New coin honors the many decades the women’s suffrage movement spanned
Women, your vote matters. And a new silver dollar coin will soon be a standing reminder of what it took for women to secure their right to vote. The U.S. Mint recently unveiled the design for the 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial Silver Dollar, celebrating the milestone 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
“This coin pays homage to the 19th Amendment’s adoption, and also honors the many pioneers, activists, and foot soldiers in the movement who fought bravely and tenaciously for decades to make the amendment a reality,” said United States Mint Director David J. Ryder.
The obverse (heads) side of the coin features overlapping profiles of three distinct women. Each woman is wearing a different type of hat to symbolize the many decades the suffrage movement spanned. The figure in the foreground is wearing a cloche hat with an art deco pattern and a button with the year of the 19th Amendment’s ratification. The inscriptions “LIBERTY,” “$1,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” encircle the design.
About the designer
Artistic Infusion Program Artist Christina Hess designed both sides of the coin. As an illustrator and painter, Hess has been working for more than 20 years on visual storytelling for publication and private commissions. As Hess says on her website, she illustrates from her “orange sherbet painted studio in south Philadelphia.”
She’s received many nominations and awards, including a silver award for self-promotional work in Society of Illustrators West competition. Her work was featured in the “The Point of Vision” show at the Society of Illustrators, NY, which celebrated women artists in the science fiction/fantasy genre. Hess’ artwork has been honored in publications such as Spectrum Fantastic Art, Imagine FX, Expose, and 3×3 Magazine‘s Pro and Children’s shows.
Her ongoing personal project, “Animals From History,” celebrates animals as historical personalities and features more than 25 characters. It has been featured on sites such as ABC News, Juxtapose, Mental Floss, Modern Met, and Jezebel.
About the sculptor
Both sides of the coin were sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, a medallic artist for the U.S. Mint. Hemphill has been called “one of the preeminent coin artists, sculptors, and engravers of our time.”
After graduating from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she studied for three years with sculptor EvAngelos Frudakis in Philadelphia. In 1987, she joined the sculpture department at the Franklin Mint, where she worked on many projects for the porcelain and medallic departments.
As a freelance sculptor, Hemphill displayed her creative talents working with various companies producing figurines, medallions, dolls, toys, and garden ornaments. Prior to joining the U.S. Mint’s team of medallic artists in 2006, she was a staff sculptor for three years with McFarlane Toys.
Hemphill has won many honors, including the Alex J. Ettel Grant from the National Sculpture Society and the Renaissance Sculpture Award from the Franklin Mint.
Honoring women then and now
The distribution of the coins will be, in part, an effort to celebrate women then and now. A $10 surcharge on each coin sold will be paid to the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative. It will fund the research and creation of exhibits and programs to highlight the history and impact of women in the United States.
The Smithsonian joined the U.S. Mint in announcing the new coin. In a statement, the Smithsonian said, “Giving millions of female citizens the right to vote profoundly changed our Nation by moving it far closer to its promise of inclusion and equality.”
The surcharges will also assist in creating exhibitions and programs that recognize diverse perspectives on women’s history and contributions.
Legislation from Congress has authorized the Mint to strike and issue up to 400,000 $1 silver coins. Purchase the coin and learn more at usmint.gov.
The U.S. Mint says the creation of coins combines art, history and culture. Learn how coins are made on the Mint’s YouTube page.
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Journalist and author Danielle Nadler grew up in South Dakota, where a patient writing teacher fostered in her a love for stories told well. She's worked for newspapers in the Midwest, on the West Coast and the East Coast, and recently launched a storytelling company called Tales and Ales.