On February 1, 2016, the United States Mint opened sales for the Mark Twain Commemorative $1 Silver Proof and Uncirculated coins. The silver commemoratives were originally supposed to go on sale January 14, the same time as the Mark Twain Commemorative $5 Gold Proof and Uncirculated coins, but the silver issue was delayed due to an error on the Certificate of Authenticity that needed to be corrected and reprinted.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) – the latter often called “The Great American Novel”.
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. After an apprenticeship with a printer, he worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to the newspaper of his older brother, Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his singular lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
In 1865, his humorous story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published. It was based on a story he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention, and was even translated into classic Greek. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act of 2012 (Source: PDF) gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to mint a maximum of 350,000 $1 silver pieces (including both Proof and Uncirculated versions).
Proof versions of the coin feature special laser frosting enhancements, labeled by the U.S. Mint as “Light-Plus”, “Standard” and “Heavy”.
Sale of the coins from the U.S. Mint supports the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut; the University of California, Berkeley; Elmira College in New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.
Filling almost the entire right side of the obverse is a mischievous-looking and sharp-minded portrait of Mark Twain, who appears to be relishing the reaction he is getting from his audience as he tells a tale. In his right hand he holds his famous Peterson pipe–surely a rare (if not unique) instance of smoking as depicted on a United States coin.
As the smoke leaves the bowl of the pipe, it transforms into a negative silhouette of Huck Finn and his friend Jim navigating the Mississippi River on a raft. Inscriptions include LIBERTY and the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The year of issue and the Philadelphia mintmark are found below the motto and to the left of Twain.
The various finishes and laser treatments on the Proof obverse include proof polishing for the field, “Standard” laser frosting for the rim, inscriptions and Twain’s portrait, and “Heavy” laser frosting for the scene from Twain’s novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
The obverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Chris Costello and engraved by Michael Gaudioso (View Designer’s Profile).
The reverse once again features Huck and Jim on a raft, but this time the duo are fully-rendered (though still viewed from behind). Jim points to a heavily-armored knight on horseback, which represents Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). Under the horse and to the left of Huck and Jim, a frog–representing Mark Twain’s first literary triumph, the acclaimed short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865)–appears to be leaping off of the coin’s surface.
The field of the reverse features proof polishing and the design motifs employ all of the Mint’s special laser treatments. Jim, Huck, the book they rest on and the jumping frog all received “Heavy” frosting”; The knight, his horse and the Mississippi River all received “Light-Plus” frosting”; while the rim and inscriptions received “Standard” frosting.
AIP artist Patricia Lucas-Morris designed the reverse, and United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon (View Designer’s Profile) engraved it.
|Year Of Issue:||2016|
|Mint Mark:||P (Philadelphia)|
|Alloy:||90% Silver, 10% Copper|
|Weight:||26.73 grams nominal|
|Diameter:||1.500 inches (±0.003) or 38.10 mm (±0.08)|
|OBV Designer||Chris Costello|
|REV Designer||Patricia Lucas-Morris|
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Mark Twain Silver Commemorative Coins Currently Available on eBay