YoloBagels's Blog

15 Feb 2020

John M. Reich | A Legend In US Coinage

Coins | YoloBagels

John Matthias Reich was the Assistant engraver for the US mint under Chief engraver Robert Scot. His works included some of the most highly-collected coins within the US coinage series. His most notable designs are the Capped Bust types, of which all silver denominations of US coinage took on at the time, and the series lasted from 1807 through 1839.

Reich was born in Furst, Bavaria in the year 1768 (shoutout to all my German states coinage collectors). His father, Johann Christian Reich, tutored him in the skill of engraving and medal-making during John Reich’s time in Southern Germany. After the American Revolutionary war and once political unease had settled in the United States, Reich made the decision to move to the US. He would continue to live in America until President Thomas Jefferson expressed interest in Reich’s engravery. In 1807 he was referred to Chief engraver of the US Mint, Robert Scot, who was the designer of the famed Draped Bust type coinage.

Working as the Assistant Engraver of the Mint under Scot, Reich did not receive the same amount of praise and pay as the amount of work that he put in. He would go on to make many beautiful coin designs and types until his resignation in 1817. Reasons for his resignation are still unclear but it is believed to be because of ten years with no pay raise or added benefits, as well as Robert Scot’s neglect and refusal to give praise to John Reich for his works. Reich would continue to live in retirement from the mint until the year 1833 when he died due to unknown causes.

His most popular work in numismatics is considered to be the slightly varying designs on the silver coinage of the dime through the half dollar. This is simply known as the capped bust type and on all designs features a large-busted Lady Liberty encircled by thirteen six-pointed stars and the date of the coin at the bottom. The reverse of this design has a very elegant eagle with a shield on its torso and the classic oak branch with arrows in its talons. Reich also made quarter eagle and half eagle gold coins of this type with slight modifications to the design.

The capped bust coins designed by Reich command quite a heavy premium, with the lowest-graded and most damaged examples usually selling for over 75 times face value as opposed to the regular 12x-15x face we see on common constitutional silver coinage seen today. The same cannot be said for his gold coinage, however, which in today’s market pieces usually sell for several thousands of dollars due to the low mintages that gold coins faced in this era. The capped bust half dollars are especially regarded and collected for their Overton varieties, which are identified by small details that differ on coins of different varieties. Most dates have multiple varieties.

In conclusion, John M. Reich led a difficult life in which he captivated the old American dream of immigrating to the US and indulging in a career that would have his work celebrated for hundreds of years to come. Thank you for reading,

Chris A.






Level 6

I enjoyed your blog. Learned some things I didn't know ; ) Thanks for the history lesson.


Level 6

Nice, informative blog. I am a fan of the Bust designs. Be great to see a new issue. Thanks.


Level 5

Good blog! I must confess, I did not know much about John M. Reich besides his name. Variations of his shielded eagle reverse continued on the reverse of quarter eagles, half eagles, and eagles through the early 1900s.


Level 6

An iconic design. I would like to see new design based on the classic designs.


Level 7

That would be a great idea. I know you and others including my self are a little worried. I hope they do a good job but don't go overboard. I'm afraid of some designs we will see. Time will tell. Thanks for the blog. Thanks allot.


Level 4

Thanks for reading! I had fun researching but there really isn't too much info on the internet about Reich. It would be nice to see a picture of him but I haven't been able to find one anywhere.


Level 5

Attended Baltimore Coin Club show today. Must have looked at some of the coins that are from his era. Thanks for the information John Reich. Would also like to see Bust designs used again. Thanks


Level 4

I wish we could get a capped bust design as well. I heard about Baltimore, it sounds fun. Hope you had a good time there, thanks for reading.

It's Mokie

Level 6

Nice Job Y.B., I hope the Mint considers reusing Mr. Reich's Bust design on some our 250th Anniversary Coins.


Level 4

Thank you Moke. Yes it would be nice to see a commemorative Reich design, maybe something alot like what they are doing for the 2021 CC morgan/peace dollars. Take care.

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