The centenary anniversary of President Kennedy’s birth passes us by while many more are still concerned learning about his death

Following the initial release of 2,891 documents previously withheld by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Thursday, October 19, the Internet went up in storm. While many are satisfied with this initial release of documents regarding the president’s assassination, the international non-profit transparency group WikiLeaks is offering a $100,000 reward for the remainder of the withheld documents, with founder Julian Assange calling President Trump’s delay on the 25-year-planned full release “inexcusable.” As an interesting example of cosmic irony, 2017 also happens to be the centenary anniversary of President Kennedy’s birth, and while the Mint has not yet produced any commemorative coins to celebrate this occasion, two individual citizens have taken it upon themselves to do so. Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) member Heidi Wastweet and former CCAC chairman Gary Marks cooperatively produced a 1-ounce silver medal to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the fallen president’s date of birth. While most of the country appears to be fussing over the details of President Kennedy’s death, it seems that only a few are bringing attention to his birth, life, and accomplishments.

Artist Gary Marks echoed exactly the same sentiment when I interviewed him by e-mail. “I feel JFK’s birth centennial went largely unnoticed by the American public,” he wrote.“My medal was my small contribution to raise awareness and to once again honor this great man.”

He also brought attention to the nature of this American tragedy and how it conversely inspired him to commemorate the president in a positive light. “When I realized about a year ago that the 100th anniversary of JFK’s birth would be on May 29, 2017, I knew I needed to create a silver art medal to honor this great American. His untimely death was a great tragedy and loss for America. It was the untimeliness and the loss of a great man that served as the central theme of my inspiration for the medal. I felt the empty profile in the center of the obverse was the perfect emblematic device to convey the sentiment that he was ‘gone too soon.’”

Current CCAC member and prolific artist Heidi Wastweet also shared her thoughts with me via e-mail regarding the creation of the Kennedy medal. “I was both thrilled and apprehensive when Gary invited me to work on his project. Excited because it’s a great design and topic, and because I enjoy working with Gary. Apprehensive because many other great sculptors have made masterful portraits of Kennedy in the past. I needed to honor the man himself as well as all the sculptors who came before me. Making a portrait of a public figure is especially difficult because everyone has their own idea of what that person looks like.”

The 1-ounce silver medal has a mintage limit of just 1,000 pieces and runs for $51.95 at “Gary’s Midnight Insomniac Art Studio” website.

Hover to zoom.

The obverse features an effigy of the president juxtaposed against his shadowy profile. Inscriptions read JOHN F. KENNEDY and BIRTH CENTENNIAL at the top, while the years 1917-2017 are displayed along the bottom.

The reverse displays a perched eagle with a quote by President Kennedy: “WE SHALL PAY ANY PRICE. . . TO ASSURE THE SURVIVAL AND THE SUCCESS OF LIBERTY.” Additionally, the inscription JFK can be seen below the quote, while 1 OZ AG is displayed underneath the eagle.

To any who possess a further interest in the popular field of Kennedy medals and commemoratives, The Kennedy World in Medallic Art by William R. Rice is one the foremost texts on numismatic Kennedy memorabilia. Kennedy medals are an extremely popular topic in the collector community to this day, which is exactly why it is shocking that so few have taken advantage of the coinage possibilities for the centenary anniversary of his birth. Perhaps due to our almost Victorian obsession with death, we’ll have to wait until 2063 to get more centenary anniversary medals of President Kennedy, but thanks to artists Gary Marks and Heidi Wastweet — we can enjoy an excellent centenary medal right now.

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  1. Fritz says

    I just went to the “Gary’s Midnight Insomniac Art Studio” website, and so no mention whatsoever of the Kennedy medal.

  2. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    Kennedy has been done to death. At some point it’s less about honoring the man and more about exploitation.

    There are some nice medals and rounds. These are not those.

    His Marksova Cat is a nice flight of fancy but not very good, really.

    The Liberty medal series is ok but nothing that interests me.

    The 2017 Liberty’s Force is pretty bad……..ugh….

    Heidi Wastweet did a Melania Trump medal which looks eerily similar to her Freedom Girl round.

    These are sorely lacking any inspiration.

  3. Jerry Diekmann says

    I would be interested in buying a couple f these medals if I knew how to contact the sculptors. The medal is certainly a lot nicer than anything the Mint has been producing, plus they didn’t even issue a coin on JFK’s birth centennial – I don’t count a 50th anniversary of a JFK coin be issued as much of a tribute to our 35th President. Oh, well, maybe next year – the Mint didn’t honor Jefferson’s 250th birth which was in 1993 until they minted a dollar coin in 1994. And they have never issued a coin commemorating Alexander Hamilton while they go ape with a gold medal and 5 silver medals for the 225th anniversary of the Mint – with the same design, mind you – different finishes are just a sales gimmick IMO, and Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and the Mint falls within that department. They can’t seem to get anything right anymore. I’m about ready to give up on them.

