Coin Designer Joel Iskowitz Wins Award for Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal

Iskowitz Borinqueneers Medals

By CoinWeek News Staff ....
 

The prolific Joel Iskowitz, a Master Designer at the United States Mint, is responsible for over 30 coins and over 16 medals since joining as part of the Artistic Infusion Program in 2005. And, as of May 22, his design for the 2016 Borinqueneers 65th Infantry Regiment Congressional Gold Medal has won a gold medal of its own at the 2017 International Design Awards.

Career & Borinqueneers Gold Medal

Iskowitz has also produced over 2,000 postage stamp designs for more than 20 countries since 1977. Several of his paintings are in the United States Air Force permanent collection, the NASA Kennedy Space Center Museum and other military and historical museums. He has also illustrated numerous books and created designs for a wide variety of corporate clients.

In 2016, Iskowitz designed the obverse of the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal. It was his 12th design selected for use on a military-themed Congressional Gold Medal. The medal, authorized by Public Law 113-120 in 2014, honors a Puerto Rican army regiment known for its service and bravery during all of the major conflicts of the 20th century. The nickname "Borinqueneer" is derived from the native Taíno name for Puerto Rico. The design features a bust of a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant wearing a helmet, jacket and scarf like those worn by American soldiers during World War II and the Korean War. He also dons a trim, closely-cropped mustache, which was a dress code concession unique to the regiment as the Borinqueneers fought for the right to wear such moustaches because they are an important part of the soldiers' culture. His helmet features a Maltese cross on the right (his left), a symbol of the regiment that is also found at the beginning and end of the medal's inscription.

On the left of the obverse, three soldiers in diamond formation brandish bayonets as they reach the summit of a hill or mountaintop. The scene refers to several aspects of the unique culture of the 65th Infantry Regiment, who are credited with having conducted the last full-sized bayonet charge in American military history during the Korean War.

The inscription 65th INFANTRY REGIMENT encircles the entire top half of the medal, starting on the left side. Immediately under the first part of that inscription is the word BORINQUENEERS. The staff sergeant's portrait covers the "S" in BORINQUENEERS and part of the word "REGIMENT".

The crossed rifles of the 65th Infantry Combat Team are rendered at the very bottom. Iskowitz's initials "JI" are found at the bottom of the hill.

Mint sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill (View Designer's Profile) engraved and adapted the design; her initials are found on the staff sergeant's jacket, just beneath the collar.

2017 IDA Awards

Iskowitz announced his win via Facebook on May 22. His design won a gold medal in the Other Graphic designs, Professional category from the International Design Awards (IDA), an awards organization founded in 2007 by a group of designers and entrepreneurs to better honor multidisciplinary artistic design. Iskowitz himself is an IDA member.

He won a bronze medal in the same category in 2011 for his design of the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal, which honored Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, along with Mercury astronaut and late U.S. Senator John Glenn.

"I am honored and encouraged, and happy to see the 65th Infantry Regiment get some further recognition as well," Iskowitz said in his post to Facebook.

CoinWeek Podcast #42: Coin Designer Joel Iskowitz on the State of Modern Coins

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