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Gasparro's original design the best

I was packing for a move the other day, when I came across a Christmas card with a "thank you" from the late Frank Gasparro, former chief engraver of the U.S. Mint.


Gasparro is known to collectors for designing the Memorial reverse on the Lincoln cent and the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar.

He is also recalled, not so fondly, for his depiction on the nation's first mini-dollar (1979-1981, 1999) of famous 19th-century advocate of woman's suffrage, Susan B. Anthony. In fairness to Gasparro, the design looks like Anthony, and Gasparro was mandated by the act authorizing the coin to depict her on the coin's obverse.

What should be remembered is that Gasparro preferred a much different design for the new dollar—one of his own, which was reminiscent of early U.S. coins. It showed a flowing hair Liberty on the obverse and an eagle in flight on the reverse.


At the time, I was on the staff of Numismatic News and wrote a regular column called "Striking Impressions." I liked Gasparro's original design, showed it in my column, and said so. It wasn't long after that I received the card and "thank you" for my comments on his design, which I've kept since in a display cabinet.

I still think Gasparro's design would have been a better choice (see the accompanying picture of Gasparro with his models). Though I doubt it would have made any difference as to how well the coin circulated.