The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 40, October 4, 2015, Article 20


An article published in CoinWeek September 29, 2015 notes that coin designer Joel Iskowitz will speak at the upcoming Wall Street Collectors Bourse on Friday, October 23, at 2pm. -Editor

Joel Iskowitz at Wall St show

One of the highlights of the 5th Annual Wall Street Collectors Bourse will be a talk by Joel Iskowitz on “Designing Congressional Gold Medals: An Artist’s Perspective”. Mr. Iskowitz will look back on more than three decades creating unparalleled artworks displayed in the Pentagon, the Capitol and the White House. He’s an active United States Air Force artist with oils in the permanent USAF collection.

Twice invited to document space shuttle missions with artwork on permanent display at the Kennedy Space Center Museum, he is the designer of some of our country’s most treasured Congressional Gold Medals–including the New Frontier Gold Medal presented to Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Mercury astronaut John Glenn in the Rotunda of the Capitol on November 16, 2011. His first Congressional Gold Medal was designed for the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots of WWII, followed by the Nisei soldiers and the American Fighter Aces–his Congressional Gold Medals total over a dozen.

Published countless times, with his artworks in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the New York Historical Society and the Paratroopers Historical Society in France, Mr. Iskowitz has also received the National Oceanic and Philatelic Society citation for his contributions to space philately. His obverse design for the Louis Braille Silver Dollar flew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its mission to service the Hubble Telescope. And this is the short list of his accomplishments. In his talk he will discuss his progression from being “anonymously famous” to one of America’s most celebrated artists and medallic designers.

When recently asked how coinage and numismatics reflect a country’s culture – political, artistic, and social, he responded:

“Medals are conferred upon highly regarded individuals who accomplish great deeds. Think of the Congressional Medals plus all the coins and medals throughout history. They picture people who are in power, who lay down the laws that any civilization follows and is willing to march and fight for. Our coinage displays qualities like liberty, justice, honor, achievement, the common good. These overarching human concerns are often represented by allegory. But then again you have the historical side that coinage reflects – each and every empire, kings and rulers whose portraits are represented on the coinage. Because the coinage and medals are public art, they’re epic art. They portray the highest ideals and aspirations of a culture. The coinage is emblematic artwork of those precepts. Often it’s done as large public art in sculptures, but it’s just as epic on the small canvas of a Coin. And even more powerful because it has to be reduced to such a small scale and yet carry such an incredibly potent message.

“Coinage is a very interesting entity because it’s art that travels among the populace and there’s no control on how it travels. It’s put out there and goes through the banking system and then the usual flow of currency. And I am honored to put my art on these objects. It fascinates me that my art moves among the people, compared to art that’s in a museum where people go and visit. My art visits the people and there’s no controlling the way it will move around. So it’s really a very vital form of communication. Each coin and medal is a repository of the history of any given culture or era. It’s history and it’s also an ambassador in a way, because it carries a message with a culture’s finest or most moving moments.

“It’s got one other great thing going for it. Buildings, architecture, paintings, sculpture can be destroyed. These little things are amazing survivors. They’ll go down to the bottom of the ocean and stay in pristine shape for 700 years. It seems that every few months another great discovery is made of a Spanish galleon or vessel with ancient coinage. So the coins are incredible repositories of history, great ambassadors with memories of forbearers.”

Well said. Coins are hardy survivors, and will outlive all of us. Collectors rarely have the opportunity to meet coin creators, so if you'll be in New York that Friday, stop by to hear the talk. -Editor

For more information on the show, see:

To read the complete article, see:
Coin Designer Joel Iskowitz at 5th Annual Wall Street Collectors Bourse (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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