US Mint Announces Design Competition for WW1 Commemorative Coin


WASHINGTON – The United States Mint is pleased to announce a call for American artists to design both the obverse and reverse of a silver dollar that will commemorate the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I. Authorized by law, the World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Design Competition invites American artists to design images emblematic of America’s involvement in World War I, with the winning artist to be awarded $10,000 and have his or her initials included on the minted coins.

“The World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Design Competition provides a unique opportunity for American artists to capture the sentiment and patriotism of the country nearly one hundred years ago while providing a tangible touch-point for future generations to understand and appreciate the impact of what was called ‘the war to end all wars,'” said Rhett Jeppson, Principal Deputy Director of the United States Mint. The public competition is being conducted in two phases. Phase One, which is open today through April 28, 2016, or until 10,000 entries are received, calls for American artists age 18 and older to submit portfolios of their prior work. From these entries, an expert jury will select no more than 20 applicants to participate in Phase Two. During Phase Two, artists will be paid a stipend of $1,000 to submit designs for the obverse and reverse of the coin, as well as plaster models of their designs. The winning artist will receive an additional $10,000 and will have his or her initials included on the coin as an artist mark. The final winner will be announced in January 2017.

An expert jury composed of members of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee will review and score design submissions. Both of these groups provide experienced and impartial expertise in advancing the state of public art and the interests of American citizens and coin collectors. With the winning design selected, the Mint will begin issuing commemorative silver dollar coins in 2018. Surcharges for this program are authorized be paid to the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars (Foundation) to assist in the funding of the National World War I Memorial in Washington. The Foundation also held a competition to design the Memorial with the winning design concept, entitled “The Weight of Sacrifice.” “This competition affords American artists a rare occasion to design a coin that will preserve an important time in American history and pay tribute to the bravery, actions, and sacrifices that were so critical to the final outcome,” said Jeppson. There have only been a handful of open design competitions in modern history in which the Mint has called upon the public to submit designs for a coin. Most recently, the Mint held a competition in 2013 for the design of the reverse image for the Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Program.

For full details on the competition, including rules of entry, visit the United States Mint website HERE.

Panel Selects Finalists for National WW1 Memorial Design

The statue of Gen. John J. "Blackjack" Pershing which stands in Washington DC's Pershing Park.

The statue of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing which stands in Washington DC’s Pershing Park.

An independent panel has selected five finalists from among the approximately 350 design proposals received by the US World War 1 Centennial Commission for a new national World War 1 memorial to be created in Washington DC’s Pershing Park.  The winning design will be announced in January 2016.

The location for the new memorial is Pershing Park located along Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets NW, approximately 1 block from The White House.  The park currently contains a statue of General John J. Pershing who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in World War 1.  A place on the National Mall for the memorial is not possible due to a National Park Service moratorium on new memorials there.

The request for proposals specified designs which could be completed for $20M-$25M.  According to DoD sources, the five finalists are: “Plaza to the Forgotten War,” submitted by Andrew Cesarz, Johnsen Schmaling Architects; “World War One Memorial Concept” by Devin Kimmel; “The Weight of Sacrifice” by Joseph Weishaar; “An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park” by Luis Collado, Jose Luis de la Fuente, Jose Luis Perez-Griffo, Ignacio Espigares, Marta Bueno, Shoko Nakamura, of STL Architects; and “Heroes’ Green” by: Maria Counts.

For more details, see the DoD press release here.

Wisconsin Plans for SS TUSCANIA Memorial


Torpedoed in the Irish Sea on February 6, 1918, the British liner-turned-troopship SS TUSCANIA, sank with the loss of more than 200 persons.  Aboard were American troops of the 32nd Infantry Division bound for France, along with two American Air Service squadrons bound for France.  Among the survivors of the sinking were 21 men from the city of Baraboo, Wisconsin who after the war formed a club known as “the Baraboo 21”, the last member of whom died in 2001.

