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National Coin Week feature: A look at Portraits of Liberty

Portraits of Liberty: Icon of Freedom The National Coin Week theme for 2016, Portraits of Liberty: Icon of Freedom, specifically celebrates the centennial of three of the most highly regarded US coinage designs since the opening of the first mint in 1793. The “Mercury” dime and “Walking Liberty” half dollar of Adolph A. Weinman, and Hermon A. MacNeil’s “Standing Liberty”...


Portraits of Liberty: Icon of Freedom


The National Coin Week theme for 2016, Portraits of Liberty: Icon of Freedom, specifically celebrates the centennial of three of the most highly regarded US coinage designs since the opening of the first mint in 1793. The “Mercury” dime and “Walking Liberty” half dollar of Adolph A. Weinman, and Hermon A. MacNeil’s “Standing Liberty” quarter were introduced in 1916. For the first time, dimes, quarters and half dollars had different designs (check the photos at the end of this article.) Artistically, these coins reflect the neoclassical design preferences of the early 20th century.


Each day this week we will post an article on the United States coins whose designs are informed by, inspired by, or in some way support this year’s National Coin Week theme.

The so-called “Mercury” dime suggests the speedy wing-footed Roman messenger of the same name, but in fact, Weinman’s intention was to depict “freedom of thought” – note that he placed wings on Miss Liberty’s helmet instead of her feet. Ironically, the dime’s reverse side features the Roman fasces: a bundle of rods symbolic of authority. (“Fasces” is the root word for Fascist, a notion not top of mind in the contemplation of Liberty…)

National Coin Week - Liberty Coins   National coin week


Read more about special coins during National Coin Week on the Standing Liberty quarter.




  • National Coin Week feature: A look at Portraits of Liberty