    And why would anyone waste their time doing a Melania Trump medal? Every time I see her she looks like a sphinx who would love not to be where she is now, as trophy wife to Trump.

  4. Buzz Killington says

    @Jerry D —

    I say this respectfully, but I’m not sure what the future of coinage needs is more tributes to the X anniversary of this-or-that founding father.

    As much as I like the Pd Eagle, I don’t think the recycling of classic designs is what we need either.

    We need something modern and distinctly American, and based on a significant and worthwhile theme. I think the Pt Eagles are the best we’ve got right now, but I’m not sure why new ideas can’t be incorporated into the Modern Commemorative Program.

    Truman and Eisenhower were forever vetoing Commemorative Coin bills in the 1950s — because the program was thinking too small. But since this area is surely NOT a priority for any recent Administration, we are likely to get more of the same. At least a start would be to ease up with these required design elements. How much money was wasted on edge inscribing the 5 ounce silver coins, just because that was put into the bill.

    If our government is destined to run like a business for the next few years, the least we should expect is the business sense of delegation to the people who know more, which was one of the things we were promised during the campaign, which has not come to fruition.

  5. Daveinswfl says

    Regarding Hamilton’s lack of recognition by the mint –
    I am also wondering how they would fail to recognize what a HUGE marketing opportunity the Broadway play presented. Hamilton’s importance paired with the fan base of the play equals a huge miss, especially for getting younger generations involved in mint products. The younger generations are just Gaga over the Broadway production!

  6. Louis says

    @Just Another Dave- Heidi has not done a Melania round. Gary Marks did one for his wife, which was sculpted by Heidi, which I believe is the one you are referring to. The Liberty series is excellent, and the JFK medal is better than any JFK world coin or medal I own.

  7. NCM Collector says

    I assume medal is sold out as it is not on the website. I like it. Very coin like in appearance.

  8. cagcrisp says

    2017 “S” update…

    MCM had a Flash Sale on Friday for 1 Hour for $79.00 for “Limit of 10 per Customer” MS69 2017 “S” ASE.

    Yesterday (11/04/17) an OGP packaging only for the 2017 “S” was sold on the bay for $5.99 (1 bid)…

    …SO…For $84.99 you’ve got a MS69 coin, break it out of plastic, put it in OGP packaging and you’ve go a coin just like everyone else

    On 04/29/17 I said I would Short an 2017 “S” OGP for $156.50 (bay sale from 04/28/17)

    …SO…I Could cover my Short at this $84.99 and have a Paper profit of 45% but Why would I with the Mint’s announcement that they will Again offer the “S” in “Summer 2018” and this thing will play out again?

    A Nightmare for the 2017 “S” Before this is Over and a Nightmare in 2018 Again.

    Rinse, Repeat…

  9. VA Bob says

    Jerry, buddy I gotta disagree with your comment on the reasoning behind a Melania medal. Personally, I’m not into any thing first lady related, no offense to the First Spouse fans, but I did pick up the bronze medals. Private issues, definitely a non-starter for me. I believe it is a little unfair to assume what is going on in the mind of anyone that swept into a political supporting role. What you wrote can also be said of Jackie O. She was a very private person, as we saw after JFK’s death, and she had to suffer through her husbands extra-curricular activities with a smile on her face while he was alive. The not so secret, secret. It did highlight he ability to take the high road, when she would have been justified to cry foul. I believe it is just too easy to paint the FLOTUS of any administration with the same partisan brush one feels for the particular POTUS. It happens on both the left and right. If they say something controversial, then yes, of course it’s on them.

  10. VA Bob says

    I am a bit surprised to see this blog deviate from US Mint products. When I came by, I initially thought I missed a new US Mint offering (not uncommon for me these days).

  11. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    I see neither Marks nor Wastweet have any formal training in art whatsoever.

    Both are/were CCAC political appointees from Idaho.

    If there is any question as to why US coins and medals are so abysmal, look no further.

    The hacks have taken over and it looks like they’ve taken over this blog, too.

    A strongly worded memo to the Treasurer might help.

  12. Numismatrix says

    I do own the IRELAND Mint’s release of the Kennedy coins (Au and Ag) which were very well done and a pleasure to behold. I did take a look at this medal but felt the dark silhouette was overdone and entirely unnecessary. My folks comments about the Kennedy Presidency ring in my mind : “It was filled with heartfelt optimism and grace,” something to be striving for in present times.

  13. Just Another Dave In Pa says

    Those rounds are more suitable as comic book art for people who think tattoos are neato.

