On January 14, 2016, the United States Mint opened sales for the Mark Twain Commemorative $5 Gold Proof and Uncirculated coins.
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 100,000 $5 gold pieces (including both Proof and Uncirculated versions).
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.
Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Benjamin Sowards designed the obverse, which features a devilish-looking Twain accompanied by the inscriptions LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST. The year 2016 and the West Point mint mark ‘W’ are placed to the right of Twain. Sowards’ initials are found between the motto and Twain’s effigy. Mint engraver Don Everhart (View Designer’s Profile) sculpted the design; his initials are located next to Twain’s bow tie.
Another AIP artist, Ronald D. Sanders (View Designer’s Profile), designed the reverse, which features a steamboat paddling along the Mississippi River. The inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM and the face value of $5 are also included. Mint engraver Joseph Menna (View Designer’s Profile) sculpted the design. Sanders’ and Menna’s initials are found on the water to the left and the right of the steamboat, respectively.
|Year Of Issue:||2016|
|Mint Mark:||W (West Point)|
|Alloy:||.900 Gold; .100 Alloy|
|Weight:||8.359 grams nominal|
|Diameter:||21.59 mm (±0.08 mm)|
|OBV Designer||Benjamin Sowards|
|REV Designer||Ronald D. Sanders|
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