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Rare Money Blog

q david bowers mint engraver james ferrell

Mint Engraver T. James Ferrell

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

Author: Q. David Bowers / Thursday, April 29, 2021 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers

Born in Clayton, New Jersey in 1939, T. James Ferrell graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he pursued studies in painting, sculpture, and graphics. Upon leaving art school in 1963, he worked as an artist on the staff of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin for six years. In the decade after his graduation he served as monitor of the Professional Artists’ Graphic Workshop at the Academy. He studied art at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania for two years.

Ferrell is a recipient of the Cresson European Traveling Scholarship, the Charles Toppan Prize for oil painting, and for four consecutive years the Lux prize and the Woodrow prize in printmaking. Many institutions and galleries have exhibited his work.

In 1969 he became interested in the new Franklin Mint and joined the staff of medallic artists there, working under Gilroy Roberts, who had earlier served as chief engraver of the U.S. Mint. After a very productive five years designing coins (for foreign countries including Panama, the Philippines, and Egypt) and medals, he became part of management but still worked with artistic concepts in the sculpting and design of hundreds of medals. During his 20-year tenure with the Franklin Mint, he developed an expertise and technical knowledge in the production of coins and medals.

In August 1989 he joined the Engraving Department of the United States Mint in Philadelphia where he sculpted more than 30 coins. One of his early projects was the creation of the Congressional gold medal honoring Jesse Owens, followed in late 1990 by the design of the reverse of the 1991-dated Mount Rushmore commemorative half dollar, and in 1991 by the reverse of the Korean War commemorative silver dollar.

He modeled five Washington quarters in the State Series and over 30 commemorative coins from 1990 to 2004. Some commemoratives include the 1992 Columbus Quincentennial commemorative half dollar obverse, the 1993 Jefferson 250th Anniversary commemorative silver dollar, the 1997 Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial gold half eagle obverse, the 2002 United States West Point Bicentennial commemorative silver dollar obverse, and the 2003 Wright Brothers commemorative silver dollar obverse.

While there was no chief engraver during this time at the United States Mint, T. James Ferrell’s light shined as brightly as that of a chief engraver. In 2002 the American Numismatic Association honored Ferrell with its Medallic Sculpture Award.

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