Local area school teacher Steve Argo recently approached the city’s Parks Commission with a proposal to honor the memory of  “the Baraboo 21” with a bronze plaque within Baraboo’s Mary Rountree Evans Park.  City officials have agreed to the proposal and private fundraising for the estimated $100K project will evidently begin with the goal of completing the memorial in time for the 2018 centennial.

For more details, see the news article here.

Major WW1 Art Exhibition Travels to St. Louis

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Originally opened at The Getty Research Institute of Los Angeles the art exhibition “World War I: War of Images, Images of War” will travel to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis.  Opening at the Kemper Museum on September 11, the exhibition draws on the Getty Institute’s Special Collections, as well as significant loaned works, to present a unique examination of the visual culture of World War I through the eyes of contemporary artists.  The exhibit will run through January 4, 2016.

“World War I: War of Images, Images of War” seeks to demonstrate “the distinctive ways in which combatant nations utilized visual propaganda against their enemies and explores how individual artists developed their own visual language to convey and cope with the gruesome horrors they witnessed. Featuring the artists Umberto Boccioni, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fernand Léger, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Natalia Goncharova, Félix Vallotton, among many others, the exhibition contains 150 objects that represent a range of media, including satirical illustrated journals, print portfolios, postcards, photographs, and firsthand accounts such as a war diary, correspondence from the front, and ‘trench art’ made by soldiers. The work on view is primarily from Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the United States.”

Although the role of propaganda in World War I remained consistent with previous wars,” says the exhibition’s press release, “contrasting a self-image of cultural superiority with a vilified, barbaric enemy—a new dimension began to appear in this distinctively modern war of images. At the start of the 20th century, Europeans were navigating a course between the advancements of industrial modernity, on the one hand, and the loss of the traditional values and ways of life, on the other. Each of the countries in this exhibition represented their enemy as not just a military threat, but a threat to the very future of European civilization.”

American Helmet Painted in Imitation of a German Camouflage Helmet Ca. 1918 Robert McGiffin (American) Lent by Jane A. Kimball, Trench Art Collection

American Helmet Painted in Imitation of a German Camouflage Helmet Ca. 1918 Robert McGiffin (American) Lent by Jane A. Kimball, Trench Art Collection

A major focus  will be the contrast between the use of art as propaganda – the “War of Images” portion of the exhibition – and the reactions of individual artists and soldiers to the reality of war – the “Images of War” portion of the exhibit.   Also featured will be numerous visual objects which include “rare examples of handmade ‘trench art,’ such as helmets, canteens, and shell casings, by anonymous WWI soldiers, some of it made from the actual materials of war. During long stretches of extreme boredom—punctuated by intense violence—soldiers preserved memories of the units in which they served, the battles in which they fought, and images of soldiers and civilians whom they met by making souvenirs or personal messages to loved ones from discarded military detritus.”  The exhibition will conclude with a section titled “Aftermath” which examines “the trauma the war had caused in participants. Prints by Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, and George Grosz, and books by Fernand Léger illustrate artists’ attempts to come to terms with their experience of war trauma in the conflict’s aftermath. At a listening station, visitors can hear Dix recounting his experiences in the war, recorded in 1963. Dix served during nearly the entire war and was wounded several times. He returned to his wartime experiences almost obsessively in work produced throughout his lifetime.

For full details on “World War I: War of Images, Images of War” at Washington University in St. Louis, click here.



Australian Embassy Opens ANZAC Art Exhibition in Washington DC

Australian Embassy Logo

Celebrating the achievements of the Australian forces throughout their history, “A Century of Australian War Art” is a collection of 41 pieces from the Australian War Memorial now on display at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC. The exhibit opened in January 2015 and runs until June 1.

According to Australian War Memorial Director Dr. Brendan Nelson, the new exhibit in Washington “ marks 100 years since the ANZAC landing in 1915, a defining moment in Australia’s military history and our national story…..Conflicts depicted include both World Wars, as well as Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. Peacekeeping missions in East Timor and the Solomon Islands are also represented. The exhibition features Australia’s best known war artists, including George Lambert and Arthur Streeton.”

