Throughout U.S. history, only twelve individuals have held the title of Chief Engraver. John Mercanti was one of these select few.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Mercanti displayed an early aptitude for the arts. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and later, the Philadelphia College of Art and the Fleisher Art Memorial School. After many years working as an illustrator, Mercanti joined the U.S. Mint in 1974.
During his thirty-seven year tenure at the Mint, Mercanti sculpted more than one hundred coin and medal designs—more than any other employee in U.S. Mint history. Some of his most notable designs include:
• The reverse of the 1986 American Silver Eagle
• The 1983 Olympic Silver Dollar
• The 1986 Statue of Liberty dollar coin
• 1989 Congress Bicentennial gold five-dollar coin
• 1990 Eisenhower Centennial silver dollar obverse
• 1991 Mount Rushmore five-dollar coin obverse
• 1991 Korean War Memorial silver dollar obverse
Mercanti also played a large role in the 50 State Quarters Program, designing the quarters for the states of Pennsylvania, Iowa, Arkansas, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
In 2006, Mercanti was appointed the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, a position he held until his retirement in 2010. The last individual to hold the title of Chief Engraver was Elizabeth Jones, who retired in 1991.
Mercanti is arguably the U.S. Mint’s most experienced and accomplished engraver. His prodigious career and spectacular talent delivered some of the most recognizable and resplendent coins. Mercanti has established himself as a master of design, and created a legacy that will forever resonate through numismatic history.