The Life of Adolph Weinman

Adolph A. Weinman was an important early-20-century artist. His name has been studied for decades because of his contributions to medals and coinage. His prolific body of work is an incredible display of artistry in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Weinman apprenticed with the famous Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the designer of the Double Gold Eagle $20 Gold coin. Weinman is known as more than just the designer of the Mercury Dime and Walking Liberty. His work is displayed in several monuments and museums around the country today. 

He is also known as a medalist and sculptor with a tremendous portfolio. His life as an artist is a testament to the multifaceted education and training he received. 

Weinman was born in Germany in 1870. At 10 years old, Weinman moved to the United States and developed a talent for artistry including modeling, engraving, carving, sculpting and drawing. At 15 years old, he became the youngest apprentice to Frederick Kaldenberg, a Saint-Gaudens collaborator, to develop his skills in the various artistic ventures he pursued.

He devoted his early career to carving smaller objects like smoking pipes and mirror frames. This training led him to a path of earning commissions from prominent organizations like the Commission of Fine Arts. His early success as an artist earned him admission to the Arts Students League of New York, where he would meet and later collaborate with Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 

Weinman's career took him to many parts of the world, but he made his mark as a medalist and sculptor in the United States. He served as president of the National Sculpture Society and served on the Commission of Fine Arts. Some of his best work outside the Walking Liberty design and the Mercury Dime include prominent displays for their time and today.

  • Large Eagle, National Zoo in Washington, D.C. This was salvaged from Penn Station in New York.
  • Descending Night (1914 to 1915). Weinman was commissioned by the Commission of Fine Arts to work on the iconic architecture at the Panama-Pacific International Expo. 
  • Abraham Lincoln Statue in Hodgenville, Kentucky (1909). This is prominently displayed in the town square. 
  • Medals for the United States Military. He designed many reverse designs for various campaigns including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign and the American Campaign. 

Adolph Weinman's career was characterized by his attention to detail. He developed a diverse portfolio that many artists, numismatists and historians study today. His work in the numismatic field, designing the Walking Liberty and Mercury Dime, is a lasting testimony in the field of coinage. Without his contributions in other areas of art, the Walking Liberty coins and Mercury Dime may not have existed. 

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