Frank Gasparro

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Frank Gasparro Empty Frank Gasparro

Post by kosovohp on Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:40 am

Frank Gasparro (August 26, 1909 – September 29, 2001) was the tenth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, holding this position from February 23, 1965 to January 16, 1981. Before that, he was Assistant Engraver. He designed both sides of the Susan B. Anthony dollar, both sides of the Eisenhower Dollar (with the exception of the Bicentennial issue of 1976), the Lincoln Memorial reverse of the cent (minted from 1959 to 2008), and the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar.
Gasparro was born in Philadelphia on August 26, 1909. His musician father wanted his son to continue in the family profession and would rip up drawings he made out of frustration. His father ultimately relented and had Gasparro apprentice under sculptor Giuseppe Donato, who had earlier worked for Auguste Rodin. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and traveled to Europe with the aid of scholarships that allowed him to refine his craft.[1]

Image of the reverse of the Lincoln cent used from 1959 to 2008, showing the Lincoln memorial with Lincoln seated at the center and Gasparro's initials to the right of the monument.
He was hired by the United States Mint in December 1942 under Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock. Gasparro's first major successful coin design was his redesign of the reverse of the Lincoln cent as part of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, while he was Assistant Engraver at the Philadelphia Mint. Gasparro's design was selected from a group of 23 designs prepared by the Mint's engraving staff to replace the Wheat cent produced by the Mint from 1909 to 1958. His original design included the words "Lincoln Memorial" and 13 stars around the rim of the coin, which he removed at the request of staff at the Mint. Despite the complaints of his superiors, the design retained his initials to the right of the monument as well as the image of Lincoln seated in the monument, making it the first American coin to have the same likeness on both sides of the coin. Gasparro would often tell cashiers that he had designed the back of the penny and when asked what he had designed as a sculptor would reply "it's in your pocket". By the time of his death, Gasparro's design had appeared on the more than 100 billion pennies produced by the Mint.[1]

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