US Coins

Philadelphia Mint striking World War I silver dollars

Ceremonial first strikes of the Proof 2018-P World War I American Veterans Centennial silver dollar were executed Nov. 28 at the Philadelphia Mint before the facility went into full-scale production for the commemorative coin program.

Among those attending the first-strike ceremony were LeRoy Transfield, the Utah sculptor who won the open design competition for the commemorative coin program, and Donald Everhart II, the U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver who sculptured Transfield’s designs before his July 31, 2017, retirement from the Mint’s engraving staff after a 13-and-a-half-year career at the Philadelphia Mint.

During the ceremonial striking, .900 fine silver blanks were manually fed, one at a time between coinage dies on a German-made Gräbener coinage press. The coin’s obverse serves as the upper or hammer die, and the reverse as the anvil, or lower die. The blanks are struck three times with the coinage dies, with a striking pressure of 218 metric tons per strike.

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Transfield’s obverse design, titled “Soldier’s Charge,” depicts an almost stone-like soldier gripping a rifle. Barbed wire twines through the lower right side of the design. Inscriptions are LIBERTY, 1918, 2018, and IN GOD WE TRUST.

The approved reverse design, titled “Poppies in the Wire,” features poppy blossoms with barbed wire entwined. Inscriptions are ONE DOLLAR, E PLURIBUS UNUM, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Barbed wire was a common element on the World War I battlefields, used between trenches to stifle troop advancement and mechanized machinery movement. Following the trench warfare that took place in the poppy fields of Flanders during World War I, poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime.

Everhart said he was pleased with how his renderings of Transfield’s designs translated in struck form on the coin. Everhart said he had produced two sets of clay models, the first in hard clay and the second in a softer clay. He said he wanted to capture all of the design strokes Transfield followed in sketching his obverse and reverse designs. Everhart believes the struck coins are a true reflection of Transfield’s design vision. 

The authorizing legislation for the commemorative silver dollar program, Public Law 113–212, calls for the production and release, in Uncirculated and Proof versions combined, of up to 350,000 silver dollars. Up to 100,000 coins of the maximum production could be earmarked for a numismatic product that pairs the Proof 2018-P silver dollar with one of five Proof silver medals honoring the branches of military service during World War I — U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Air Service.

The mintage for each medal will be determined by the orders placed once sales for the program begin at noon ET Jan. 17. The total of medals to be struck is not to exceed 100,000 for all five set options combined.  

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