John R. Deecken's Commemorative Silver Dollar

The development of the obverse of the
1992 Olympic Commemorative Silver Dollar issued by the U.S. Mint

Sales of the Olympic Baseball Dollar helped raise millions
for the Colorado training facilities of the '92 US Olympic Team. 

Mintage figures include 187,552 Denver edge-lettered uncirculated 'business' strikes 
and 504,505 San Francisco proof strikes.  Both issues contain 90% silver.




The four stages shown are (clockwise from the upper-left) the original sketch, the plaster model,
the final uncirculated Denver-only coin, and the final proof coin from San Francisco.

John R. Deecken's winning design for the obverse of this legal tender coin was one of several chosen by Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady in 1991 for commemoration and fund-raising for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. The 90% silver coin was minted at both San Francisco and Denver facilities, the latter featuring a unique finely reeded lettered edge with the words "XXV OLYMPIADE" four times incusely inscribed.  Note that this design contains "USA" three times (hat, uniform & logo).  The date was the largest on a U.S. Coin up to that time.  The 1994 Soccer Dollar is larger.  The layout was the first to be done on a Macintosh, by a professional typographer as well as illustrator.  The motto "In God We Trust" is one of the best executed with tight kerning and a subtle flaring of the serifs that is not seen on other coins.  "Liberty" spreads out at an equal arch to that of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar (also the modern American Eagle Dollar).  One would also find that the horizontal cut of the ground (pitcher's mound) is quite similar in position to the Gobrecht Dollar of the 19th Century.

Chester Y. Martin was the Master Sculptor of this coin (with many other coins and medals to his credit). John assisted Chester at the Philadelphia mint in sculpting some of the details of the 8-inch plaster model such as the hands, shoes, glove and pitcher's rubber.

Known on "the street" of the numismatic community as the 'Nolan Ryan Dollar', some controversy raged regarding the likeness of a living person depicted on a coin.  This was even the subject of a Jeopardy question in 1993...  Alex Trebec, looking for the answer (actually the question) "Who is Nolan Ryan?" stumped the panel with the $500 question "This future Hall-of-Famer was alleged to be depicted on a U.S. Silver Dollar last year."   Other's have said that their is an uncanny resemblance between the pitcher's face and that of the artist.

Current values range from $18 to $25 for uncirculated specimens and $20 to $29 for proof coins.  Certified PCGS MS70s and PR70s do exist and command a premium.  In addition, IGC and PCGS have issued special slabbed (certified) "Nolan Ryan" signature versions.  A "Designer's Signature" series was also begun by ICG for various modern coins with rumors which included a potential John Deecken signature version.  Two slabs exist with both John and Nolan's signatures. 

This is no affiliation between Deecken Studios and  Nolan Ryan, nor Deecken Studios and ICG, PCGS or any other professional coin grading service.
December, 2003.
 

john@deecken.com

Current values range from $18 to $22 for uncirculated specimens and $20 to $25 for proof coins.  Pictured below is one of several configurations the Mint used in it's marketing - the smaller box single-coin version with Certificate of Authenticity.  Other versions include the larger box single coin, several 2-coin configurations featuring Steven Bieda's 50-cent coin, several 3-coin sets featuring the additional gold coin in the series by Jim Sharpe and the excellent Premier Proof Set edition... featuring my dollar, Steve's half dollar along with the complete regular-issue proof coins (1c,5c,10c,25c & JFK half).  Many examples can be found on ebay.

Here are a pair of PCGS certified 'slabbed' specimens.

 

Treasury Secretary Nick Brady personally signed-off on the baseball design.

(Jim Sharpe, John Deecken, Rep. Gonzalez, Sec. Brady, Steve Bieda, esq., James Peed, William Cousins)