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Iskowitz Lays Claim to First Liberty/Britannia Coin

Published March 7, 2024 | 2 min read

By Louis Golino

The 2024 Liberty-Britannia coin program, released in February, was billed by the United States Mint and the Royal Mint as the first-ever pairing of the two nations’ iconic numismatic allegories. 

However, Joel Iskowitz, who designed 54 coins for the U.S. Mint and worked extensively for private mints that issue coins for Commonwealth countries, points out that he was actually the first artist to design a coin that paired the two motifs on the same coin.  

As he recently told the ANA, his 2015 Liberty and Britannia silver crown issued by the Bradford Exchange Mint for the British territory Tristan da Cunha was the first coin to combine these allegorical figures on a legal-tender issue. Like the recent U.S. Mint-Royal Mint program, it was designed to celebrate the long-standing relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

Iskowitz added, “I would like to commend this 2024 effort and salute the collaboration of the two great world mints and the work of both chief engravers.”

He took inspiration from World War I recruitment posters he had seen that paired Liberty and Britannia. The design shows the two figures reaching across the Atlantic Ocean to grasp each other’s hands while perched on rocks. The Liberty figure appears next to a bald eagle, while Britannia appears next to a lion while wearing a Corinthian helmet.

As Iskowitz told Coin World in 2015, the two are “reaching out across an ocean expanse, a cultural expanse, in friendship.” He also noted that his Liberty is different from the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty on our paper currency and that it was influenced by the great designers of the past like Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Adolph Weinman.

It is also noteworthy that the design pairs the eagle and the lion together, as does the 2024 Royal Mint release that U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti designed.

Artist Bio

From 2005 to 2017, Iskowitz designed coins and medals for the U.S. Mint as a member of the Artistic Infusion Program, which included circulating, precious metal, and commemorative coinage.

His work for British and Commonwealth coinage is equally extensive. It also includes more coinage firsts for this remarkable artist. He was the first American to portray the late Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother, and Prince William on Buckingham Palace-approved coinage.

Iskowitz also designed World War I and World War II coins for the United Kingdom and participated with Royal Mint coin designer Jody Clark in programs honoring Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

His current work includes multiple commemorative coin series for the East India Company in London issued for the British territory St. Helena, such as last year’s Boston Tea Party 250th anniversary coins.