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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 22, May 28, 2006, Article 2

JOHN MERCANTI ELEVATED TO HEAD OF U.S. MINT ENGRAVING DEPARTMENT

According to Don Carlucci of the Pennsylvania Association of
Numismatists, Sculptor-Engraver John Mercanti has been named
head of the engraving department of the U.S. Mint.  Mercanti
received word of the appointment last Friday, May 19.
Congratulations!

Elizabeth Jones was the last Chief Engraver, but the position
was abolished after she left the Mint.   Until that point the
line of Chief Engravers had been unbroken back to George Washington's
appointment of David Rittenhouse in 1792.  As a traditionally
lifetime appointment, I believe there have been fewer Chief Engravers
than Presidents of the United States or Justices of the Supreme Court.
Mercanti has been with the Mint since the 1970s, serving longer than
any engraver currently on the staff.

According to Don, Mercanti has produced more coin and medal designs
than any employee in U.S. Mint history (over 100).  Among his current
efforts is a  design for the upcoming $5 commemorative coin honoring
the Jamestown settlement (1607-2007).

Dick Johnson isn't sure about who holds the title of most prolific
U.S coin designer, but with all his modern commemoratives, bullion
pieces and medals, Mercanti's certainly in the running.  Do patterns
count?  Where would Barber, Morgan and Longacre land on the list of
most prolific designers?  This is why I'd love to see an online coin
almanac where you could enter queries like that to do research (and
settle bar bets).

John has been the defacto Chief Engraver for some time, but the
department he will now officially lead is vastly different than it
was even a few years ago.  The Treasury has spent millions of dollars
on the latest technology, using computers and 3D laser modeling
machines to automate much of the coin design process.  Reduction
machines have become obsolete - dies are now cut directly from
computer models.  Time to update the minting technology literature!

In typical bureaucratic fashion, the government has assigned a mouthful
of a title to Mercanti's new position: "Supervisor of Design and Master
Tooling Development Specialist."  Doesn't exactly have the poetic
ring of "Chief Engraver" but informally, Mercanti could be called
"the first Chief Engraver of the 21st Century."

No official press release has been published yet, but Paul Gilkes of
Coin World interviewed Mercanti this week, so look for a detailed
article soon.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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