Born in Clayton, New Jersey in 1939, T. James Ferrell
graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he pursued studies
in painting, sculpture, and graphics. Upon leaving art school in 1963, he
worked as an artist on the staff of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin for
six years. In the decade after his graduation he served as monitor of the
Professional Artists’ Graphic Workshop at the Academy. He studied art at
the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania for two years.
Ferrell is a recipient of the Cresson European Traveling
Scholarship, the Charles Toppan Prize for oil painting, and for four
consecutive years the Lux prize and the Woodrow prize in printmaking. Many
institutions and galleries have exhibited his work.
In 1969 he became interested in the new Franklin Mint and
joined the staff of medallic artists there, working under Gilroy Roberts, who
had earlier served as chief engraver of the U.S. Mint. After a very productive
five years designing coins (for foreign countries including Panama, the
Philippines, and Egypt) and medals, he became part of management but still
worked with artistic concepts in the sculpting and design of hundreds of
medals. During his 20-year tenure with the Franklin Mint, he developed an
expertise and technical knowledge in the production of coins and medals.
In August 1989 he joined the Engraving Department of the
United States Mint in Philadelphia where he sculpted more than 30 coins. One of
his early projects was the creation of the Congressional gold medal honoring
Jesse Owens, followed in late 1990 by the design of the reverse of the
1991-dated Mount Rushmore commemorative half dollar, and in 1991 by the reverse
of the Korean War commemorative silver dollar.
He modeled five Washington quarters in the State Series and
over 30 commemorative coins from 1990 to 2004. Some commemoratives include the
1992 Columbus Quincentennial commemorative half dollar obverse, the 1993
Jefferson 250th Anniversary commemorative silver dollar, the 1997 Franklin D.
Roosevelt Memorial gold half eagle obverse, the 2002 United States West Point
Bicentennial commemorative silver dollar obverse, and the 2003 Wright Brothers
commemorative silver dollar obverse.
While there was no chief engraver during this time at the
United States Mint, T. James Ferrell’s light shined as brightly as that of a
chief engraver. In 2002 the American Numismatic Association honored Ferrell
with its Medallic Sculpture Award.