Description and Analysis

Modern Commemoratives

Description & Analysis

Americans have never been big fans of soccer, or international football. While it is viewed as a healthy activity for kids, this sport has not achieved the intense following here that it possesses in much of the world. Nevertheless, it was hoped that the awarding of the XV FIFA World Cup tournament to the United States in 1994 would enhance American participation. In recognition of this honor, Congress authorized the United States Mint to produce a set of three commemorative coins bearing that date. This set consists of the familiar lineup used successfully for several previous programs-a copper-nickel-clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a gold half eagle. These coins share a common reverse designed by artist Dean McMullen that is dominated by the World Cup USA logo. This features a stylized United States flag in which the block of stars is replaced by a soccer ball in motion. Above the flag is the inscription "WorldCup USA94" in two lines, and this central device is flanked by olive branches at either side. The coin's mintmark appears to the right of the right hand branch, with the balance of this side consisting of statutory legends. The obverse of the half dollar depicts a soccer player running and advancing the ball. His figure is superimposed over the date 1994, with the initials of designer Richard T. LaRoche and the U. S. Mint's John Mercanti appearing along the border at seven o'clock. Statutory mottoes complete this side. The silver dollar's obverse illustrates two soccer players jostling for possession of the ball, with the date of coining at right. The initials of designer Dean McMullen and Mint Sculptor-Engraver T. James Ferrell are visible to the left and right, respectively, of the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" along the lower border. Arcing across the top of the obverse is "LIBERY," the letters divided by stars. The gold half eagle has as its sole device the World Cup trophy itself. This is flanked by statutory mottoes, with the date of coining at the bottom and the initials of designer William J. Krawczewicz and the U. S. Mint's sculptor near the border at four o'clock. The uncirculated editions of both the half dollar and dollar were struck at the Denver Mint, while Philadelphia and San Francisco produced their proof counterparts, respectively. As was the norm for modern commemoratives, the U. S. Mint at West Point, New York coined both editions of the gold half eagle. Sales of these coins were respectable but not outstanding, despite inclusion of the World Cup Half Dollar within the 1994 Prestige Proof Set. The fact that roughly similar numbers of each coin were being sold for the various commemorative programs of these years suggests that there existed a core population of regular buyers, regardless of the coins' themes or worthiness as works of art. For this particular program, however, it's likely that sales to Europeans and other non-USA buyers comprised at least part of the net mintages.