  14. The Real "Cool" Brad says

    The reverse looks like someone tried to photoshop but used microsoft paint instead.

  15. cagcrisp says

    On another board there is a Thread “I’d like to start investing in silver slowly. Any advice”

    I was pleased with some surprising comments (there is some hope). Keep In mind that I didn’t read all the comments but I was heartened to the fact that on a more ‘numismatic’ board that there were as many comments that were sound financial advice.

    My observations (limited comments that I read) that I Liked were:

    1. A lot of suggestions to start with purchasing bullion ASEs as close to Spot as possible. (I didn’t read any suggestions to purchase pucks)

    2. AFTER you have fully funded you retirement accounts to the maximum, then consider precious metals

    3. Limit total precious metals to a maximum of 10% of a balanced portfolio

    4. Don’t purchase from the TV guys

    My personal position would be to not put more than 5%-10% of precious metals in a balanced portfolio and personally I lean more towards the 5% than the 10%.

    Currently I have 10.2% in precious metals (95% Gold, 4% Silver); however, I am building portfolios for others that I have yet to gift…

  16. Hidalgo says

    @cagcrisp – I collect world silver bullion coins as a hobby. I have a full annual sets of 1 ounce silver: China Pandas, Somalia Elephants, Australia Kookaburras, Australia Koalas, Perth Zodiac I and II coins, British Britannias, Canadian Maples (including a set of Maples with privys), and more.

    If I were to invest in silver, I agree – you should buy at or near spot prices. You can get much better deals if you purchase in larger quantities (vs. 1 ounce coins). And watch for trends and dips. Silver prices shot up today. However, whatever goes up, can go down. So determine the best time to make your purchases.

  17. Larry says

    Our buddy at HSN was selling the 2017 W UNC 1 OZ AGE for $4000 last night, saying it is the rarest of the 1 OZ coins. The 2012W has a mintage of 5829, the 2017 W has a mintage of 5853. So close, but no cigar. Did the mint catch a lot of folks asleep at the wheel, or is the demand just not there?
    What is kind of interesting is the 2017 1/2 OZ AGE proof has sold a whopping 1780 coins. Maybe the AGE series has reached saturation, after all who could actually afford to buy the whole series. I have one proof coin, and that is all I need.

  18. Buzz Killington says

    @Larry —

    I agree with this. Unless you are collecting the whole series, why would you need the one example in your collection to be the “rarest”?

    Thirty thousand is NOT a low mintage, but there are lots of people who would like a complete set of ASE coins, which is an achievable goal.

    Collecting a full set of proof AGE is NOT an affordable goal.

    I do prefer the ones with the Roman Numeral dates, for whatever it is worth.

  19. Mintman says

    When looking at mintage figures for the AGE proof gold be sure to add the 4 Coin set to the individual coin amounts to get the total

  20. Throckmorton says

    I wonder if our buddy at HSN knows about those last minute bulk 2017 W AGE one ouncer purchases. Did the rascal cop to exactly how many of these uber rarities he had for sale?

  21. earthling says

    IMHO people could care less about “rare” bullion. Most people could care less about bullion at all.

    Now lets talk about “cryptocurrency” – something real that you can sink your teeth into. Or Chicken Bullion… now there’s something worth running through your Keurig Machine.

  22. datadave says

    My comment on investing in silver. I agree with cagcrisp but I would add that if collecting a series helps you keep your investments on a regular schedule (like 10, 50 or 100 ounces per year), then it might be a good idea to consider as long as the premium paid is low. I guess you can do the same with the American Eagles each year, but it might be easier if you want to mix in something else in addition. The reason I would say this is that I believe in cost averaging my purchases by trying to keep up a steady buying rate and the new releases each year are almost like a reminder that it is time to buy again.

  23. Jerry Diekmann says

    CAGCRISP – and don’t forget, “S” mint proofs were all you could get from the Mint from 1986 thru 1992. There’s nothing all that special about an ASE “S” mint proof, but maybe the bloggers on this website didn’t realize that in the first years of production, the “S” mint was the only mint issuing proofs. And if they have it again next year, it could just be the beginning of another series of these proofs – there have now been 3 different series of ASE proofs, “S”, “P”, and “W”, and now it seems, back to “S” again. Maybe one day they will issue a proof ASE from Denver – for some reason Denver produces very few proof coins.

    Daveinswfl – regarding Hamilton on a coin, I couldn’t agree with you more. The Mint blew it big time by not honoring our first Secretary of the Treasury, especially with the publicity and praise that the musical “Hamilton” has been receiving. My oldest granddaughter, age 13, was able to see the production in LA last week – she has been a fan of Hamilton and this play ever since the musical was first presented .

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