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Chief Engraver Elizabeth Jones

By Q. David Bowers, Co-Founder

Author: Q. David Bowers / Thursday, April 15, 2021 / Categories: From the Desk of Q. David Bowers

Elizabeth Jones stands tall as one of the most accomplished artists of the United States Mint. Born in Montclair, New Jersey on May 31, 1935, Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Vassar College in 1957, studied at the Art Students League 1958-1960, briefly at the National Academy of Design, and in Rome at the Scuola dell’ Arte della Medaglia (receiving its diploma in 1964). For 20 years she maintained a studio in Rome and exhibited there and in other countries, winning many awards and honors. One-person shows of her medallic art included two exhibitions in Brazil (1967) and five with Tiffany & Co. in the United States (1965-1968).

From the latter half of the 1960s and during the 1970s, Elizabeth created medals for various commemorative societies, foundations, universities, governments, churches, and the Nobel Prize organization. In 1966 she became a member of the Federation Internationale del la Medaille, participating in their biennial exhibitions. In 1967 she became a member of the National Sculpture Society which awarded her the Louis Bennet Prize in 1978. A member of the American Numismatic Association since 1966, she was designated Outstanding Sculptor of the Year and awarded their gold medal in 1972. Elizabeth Jones is also a charter member of the American Numismatic Society, which elected her a Fellow in 1990. In 1989 she became the first medalist to be honored with a retrospective exhibition of her work by the Italian State Mint in Rome.

Named chief sculptor and engraver of the U.S. Mint in 1981, Elizabeth Jones officially began her duties on October 28th. Her first memorable production was the obverse of the 1982 Washington commemorative half dollar, the first commemorative coin to be made since 1954. It has always been highly admired, with Washington depicted on horseback, reminiscent of the 1900 Lafayette commemorative silver dollar. She is perhaps best remembered for the obverse of the 1986 Statue of Liberty $5 gold coin. This close-up of the face of Liberty was acclaimed for its dramatic artistry.

During her tenure as chief sculpture and engraver she created two medals, the Ronald Reagan presidential medal and a portrait medal depicting Secretary of the Treasury James A. Baker, III. In her time Elizabeth Jones was a popular figure and appeared on occasion at conventions of the American Numismatic Association and other gatherings. I recall that she was amused to be asked to autograph paper money as such had nothing to do with coins.