skip navigation
Standard View

2000 LEIF ERICSON MILLENNIUM COMMEMORATIVE COINS FACT SHEET

Availability For Purchase
The coins were available for purchase from the U.S. Mint from June 21, 2000, through February 28, 2001.

What the Coins Commemorate
The coins were authorized to commemorate the millennium of the New World's discovery by the Viking Leif Ericson.

Leif Ericson
Leif Ericson, the oldest son of Eric the Red, became the first European to set foot on North America after he outfitted ships to follow the route of trader Bjarni Herjulfsson, who came back with tales of the beautiful land he had seen when he was blown off course. Leif Ericson came to the New World in much the same way -- blown off course when he traveled from Norway to Greenland in 1000 A.D.

Ericson found farmland rich in timber and waters swimming with salmon. He first came upon what is now Labrador, then established a camp in Newfoundland, and finally, arrived in what could have been northern Newfoundland or even Cape Cod and gave it the name "Vinland."

The Native Americans fiercely resisted settlement by the Vikings and within a year of his momentous discovery, Ericson abandoned Vinland and returned to Greenland.

The U.S. and Iceland each authorized their own coin in this two-coin set to mark the millennium of Ericson's discovery of the New World. These are the first modern era legal tender silver commemorative coins released jointly by the United States and any other country.

Story of the Design
U.S. Coin
The Leif Ericson Silver Dollar obverse, designed by John Mercanti, shows a profile portrait of Leif Ericson, portrayed in the style of traditional Icelandic coins. Mercanti designed the 2000 Library of Congress Bimetallic Ten Dollar obverse and Silver Dollar reverse, and the obverse designs for the George H. W. Bush and the Hubert Humphrey medals. He also designed the Bicentennial of the Congress Gold Five Dollar; the Eisenhower Silver Dollar obverse; the Mount Rushmore Gold Five Dollar obverse; the Korean War Silver Dollar obverse; the 1991 USO Anniversary Silver Dollar obverse; and two of the 1995 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Silver Dollar obverses (track & field and cycling).

The reverse, by T. James Ferrell, shows a Viking ship under full sail, coming toward the New World with Leif Ericson at the helm. Ferrell also designed the obverse and reverse of the Ruth and Billy Graham Congressional Gold Medal; the Mount Rushmore Clad Half Dollar reverse; the Christopher Columbus Gold Five Dollar obverse; the Thomas Jefferson Silver Dollar obverse; the 1995 Civil War Clad Half Dollar reverse; the Franklin D. Roosevelt Gold Five Dollar obverse; and the Jackie Robinson Silver Dollar reverse.

Icelandic Coin
The Leif Ericson Silver 1000 Kronur, designed by Icelander Throstur Magnusson, shows an interpretation of the Stirling Calder statue of Leif Ericson on the obverse. The statue was given to the Icelandic government in 1930 by the United States to commemorate the millennium of the Iceland parliament. The reverse of the coin shows a stylized drawing of the Icelandic Coat of Arms, representing the country's four guardians: the eagle, the dragon, the bull and a giant. The guardians stand watch over the north, west, east, and south of Iceland.

This is one of several commemorative coins Throstur Magnusson has designed for the Central Bank of Iceland. Magnusson has designed about 180 stamps, and his stamp designs have won "The Most Beautiful Icelandic Stamp of the Year" every year from 1986 to 1992.

Specifications About the Coins
Both coins are 1.500 inches in diameter and weigh 26.73 grams.

Design Theme on Obverse
Silver Dollar: A portrait of Leif Ericson;
Silver 1000 Kronur: An image of Stirling Calder's famous sculpture of Ericson.

Design Theme on Reverse
Silver Dollar: Ericson's Viking ship under full sail
Silver 1000 Kronur: The eagle, the dragon, the bull and the giant from the Icelandic Coat of Arms

Artists/Designers/Sculptors/Engravers
Silver Dollar: John Mercanti, obverse; T. James Ferrell, reverse
Silver 1000 Kronur: Throstur Magnusson

Place Minted
Silver Dollar: Philadelphia, PA ("P" Mint Mark)
Silver 1000 Kronur: Philadelphia, PA (No Mint Mark)

Authorization Date
In the U.S., the coin was authorized on December 6, 1999, by Public Law 106-126.

Year(s) on Coins
2000

Authorized Mintage Limits
Silver Dollar: 500,000
Silver 1000 Kronur: 150,000

Group/Cause Benefited By Coin Sale
Ten dollars from each coin sold benefits the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation for the purpose of funding graduate-level student exchanges between the United States and the Republic of Iceland. The foundation, which promotes the advanced study of Iceland's history; culture; literature; science; law; business; medicine; and technology, is a joint venture between the University of Virginia and the Central Bank of Iceland.

st-4