With permission, we're republishing excerpts of former U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart series published by CoinWeek beginning in April 2018.
In 2015 I began working on designs for the March of Dimes Commemorative Silver Dollar program. In this case, as in most commemoratives the mint produces, a percentage of the profits the mint makes on the coin would be given back to the recipient, the March of Dimes.
The obverse design that was ultimately chosen featured a well-executed double portrait of Franklin Roosevelt and Jonas Salk, who developed a vaccine to fight polio. Designed by Artistic Infusion Program artist Paul Balan and beautifully sculpted by staff engraver Mike Gaudioso.
One morning I was at my work station at the United States Mint feeling quite frustrated that I couldn't think of a worthy reverse design. I was wracking my brain trying to come up with something simple and iconic that conveyed the mindset and purpose of the March of Dimes organization – a design that they would be proud to put on their commemorative coin.
So far, zilch.
Then it hit me.
My daughter Cristina is a professional photographer in Pennsylvania and lives with her husband Jon and two young boys, Tyler and Jack. She does a lot of weddings and children's photography. More importantly, she has that rare ability to get the most out of her subjects, even crying babies.
Don Everhart working on the March of Dimes commemorative dollar coin plaster. Images: United States Mint / Everhart family (Facebook).
In June of 2012 (on her birthday), she was in the hospital giving birth to her second son (Jack). A little while after the child was born, her husband Jon was in the room with her holding the little newborn Jack in his hand.
Given the dedicated photographer she is, she had come equipped with her camera. Later in the day, in the hospital room she took a picture of the father holding his newborn son. The boy was small enough to be held in one hand. This photo flashed into my mind and I immediately felt it would be a powerful and most appropriate subject for the reverse design on the coin. It conveyed the total dependence of a newborn on his parents, and society in general. It totally fulfilled and illustrated the purpose of the March of Dimes organization. Additionally, it made a very nice design.
I called her and asked if she would mind if I used it for the basis of my coin design. She immediately gave her hearty consent and I began adapting the photo to my design.
I didn't use it verbatim. I changed several things; most notably the hand position and the hair and eyes. I also labored over the font and text placement. Cristina and the Mint signed off on the release of the photo and I submitted it to be considered for the reverse.
Ultimately the design was chosen and I thought about what a family effort it was to bring this design to creation. We had Jon, the father, holding his son, Jack, while the boy's mother Cristina took the photo that the grandfather (yours truly) worked into a design for an official national commemorative coin!
Who said I wouldn't enjoy working for the United States Mint?
To read the complete original article, see:
Don Everhart: My Career in Coins, Part 2 – The United States Mint
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
Don Everhart's Career in Coins, Part 5
Wayne Homren, Editor
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