For more information on the exhibition, as well as visiting the Embassy of Australia, click here.


Memorial to Australian Horses Proposed

Sandy, the only one of the more than 100,000 Australian horses sent overseas in WW1 to return home.

Sandy, the only one of the more than 100,000 Australian horses sent overseas in WW1 to return home.

During the First World War, Australian troops fought in Turkey, the Middle East, and on the Western Front in Europe.  Over the course of the war, more than 100,000  horses were sent overseas from Australia serving as mounts for fighting troops, such as the legendary Australian Light Horse, as well as hauling artillery, supplies and casualties.

Of all the horses dispatched from Australia, only one, known as “Sandy,” ever returned home.  She had been the personal mount of Major General Sir William Bridges who died at Gallipoli.  Sandy lived until 1923, and since that time the memory of this sole survivor of all those sent overseas has been kept alive.

Recently, the Friends of Sandy organization has received a some $16K under an Australian WW1 centenary grants project in order to create a memorial to Sandy as well as the contribution of all of the Australian horses to the Allied effort in World War I.

For more information, see the story in The Weekly Review for Mooney Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Washington DC’s Pershing Park Officially to Become National WW1 Memorial Site

The statue of Gen. John J. "Blackjack" Pershing which stands in Washington DC's Pershing Park.

The statue of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing which stands in Washington DC’s Pershing Park.

Signed into law on December 19, 2014 by President Barack Obama,  H.R. 3979, the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, includes the designation of Washington DC’s Pershing Park as the United States’ national World War 1 memorial.

In the course of the past decade,  the lack of a national World War I  memorial in the nation’s Capital has generated a lively debate among varied points of view.  Some have suggested that the District of Columbia WW1 Memorial, located on the National Mall since the 1930s and recently restored by the National Park Service, be broadened to encompass the nation’s experience in “The War to End All Wars”, though residents of Washington DC, including Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, have been highly critical of these suggestions.  The passage of H.R. 3979 into law has now permanently shelved proposals to re-designate the District’s WW1 Memorial.

Plans for Pershing Park include landscaping improvements and augmentation of the existing memorial to Gen. John “Blackjack” Pershing with additional features honoring the American participation in the First World War.


English Author To Speak in Upstate New York on WW1 Novel

Author Elizabeth Speller

Author Elizabeth Speller

Novelist Elizabeth Speller will travel from England to Syracuse, NY, in March 2015 to speak on her 2013 novel The First of July (published in the UK as At Break of Day).  “CNY Reads One Book”, a program sponsored by the Onondaga County Public Library and various community partners, will host Ms. Speller on March 22 at the Onondaga County War Memorial.  Under the program, members of the public are encouraged read selected books and engage with the authors.

At Break of Day

The First of July is novel centering on four characters from widely different backgrounds who are brought together in France on the fateful morning of July 1, 1916 – the calamitous first day of the Battle of the Somme –  an event which, perhaps more than any other, shaped Britain’s collective memory of World War 1.  “This is a novel about bicycles and coffin-making, the heyday of the great London department stores, and a hospital run entirely by women” explains Author Elizabeth Speller.  “It explores French river navigation, church organs, pigeons, international politics and early film, and finds philandering, friendship, deception, duty, and the terrifyingly random operation of fate.   A story of a young century with old grievances and young men and women with plans and hopes. It is a journey through music heard as colour, and, perhaps inevitably, about doubt and love and loss. It is also about war. Specifically war on a single day: the middle day of the year in the middle year of the Great War. As July 1st 1916 unfolds into the worst ever disaster in British military history, the lives and hopes of four men collide over a few desperate hours.”

Elizabeth Speller has authored four books along with numerous poems.  To learn more on her writings, visit her website here.

To learn more on  the “CNY Reads One Book” program on March 22, see the story here.

