CCAC colleagues create silver medal for JFK’s birthday centennial

Artist Gary Marks, sculptor Heidi Wastweet celebrate JFK birth
By , Coin World
Published : 06/04/17
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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.”

Design Details

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 of June. 

Medals are encapsulated and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. They cost $51.95 and are available direct from the artist, 

The Artists

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 the moon.

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. 

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