Dr Jonas Salk, polio vaccine pioneer, to be honoured on US coin

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06 December 2019
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The latest in the US Mint's American Innovation coin series honours the work of Dr Jonas Salk, who discovered and developed one of the world's first successful polio vaccines.

The Pennsylvania $1 reverse proof coin features a microscope and an artist's rendition of the polio virus at three different levels of magnification. Pennsylvania is just the second state to be featured in this series.

Dr Jonas Salk

Born in New York in 1914, Dr Salk was a student of the New York University School of Medicine, later being granted a fellowship at the University of Michigan.

His polio breakthrough came in 1948 when be undertook a project at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, heading a team of researchers in creating a successful polio vaccine within seven years.

Countries around the world bought Sak's vaccine, bringing to an end the large-scale deaths from polio that had characterised the first half of the twentieth century.

Coin details

The reverse design depicts an artist’s conception of the poliovirus at three different levels of magnification along with the silhouette of a period microscope, representing the extensive research that was conducted to develop a cure for polio. The inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “POLIO VACCINE,” “1953,” and “PENNSYLVANIA.”

The obverse design features a dramatic representation of the Statue of Liberty in profile with the inscriptions “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “$1.” The obverse also includes a privy mark of a stylized gear, representing industry and innovation.

The edge-incused inscriptions are “2019,” “S” mint mark, and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

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Finish: Reverse proof

Weight: 8.1g

Diameter: 26.49mm

To purchase the coin, visit the US Mint website.

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(report and image courtesy United States Mint)