(Washington, D.C.)—On January 17, President Barack Obama received official bronze medals depicting each of his two terms in office. During a brief ceremony in the Oval Office, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin and U.S. Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson presented medals featuring the president’s portrait on the obverse and portions of memorable speeches delivered during his presidency on the reverse.
“It has been a privilege to serve President Obama over these last eight years and to have witnessed his leadership up close,” Secretary Lew said. “His historic presidency has improved the lives of millions of Americans and the medals presented today are just one way that his legacy will be honored.”
Presidential medals represent a custom of honoring each president of the United States with an official medal for each term in office. Presidents who serve more than one term are traditionally honored with two medals, one highlighting each term. Since the 1960s, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, all presidents who served more than one term have received two medals. Each medal measures three inches in diameter and weighs approximately nine ounces.
“The medals presented to President Obama ensure that a long-standing tradition of honoring our presidents remains unbroken,” said Jeppson. “Designed, sculpted, and struck by the men and women of the U.S. Mint, the medals institutionalize his legacy in a tangible and historical form alongside those leaders who preceded him—from Washington to present.”
Also participating in the ceremony were Elisa Basnight, chief of staff of the Mint; Don Everhart, lead sculptor of the Mint; and Phebe Hemphill, Mint medallic artist. Everhart sculpted the reverse of the first-term medal and designed and sculpted both the obverse and reverse of the medal honoring the president’s second term. Hemphill sculpted the obverse of the first-term medal.
As with other presidential medals, bronze replicas are available to the public. The collector versions of the medals are dated 2017 and are minted in Philadelphia, but without a mintmark. Each medal’s obverse features a portrait of President Barack Obama with his name inscribed around the field; the reverse design for each medal features a quotation and is surrounded by 50 stars.
The first-term medal (item 148), with an obverse designed by Richard Masters, depicts the president in three-quarter profile to the left. The quotation on the reverse (designed by Don Everhart), beneath the Presidential Seal, reads:
IS NOT WRITTEN
IT IS WRITTEN
Following the quotation, in smaller letters, is the date of President Obama’s inauguration, JANUARY 20, 2009, with a facsimile of the president’s signature below.
The second-term medal (item 149), both sides of which were designed by Don Everhart, depicts the president in profile to the left. (The president is noticeably more mature than on the first medal.) The reverse quotation is in two parts, with the first part centered below a depiction of the White House:
IS THE WORD “WE.”
The quotation is continued in smaller text around the border of the field, above the White House: WE THE PEOPLE. WE SHALL OVERCOME. YES WE CAN. An additional inscription beneath the White House reads, JANUARY 20, 2013, the date of President Obama’s second inauguration.
About the United States Mint
The United States Mint was created by Congress in 1792 and became part of the Department of the Treasury in 1873. It is the nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage and is responsible for producing circulating coinage for the nation to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint also produces numismatic products, including Proof, Uncirculated, and commemorative coins; Congressional Gold Medals; and silver and gold bullion coins. The United States Mint’s numismatic programs are self-sustaining and operate at no cost to taxpayers. ❑
Press release courtesy of the United States Mint; additional information about the medals added by Coin Update.