US Coins

Gasparro’s Flowing Hair Liberty struck on Anthony $1

United States Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro created a Flowing Hair Liberty dollar design in 1977, but it lost out to the Anthony dollar. A tribute version of the design, above, has been struck over authentic 1979 Anthony dollars, leaving elements of the host coins' designs visible. The tribute strikes are also marked COPY.

Coin images courtesy of Ken Potter.

Frank Gasparro’s proposed Flowing Hair Liberty design for a small dollar coin was close to being made for circulation, before the Anthony dollar was issued instead.

Forty years after the Liberty design was proposed, the Royal Oak Mint, in conjunction with error coin specialist and dealer Ken Potter, has overstruck the design on actual Anthony dollars.

The 2017 overstrikes on 1979 Anthony dollars are limited to 200 pieces. According to the private mint, they are an exact-size faithful reproduction of the proposed design that was created to replace the rarely used and unwieldy large Eisenhower dollar.

Each coin will be unique in that subtle hints of the host coin's original design will show to slightly different degrees on each piece.

Design inspiration

Gasparro’s design materials are now held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, donated by Gasparro’s daughter in 2009.

Within that collection appears a newspaper clipping of a fashion model wearing an Albert Nipon designer suit. With the quick stroke of a pen, Gasparro turned the model’s profile into the portrait of a Flowing Hair Liberty, which progressed into a final sketch for the coin’s obverse.

His reverse design sketches reveal several variations of an eagle in flight, bursting through the rays of the sun in the background, complete with 13 stars symbolizing the original colonies. The design is titled “The Coming of a New Dawn,” according to Coin World’s Comprehensive Catalog & Encyclopedia of United States Coins.

The soaring eagle is “vaguely reminiscent of the one on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle type, although flying over a mountain sunrise,” according to the Catalog.

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The Nipon brand was launched in 1972, but Gasparro had the idea for a modern Flowing Hair dollar at least a few years earlier — he designed the medal for the American Numismatic Association’s 1969 convention, which utilizes a Flowing Hair design.

Galvanos were prepared for an 11-sided Flowing Hair dollar that was 26.5 millimeters in diameter. Gasparro told Coin World’s Paul Gilkes that trial strikings of his design were made at the Philadelphia Mint, but all were destroyed soon after.

“A photograph of a presumed trial strike indicates a round planchet with plain edge, although at the time Mint officials were still seriously considering the 11-sided planchet,” according to the Coin World book.

Gasparro’s design, judged as superior by many hobbyists, was no match for suffragist Anthony, whose taciturn visage entered circulation in 1979, to much ballyhoo.

Ordering details

The 2017 overstrike pieces will each be packaged in an Air-Tite holder and accompanied by a numbered certificate of mintage.

Potter stressed that all overstrikes will include the word COPY, in compliance with the Hobby Protection Act of 1973.

The maximum order per customer is five pieces. The 2017 pieces are priced at $65 each, with shipping at $3.99 per order.

To order, write to Potter, P.O. Box 33, Pinckney, MI 48169, or call him at 313-255-8907.

This is the second tribute to the Gasparro designs in 2017, following the release and sellout of Grove Minting Co.’s tribute medal. Limited to a mintage of 750 pieces, those medals sold for $15 each and are now commanding strong sums in the secondary market.

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