Engraver of the Week: Frank Gasparro

Eisenhower Dollar, Ike Dollar, Frank Gasparro

Eisenhower Dollar - Obverse & Reverse - Designed by Frank Gasparro

Frank Gasparro was the tenth Chief Sculptor and Engraver of the United States Mint. Gasparro held the position from 1965 until his retirement in 1981. During his tenure at the Mint, Gasparro proved to be incredibly talented, creating more coins in circulation than any other artist in history.

Gasparro was born in Philadelphia in 1909. From an early age, he displayed a natural aptitude for the arts. Despite his initial disapproval, Gasparro’s father sent him to study at the Graphic Sketch Club in Philadelphia, which later became the Samuel S. Fleischer Art Memorial. After completing his training, Gasparro apprenticed under sculptor Giuseppe Donato, who had been foreman of Auguste Rodin’s Paris studio. Donato and Fleischer later sponsored him at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. There, he earned two prestigious scholarships that allowed him to travel to Europe to refine his craft. In Europe, Gasparro became fascinated by Greek Art, a distinctive style that was later reflected in many of his designs.

After returning to the United States, Gasparro worked for the Works’ Progress Administration (WPA) and then as a freelance artist. In 1942, he was hired as a junior engraver at the U.S. Mint under Chief Engraver John R. Sinnock. Then, in 1942, Gasparro rose to become the Mint’s Chief Engraver.

Gasparro’s first major coin design at the Mint was his redesign of the reverse of the Lincoln Cent. For the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday, the Mint was seeking a new design to replace the wheat ears that had been on the reverse for 50 years. Inspired by classical Greek sculpture, Gasparro chose a head-on view of the Lincoln Memorial. His design was selected from a group of 23 designs prepared by other artists to replace the sheaf of wheat.

Kennedy Half Dollar Reverse - Designed by Frank Gasparro

One of the most challenging feats in Gasparro’s career was creating a design for the Susan B. Anthony Dollar. He was able to locate two photographs of the famous Suffragette—one at age 28 and the other at age 84. His first design focused on the younger Anthony, but feminist groups complained that the design made her look too pretty. Gasparro switched to the older photo, but Anthony’s grandniece felt the new image made her grandmother look too old and feeble. Gasparro’s final design featured a middle-aged Anthony. She appears focused and resolute. Mint staff were thrilled with this design, and Gasparro had become the only living artist to have designed both the obverse and reverse of a general-circulation coin.

Gasparro had a highly prolific and successful career. In addition to the Lincoln Cent and the Anthony Dollar, he also designed the reverse of the John F. Kennedy Half Dollar, both sides of the Eisenhower Dollar, the John Wayne Commemorative Medal (which was the Mint’s all-time best seller), and the obverse of both the 1995 and 1996 five-dollar Gold Olympic Commemoratives, as well as presidential medals for every president from Eisenhower to Jimmy Carter.

With a distinctive style rooted in classical sculpture, Gasparro brought a new standard to the art of engraving. His timeless designs have become an inherent part of American history, not merely for their popularity, but for their resounding impact as well. Gasparro passed away at the age of 92 in September of 2001, but his legacy lives on through his beautiful work

Find out more about this week’s Engraver of The Week: Frank Gasparro, and see the coins he engraved featured on The Coin Show Spectacular this Saturday, March 31st, at 10pm EST / 7pm PST on DirecTV channel 223, Dish channel 224 or watch live online at www.ArtAndCoinTV.com  

You Might Also Like...
Seated Male Nude, Marsden Hartley, 1923. Pastel on thin cream laid paper. Bequest of James Pearson Duffy. Detroit Institute of Arts.
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) recently received a generous bequest and rich art collection from James Pearson Duffy, one of Detroit’s most unorthodox collectors. Gift of a Lifetime: The ...
READ MORE
The ACTV Halloween 2011 Costume Contest Winner "Pirate" - As picked by our wonderful ACTV customers and viewers!
We asked and you answered! Thanks to all the ACTV customers and fans who voted. Hope you had as much fun as much as we did!
READ MORE
$3 Million In Gold Nuggets Stolen From Yreka Courthouse
Thieves in Yreka, Calif., made off with $3 million in gold nuggets Wednesday after breaking into the Siskiyou County Courthouse and smashing a glass case that contained a display on ...
READ MORE
Marcel Breuer architect for the Whitney Museum of Art in New York is shown September 27, 1966 in New York. AP Photo/John Lindsay.
The Archives of American Art has contributed more than 1,350 digital images, representing nearly 1,000 documents, to the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive available online at breuer.syr.edu. Launched March 23 by ...
READ MORE
Detail of a 17th-century painting in the Lama Lhakang, Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan. Image © The Courtauld and the Department of Culture of Bhutan.
The Courtauld Institute of Art announced the creation of a new MA programme in Buddhist Art: History and Conservation. Generously funded by an endowment of £2.5 million by The Robert ...
READ MORE
Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967), Raumlichtkunst, 1926/2012. Three screen projection: three 35mm films transferred to high-definition video, black-and-white and color, sound; 10 minutes, looped. © Center for Visual Music.
This summer, the Whitney Museum of American Art presents Oskar Fischinger: Space Light Art – A Film Environment, on view from June 28 to October 28, 2012. The exhibition is ...
READ MORE
Saphhire Necklace
The House of Fabergé is a jewelry company that was first founded in 1842 in Imperial Russia by Gustav Fabergé. The House specialized in making gold boxes and retail jewelry, earning ...
READ MORE
Lenbachhaus Gallery, Munich, Germany - Photo: Dominik Hundhammer, July 28, 2005
If you find yourself fortunate enough to visit Munich, Germany, chances are the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (State Gallery in the Lenbach House) has made your itinerary. This small museum ...
READ MORE
Detroit Institute of Arts Recieves The James Pearson
And The ACTV Costume Contest Winner Is…
$3 Million In Gold Nuggets Stolen From Yreka
Archives of American Art contributes to Syracuse University
Buddhist Art: New MA Program at The Courtauld
The Whitney presents Oskar Fischinger: Space Light Art
The House of Fabergé
The Lenbachhaus

Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in ACTV Exclusive, Coin Show Preview, Coins, Engraver of The Week and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>