US Coins

Former U.S. Mint designer opens online exhibit of work

Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer Galileo on a 2021 noncirculating legal tender $2 coin for Niue represents one icon of inspiration in Iskowitz’s exhibit.

All images courtesy of Joel Iskowitz,

Former U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program designer Joel Iskowitz’s “Icons of Inspiration” exhibit will live on indefinitely in cyberspace after a public exhibition Oct. 20 to Nov. 7 at the Atlantic Gallery in New York City.

The exhibit will be posted online first at before eventually moving to, which is currently under construction, according to Iskowitz.

Iskowitz, with website, was contracted as an AIP artist for 12 years, from 2005 through 2017, during which he contributed 54 approved coin and medal designs for the United States Mint.

“The ‘Icons of Inspiration’ theme derives from the combination of professional experiences that I have been privileged to engage in as a narrative artist,” Iskowitz said.

The three main topical areas are governmental, for philatelic and numismatic designs; United States Air Force and NASA art, comprising reportage paintings; and international and private sector commissions, which have included world paper money.

“The on-site visits to Kennedy Space Center, the pro bono work documenting Aerospace for NASA, and the historical art generated by accompanying the USAF on location to Normandy, the China India Burma Theater of World War II have played an important part in making my designs for stamps, coins and medals ring true historically and hopefully on the level of the human stories that are embodied in our collective historic heritage,” Iskowitz said.

“All this adds up to my profound appreciation for those who have led the way — ‘Icons of Inspiration’ — on the fields of battle, the arts and letters and in matters of state.”

Among the designs that Iskowitz will feature in his online gallery are:

➤ 2021 1-ounce .999 fine silver noncirculating-legal tender $2 coin, silver, issued by the country of Niue, featuring a portrait of Galileo on the obverse and an allegorical figure that Iskowitz has named Astra on the reverse. The artist’s Astra represents the goddess of inspiration, innovation and creativity in all disciplines and embodies attributes of Athena and Aphrodite plus all of the nine original muses fused together.

➤ A 1-ounce .999 fine silver medal issued in 2015 on the 150th anniversary of the June, 19, 1865, ending of slavery in the United States. On the obverse are jugate busts facing right of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and William Lloyd Garrison

➤ The kick-off piece for a planned series of silver medals recognizing decisive battles of the Vietnam War. The first medal is dedicated to the Jan. 21, 1968, to July, 9, 1968, Battle of Khe Sanh. The obverse depicts U.S. soldiers wading through water with a rescue helicopter hovering in the background and the Vietnam Service Medal insignia in the upper right field. The common reverse for the medals depicts a battlefield cross — a soldier’s rifle with helmet on top and dog tags suspended, symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice — silhouetted against a foggy jungle backdrop with Huey helicopters above.

➤ A series of noncirculating legal tender coins commissioned by the Cook Islands Trust to recognize the “Lost States of America.” Among the issues is one for the state of Franklin, depicting a portrait left on the obverse of Benjamin Franklin. The reverse illustrates an American landscape, with an eagle soaring overhead and an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II centered at bottom.

➤ A series of 1-ounce .999 fine silver medals recognizing the “Lost States of America,” including the state of McDonald, state of Franklin, state of Deseret and state of Jacinto.

➤ Medals depicting representations of Britannia (Great Britain), Liberty (America) and Marianne (France).

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