The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 33, August 13, 2017, Article 16


In a Coin Update article published August 10, 2017. Lou Golino interviews medallic sculptor Don Everhart, who recently retired from the U.S. Mint. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Don Everhart with Lincoln Presidential dollar

Donald Everhart, a Pennsylvania native who recently retired from the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff after a career that began in 2004, is a prolific artist and medallic sculptor. His work includes designing and sculpting more than 1,000 coins, medals, and other objects over the past four decades. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the American Numismatic Association’s Sculptor of the Year award in 1994. He has said he plans to continue his artistic endeavors working on private commissions.

Mr. Everhart designed or sculpted more than 100 U.S. Mint coins during his tenure working at the Philadelphia Mint, where he rose to become the lead sculptor-engraver. From circulating coins to commemorative coins and Congressional Gold Medals, he has created designs for a wide range of Mint products and often sculpted them, too, and in other cases has sculpted designs prepared by other artists.

While the average person may not know the quarter in their pocket is Mr. Everhart’s work, numismatists and coin collectors who specialize in U.S. coins are well aware of his immense contributions to the field.

Some of the most well-known of his U.S. Mint works include several coins from the State quarter and America the Beautiful quarter series; the concave common reverse of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin trio; the reverse of the 2015 March of Dimes silver dollar; the obverse and reverse of the 2016 National Park Service $5 gold coin; the common reverse of the Presidential dollar coins, and many of the obverses; the reverse of the first-term President Obama Mint medal; and both the obverse and reverse of the second-term Obama Mint medal. log.)

His departure from the Mint creates an artistic void that will be difficult to fill. Only four on-staff engravers are left, along with outside artists, like Joel Iskowitz, who are part of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program (AIP). At the end of 2016, two other sculptor-engravers retired from the Mint. These shortages, when combined with the hiring freeze imposed on federal government agencies by the Trump administration, means the Mint may need to rely increasingly on outside artists.

Louis Golino: Please describe the process you use to sculpt a coin or medal you designed.

“Once I have my design,” Mr. Everhart replied, “I make a transparency and take a round blank that is eight times larger” than the coin will be, “and add a flat layer of clay that is half of the maximum relief… I then overlay the transparency and use tracing paper” to create an outline of the design, then “remove the paper and have the drawing on the clay.”

The next stage he calls “painting with light” because it creates very strong shadows that are useful for the relief. “Then I add and subtract clay. There is no set process, since it depends on the particular project.” Once the clay model is ready, “I then pour plaster on it and then 45 minutes to an hour later, [after it has dried,] I crack it open using razor blades.” This leaves him with “a negative image of what I have sculpted… Once I am satisfied with the negative image, I do the process all over again” to create a “positive plaster model,” which can be further refined if, for example, it is an architectural design with lots of fine details. “At this point I give it to the person who will create a die” used to mint the coin or medal.

LG: Which artists and sculptors have had a significant impact on your work, whether as part of your training as a painter, or later, when you worked with other artists at various mints?

Mr. Everhart explained that his years at the Franklin Mint, where he began as a layout designer, were when he really learned how to design and sculpt coins and medals. During his lunch, he would go and see what the 38 sculptors were doing.

Renowned artists Gilroy Roberts (the U.S. Mint’s ninth chief engraver, best known for designing the obverse of the John F. Kennedy half dollar) and Philip Nathan (now a British Royal Mint artist, best known for his work on the Britannia series) were two artists then at the Franklin Mint who really had an impact on him. He said that when he compared his own work to Nathan’s at the time, he felt there was a big gap that needed to be addressed.

In addition, several artists from the Brookgreen Gardens (a sculpture garden in South Carolina, which holds workshops where artists such as Heidi Wastweet have given instruction in bas-relief sculpting) and the Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles of art have been inspirations for him.

During his period at the U.S. Mint, he worked closely with former chief engraver John Mercanti. He says he especially enjoyed working with Phoebe Hemphill, whom he referred to as one of the “top-tier sculptors in the country.”

LG: Have you considered writing a book on your work and career, or perhaps putting together a pictorial gallery online?

He said it has been “suggested by several people that he do a book,” but it really depends on whether he is able to get a good offer, adding that he has “a good story to tell.” In addition, fans of his work will be pleased to learn that Mr. Everhart is putting together a website (still in the building stage) that will display his works—both U.S. Mint and other works.

Be sure to read the complete interview online. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Donald Everhart: An interview with one of America’s most prolific medallic sculptors (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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