Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Retired United States Mint designer, sculptor, and engraver, Don Everhart, has finished his plaster sculpts of the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money 129th Convention medal. The medal depicts the bust of Pittsburgh area born environmentalist and biologist Rachel Carson.
The August 4th – 8th ANA Convention is in a state of uncertainty in light of the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ANA and the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) are moving forward with the convention medal regardless of the annual numismatic gathering’s fate. The medal will be produced in the sizes and metal compositions of previous ANA convention medals; 1.5” bronze, 2.75” bronze, and a two-medal set of 1.5” bronze and silver. Pricing will be announced at a later date.
The medal design came as a result of a December 2019 PAN board meeting when board chairman Donald Carlucci queried those in attendance with medal topic preferences. Previous ANA / Pittsburgh medals have depicted John Mercanti’s 1989 design of young Major George Washington overlooking the French advancement to the fork of the Ohio Valley prior to the French and Indian War, and Jamie Franki’s 2011 ANA-National Money Show medal of Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon obverse with a ladle pouring molten steel reverse. After some ideas and discussion, Carlucci presented a very compelling presentation as to why a Rachel Carson medal would be appropriate today.
Rachel Carson was born in 1907 and was raised by her parents in a four-room house on 65 acres in Springdale, Pennsylvania, along the Allegheny River. Her lifelong passion for the state of our natural world brought to the forefront man’s unintentional damage to the environment. One of her books, Silent Spring, published in 1962, created quite the awareness controversy. On June 4th, 1963, testifying before the United States Congress, Rachel Carson began:
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you this morning the problems of environmental hazards and the control of pesticides. The contamination of the environment with harmful substances is one of the major problems of modern life. The world of air and water and soil supports not only the hundreds of thousands of species of animals and plants, it supports man himself.
Ms. Carson’s voice took on the powerful chemical industry. These unsafe compounds proved to be a major cause of the rapid decline of the American bald eagle population because of their feeding habits within the rivers and streams. The chemicals also affected the viability of our national bird’s nest eggs that resulted in shell weakness that caused the eggs to crack and resulted in the continuing decline of the bald eagle population.
Mr. Carlucci’s convincing discourse about the extraordinary life of Rachel Carson had the PAN board members sold on the idea. The next step was to contact ANA membership Chairman Carey Hardy to acquire ANA approval. Initially when speaking of a medal subject, many questioned, who is Rachel Carson, and why, with so many Pittsburgh historical titans of industry, would she be selected? A George Westinghouse medal certainly could be a more popular choice. A few things come into play to understand why. Her tireless work had a profound effect on preserving our national symbol that graces much of our coinage. The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. Women are more involved in numismatics today than at any time in history including our ANA executive director and board members, owners, and managing partners of large numismatic companies, coin show coordinators nationwide, the creation of the Women in Numismatics (WIN) organization, to the increasing number of young girls participating in young numismatist programs nationwide. The recognition and increasing awareness of global climate change is something that Rachel Carson would have had a profound interest in today if she were still alive. The ANA readily approved the creation of a Rachel Carson convention medal and the next step was to find an artist.
PAN has had a very good relationship with Don Everhart. His skill at design and portraiture sculpting is uncanny with his ability to capture the essence, passion, and personality of the subjects. We witnessed this first hand when Don created the Pope Francis visit to Washington D.C. medal for PAN. The end result was perfect. PAN President Thomas Uram called Don and asked if he would be interested in designing and sculpting the Rachel Carson medal for the August ANA World’s Fair of Money. He readily agreed to the project and went to work.
Don Everhart’s enthusiasm grew as the project progressed to these beautifully finished plaster sculpts. He describes the obverse and reverse as such:
When designing the medal, I first re-read her book, “Silent Spring”. I had read it when I was in elementary school and definitely needed a refresher. As stated before, the pesticides negative effect on the air, land, and water was particularly devastating. My obverse design attempts to illustrate all three elements of the natural world most affected by the use of chemicals to eradicate pests. An eagle flies in the sky, a deer and fawn browse on vegetation on a farmer’s field while fish swim in a fast moving river. Her favorite butterfly, the Monarch, is perched on her name. A solemn but hopeful look is present on the portrait of Carson. I am sure she would still be unsatisfied and still be battling for our environment had she lived today.
For the reverse, I have depicted a bald eagle as it swoops down onto the water to snag a trout to bring back to the nest to feed her hatchlings. The American bald eagle has been a success story thanks to Carson’s unwavering efforts to make our natural world more safe and livable. In fact, I have witnessed many eagles on my bike while riding in Pennsylvania and beyond. It is always a thrill to witness this majestic bird in flight. They are unmistakable with their size and white head and tail feathers as they glide through the air. They are usually found near a water source, where its main diet consists of fish.
The American Bald Eagle deserves its place as our national symbol. To see one in flight is to witness one of the most majestic creatures to inhabit this precious earth that we all inhabit.
We are looking forward to the sale of the finished product and believe that the interest in this incredible lady will make this one of the most popular ANA Convention medals to ever be offered.
Press release courtesy of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists.