Leif Ericson Millenium Commemorative Coins

Commemorative Coin Programs

Background

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.

Authorization Date

In the U.S., the coin was authorized on December 6, 1999.

Authorized Mintage Limits

Silver Dollar: 500,000

Silver 1000 Kronur: 150,000

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Recipient Organization: The University of Virginia and the Central Bank of Iceland

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.

Commemorative Coin Surcharges

Commemorative coin programs are created by acts of Congress to honor a person, place, or event. Surcharges from the sales of these coins help fund a variety of organizations and projects that benefit the public. Commemorative coins are only available from the United States Mint for a limited time, as specified by public law.

Characteristics

Story of the Design


U.S. Coin

The Leif Ericson Silver Dollar obverse shows a profile portrait of Leif Ericson, portrayed in the style of traditional Icelandic coins. Artist John 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 shows a Viking ship under full sail, coming toward the New World with Leif Ericson at the helm. Artist T. JamesFerrell 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.

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

Obverse Inscriptions

• LEIF ERICSON
• IN GOD WE TRUST LIBERTY
• 2000

Reverse Inscriptions

• FOUNDER OF THE NEW WORLD
• ONE DOLLAR
• E PLURIBUS UNUM
• UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Specifications

Both coins are 1.500 inches in diameter and weigh 26.73 grams.

Artist Information

Obverse
  • Designer: John Mercanti (Silver Dollar), Throstur Magnusson (Silver 1000 Kronur)
Reverse
  • Designer: T. James Ferrell (Silver Dollar), Throstur Magnusson (Silver 1000 Kronur)

Related Information

Content last reviewed June 1, 2016

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