Numismatists often point out that John Mercanti, 12th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, holds the record for designing the most U.S. coins, with at least 100 coins. However, former U.S. Mint artist Don Everhart has designed and sculpted numerous U.S. Mint coins, rivaling Mercanti’s record output.
Everhart has designed and sculpted an impressive 1,500+ coins and medals throughout his career. His resume includes work for various world and private mints, and numerous sculptures and other objects.
In 2017, he retired as the Mint’s lead sculptor-engraver after an amazing 14-year career. However, since retiring, he has continued designing and sculpting for the Mint at the same pace. As an active member of the prestigious Artistic Infusion Program, Everhart collaborates with Mint staff to design U.S. coins.
Since leaving the Mint, Everhart has recently contributed designs for reverses of the 2018 WWI Centennial Silver Dollar, and the 2022 Negro Leagues Silver Dollar, in addition to several silver military medals. Most notably, however, he is credited with designing the common reverse for the American Platinum Eagle used from 2018 to 2020.
Artistic Roots and Early Influences
Everhart’s story began in Pennsylvania, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Kutztown State University in 1972. He then went on to work at the Franklin Mint from 1975 to 1980. He began his tenure as a layout designer before he became a sculptor.
At the Franklin Mint that he collaborated with many talented artists. One artist was Philip Nathan, who later became a renowned coin designer and engraver for the Royal Mint. Gilroy Roberts, 9th Chief Engraver for the U.S. Mint, also worked alongside Everhart at the Franklin Mint. Roberts is notably responsible for designing the obverse of the Kennedy Half Dollar.
Everhart has stated that he was able to hone and develop his skills by working with people like Nathan and Roberts. He credits both men as being key influences in his work. He has also mentioned drawing inspiration from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles that were popular in France just before WWI. Furthermore, sculptures of fellow member of the Artistic Infusion Program Heidi Wastweet were also inspirational.
After his tenure at the Franklin Mint, he began working as a freelance artist, taking on various commissions. In 2004, he began designing and sculpting for the U.S. Mint, where he worked closely with Mercanti and Phebe Hemphill—a medallic sculptor whose work he greatly admires.
Everhart calls himself a “literal and figurative” artist when asked to describe his artistic style. He says his favorite themes are nature, animals, and portraits or profiles. However, he considers the latter of the three to be his strong suit, designing multiple coins for the Presidential Dollar series. He crafted coins for presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and many others.
In addition, he has created several designs for the State Quarters and America the Beautiful Quarters. As well as commemorative coins, Congressional Gold Medals, and Secretary of the Treasury Medals. He also crafted official inaugural medals for Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, which he considers one of his favorite projects.
Some of his best-known work for the Mint includes designing and sculpting the common reverse of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame half dollar, silver dollar, and $5 gold coin. His work on these coins received a 2016 Coin of the Year Award from Krause Publications. He also designed the reverse of the 2015 March of Dimes Silver Dollar, which won a 2017 Coin of the Year Award for most inspirational coin.
Recognition and Diverse Commissions
In November 2017, he joined the NGC signature label group of prominent numismatic personalities who hand sign certification labels. In 2018, he won a Lifetime Achievement Award during the World Money Fair in Berlin. He also received many other awards such as Sculptor of the Year in 1994 from the American Numismatic Association.
Among his private commissions is a medal of Pope Francis created for the Pope’s visit to the U.S. in 2015 for the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. Another is the 2020 medal for American Numismatic Association’s World Fair of Money, featuring renowned environmentalist Rachel Carson. He also created medals for the Medallic Art Company’s Society of Medallists collection.
Perhaps most impressive among his sculptural works is his 24-piece installation for Georgetown University’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Most artists who create coins tend to be either coin designers or engravers/sculptors who work on designs others create. However, Everhart is part of a rare breed of numismatic geniuses who can do both. He has created an incredible body of beautiful medallic works and sculptures in his remarkably prolific career.
Most his work is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution, the British Museum, the American Numismatic Society and the National Sculpture Association, where it will continue to inspire and be admired for a long time.