A Liberty Head design almost made it onto a dollar coin in 1977 before Susan B. Anthony derailed it.
The 40th anniversary of this dollar that never was is now celebrated by a new medal issued by the Grove Minting Company. Examples are available for sale to collectors.
The new medal pays homage to Frank Gasparro, the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, and his concept design for what became the small dollar coin.
Jared Grove says this commemorative is based on Gasparro’s original 1977 Flowing Hair Liberty dollar trial strike, which he said was conceptualized from imagery now held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History after it was donated in 2009 by Gasparro’s daughter.
Within that collection appears a unique newspaper clipping of a fashion model wearing an Albert Nipon designer suit. With the quick stroke of a pen, Frank turned this fashion model’s profile into the portrait of a Flowing Hair Liberty, which progressed into a final sketch for the coin’s obverse.
His reverse design sketches offered different variations of an eagle in flight, bursting through the rays of the sun in the background, complete with 13 stars symbolizing the original colonies.
This Liberty design favored by most coin collectors at the time would later be replaced by the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin issued in 1979.
In addition to Anthony’s profile on the 1979 obverse, the reverse simply picked up the reverse from the Eisenhower dollar, which in turn had picked it up from the Apollo 11 moon mission patch.
Grove says the Flowing Hair Liberty motif was utilized prior to 1977 in the obverse rendering of the 1969 American Numismatic Association Philadelphia convention medal. There were 400 examples struck.
Herein lies a small mystery, according to Grove. The Albert Nipon brand launched in 1972, so the inspirational newspaper clipping and subsequent rendering for the 1977 Flowing Hair prototype must have been envisioned by Frank Gasparro before he ever saw the newspaper in the creation of the 1969 ANA medal. The newspaper sketch could have rekindled similar thoughts in 1977.
The Grove anniversary medal is attentive in exacting detail to the original proposed depiction. This commemorative includes the 11-sided inside border, which was introduced to aid the public in distinguishing the new dollar from the U.S. quarter.
The medal’s obverse shows Liberty with a Phrygian Liberty Cap on Pole.
The reverse features an eagle in flight, complete with 13 stars, 10 rays, and the Grove Minting Coat of Arms.
The commemorative is struck as a proof in nickel at 25mm wide, weighing 8.6 grams with a plain edge.
Mintage of the medal is limited to 750 pieces. It is being offered to collectors for $15 plus $2.60 shipping on Grove Minting Company’s website at www.groveminting.com.
This is the company’s seventh exclusive product, according to Grove.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
More Collecting Resources
• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2017 North American Coins & Prices guide.
• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you'll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.