Description and Analysis

Modern Commemoratives

Description & Analysis

The United States Military Academy, located at West Point, New York, was founded on March 16, 1802, and the 200th anniversary of this event was a natural theme for commemoration on a coin. The sponsors of this coin recognized the need for action early on, and the bill authorizing a silver dollar coinage was signed into law way back in 1994. Surcharges included within the sales price of each coin went to the Association of Graduates to provide for West Point’s “academic, military, physical, moral and ethical development programs.”

U. S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver T. James Ferrell designed the obverse of the West Point Silver Dollar. It shows a cadet color guard in parade, the academy’s Washington Hall in the background and the Cadet Chapel above it on a hillside. The dates of commemoration and striking are placed along the upper border, with the artist’s initials at eight o’clock. The usual mottoes complete this side of the coin.

Fellow U. S. Mint staff artist John Mercanti furnished the reverse design. It portrays the U. S. Military Academy’s bicentennial logo, in which the helmet of Minerva, goddess of war, is superimposed over a sheathed sword. These elements are enclosed within a plain circle, accompanied by statutory legends. Outside the circle is inscribed the dates of commemoration and coining, as well as the words “WEST POINT BICENTENNIAL” divided by two stars. The coin’s mintmark is seen to the left of Minerva’s helmet, with the designer’s initials beneath the tip of the sword’s sheath.

Naturally, the West Point Mint produced both the proof and uncirculated editions of this silver dollar, the mint being located within the academy grounds. Offered for sale for a full year commencing March 16, 2002, the West Point Silver Dollar was a good seller. The combination of an appealing theme, better than average designs and a general increase in the popularity of current United States coins was enough to boost sales well above those of most other recent commemoratives.