She is in the third year of her second four-year term on the CCAC.
The President’s Medals
President Kennedy is remembered today because of his youthful
presidency and his tragic death, and for such accomplishments as
navigating the world away from a nuclear holocaust during the Cuban
Missile Crisis and for setting NASA on the path of manned missions to
He is honored with an abundance of numismatic items. Many of these
items are chronicled in The Kennedy World in Medallic Art, written by
William R. Rice and published by Whitman Publishing.
To mark the birth centennial, Whitman is offering free examples of
the book with purchases above $25 at Whitman's website. when using the code “JFK”
during checkout. The offer continues through June 30, 2017.