Paul Gilkes has an article in the September 10, 2012 issue of Coin World about the U.S. Mint's use of new test dies using the same designs as those used beginning in the 1960s. here's an excerpt.
The U.S. Mint is using modified Martha Washington and Mount Vernon designs on dies for current testing of alternative alloys for the composition of the nation’s coins.
At the U.S. Mint booth at the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia in August, U.S. Mint Medallic Artist Joseph F. Menna had displayed on his laptop screen an image of a Martha Washington test die obverse design he created several years ago for testing. That image is illustrated with this article.
According to U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White Aug. 16, Menna’s Martha Washington design is not the design being used to produce dies for the current alternative coin compositions research.
Menna’s creation, according to White, is a digital design that differs in execution from the old Martha Washington obverse first used for compositional test strikes under provisions of the Coinage Act of 1965 and used later for testing alloys in 1999 for the Sacagawea dollar.
Menna’s Martha Washington obverse design features a portrait of the first lady facing right, with VIRGINIA along the top border, FIRST LADY along the bottom border, and in the field in front of the portrait in three lines, MARTHA / WASHINGTON / 1759.
Mint officials have used Martha Washington and Mount Vernon designs on “nonsense” dies produced for experimental striking for nearly 50 years.
The original Martha Washington and Mount Vernon designs, used on dies for metallurgical die trial testing and research in 1965 and 1999, are the work of U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Edward R. Grove and U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Philip Fowler.
Grove, a sculptor, medalist and bank note engraver, was a close friend of Chief U.S. Mint Engraver Gilroy Roberts. Roberts convinced Grove to accept a vacancy on the Mint’s engraving staff at the Philadelphia Mint in 1962.
Grove left the Mint’s employ to pursue a freelance career soon after executing the Martha Washington designs.
Fowler is credited as the artist for the Mount Vernon reverse used in 1965 and 1999.
Examples of experimental test strikes from the 1965 and 1999 research have entered the marketplace.
To read the complete article, see:
New Martha Washington dies in use for tests
Wayne Homren, Editor
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