New Book “The Lost Sketchbooks” Is ‘Time capsule’ for the American Doughboy Experience


A kind of visual time capsule, The Lost Sketchbooks: A Young Artist in the Great War, by Rex Passion, provides an extraordinary and previously unknown window into the experiences of an American Doughboy in the First World War. For some 90 years, the original wartime drawings and watercolors of artist and illustrator Edward Shenton, who went to France as a soldier in the 28th Infantry Division in 1918, had been locked away; recently rediscovered, they form the basis of this rich portrait of American participation in “The War to End All Wars.”

Harry Edward Shenton, Jr., was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania in 1895 and later grew up in Philadelphia. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he showed extraordinary talent as a sketch artist, and by the time he graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1916, Ed, as he was known, had served as the art editor, and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper The Western while enrolling in studies independently at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts. Joining the Pennsylvania National Guard after high school graduation, he found himself a member of 28th Division’s 103rd Engineers at the time of America’s entry into the war.

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Mobilization for war saw the 103rd Engineers engaged in training at both Camp Meade, Maryland, and Camp Hancock, Georgia, until sailing to Europe in the late spring of 1918. Before shipping out for training, Ed Shenton stocked up on sketchbooks and art supplies which he carried with him through his entire wartime experience through his return home in 1919. Throughout his service, he continually documented what he and those around him witnessed, producing hundreds of sketches and watercolor paintings which captured the life of the American Doughboy in all its facets – from the routine and humorous, to scenes depicting the shock and pity of war.


Once in France, Ed Shenton and the 103rd Engineers went into the front line in July 1918 at St. Agnan when the last phase of Ludendorff’s spring offensive was halted. Later that summer, Ed and his fellow Engineers operated in and around the frontline town of Fismes, building or repairing while under fire some 14 bridges that allowed troops, equipment and ambulances to access the front line. In the fall of 1918, they advanced with the American 1st Army in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive building and repairing roads and railways, and maintaining and camouflaging key positions in the American drive. After the guns fell silent on November 11, the 28th Division remained in France until the following spring. Throughout the first months of 1919, Ed drew scenes of local color showing rebuilding and recovery in war torn France, and reflecting the attitudes and experiences of the Doughboys waiting to return home.


After the war Ed Shenton’s remarkable collection of Doughboy art was of little interest as post-war Americans sought to forget The World War and the political turmoil generated at home in its aftermath. His sketchbooks – some cut in half so that he had been able to carry them in a uniform pocket in France – were carefully packed away, and Ed went on to a distinguished career that spanned some 50 years as an illustrator and author of numerous books and magazines. Through a fortunate connection with Ed Shenton’s son, Ned, author Rex Passion has been able bring to the light of publication, after more than 90 years, the remarkable drawings and paintings created by this soldier-artist during World War I. Carefully researching the history and of the 103rd Engineers, Passion was pieced together Ed Shenton’s Doughboy journey, writing a compelling narrative context for the selected artwork.   The Lost Sketchbooks: A Young Artist in the Great War is a genuine gift to Americans of today as they strive to connect with and understand the meaning and impact of America’s experience in World War I.

For more information, visit the book’s website here.


New Project Studies American Military Medicine in World War 1

American doctors administer anesthesia to a patient at Base Hospital No. 28, France, 1918.

American doctors administer anesthesia to a patient at Base Hospital No. 28, France, 1918.

Bringing together a team of physicians and historians, the Kansas City -based project Medicine in the First World War will shed new light on American medical developments in the context of the country’s mobilization in World War 1.

Our focus, is two fold,” says project founder George Thompson, consisting of “A narrative on Base Hospital 28 and a series of essays on First World War medicine. We think the essays section sets the site apart from those that exist on other American Base Hospitals because of the range of content and our strategy to invite essays to be added to the site.”

Base hospital 28 was created by the United States Army in 1917 and arrived in France the following year.  This 2,500-bed medical unit was staffed by doctors from Kansas City, MO, and treated over 10,000 patients during its six months in operation.  By researching and studying its operational history, the project will contribute to a greater understanding of American medical services during World War 1 and the medical advances which resulted.

Medicine in the First World War is a joint project of the University of Kansas Medical Center and the National World War 1 Museum at Liberty Memorial.  For more information, visit the project website here.