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John [Johann] Mathias Reich


Born in Furth, BavariaCame to America and settled in Philadelphia about 1800.

It is likely that he arrived as an indentured servant. By 1801 he had paid off any outstanding debts and was free to be employed by the Mint. He was not officially hired until 1807 at the request of Robert Patterson. His salary was $600 per year. It was about the same time that Furst arrived in this country assuming that he would be hired as chief engraver. Either one would have been a fine replacement but Scot would retain the title, it not the duties, of chief engraver until his death.

He was assistant Engraver of the United States Mint under Robert Scot. He became dissatisfied doing the work of engraver and getting paid as assistant. He resigned March 31, 1817. He died in Albany, New York.

During his time at the mint he redesigned and engraved dies for every denomination being produced. Some people feel this period represents the most artistic rendering of our coins. In the 1860's, W. E. DuBois claimed that Reich put his "fat mistress" on the half dollar of 1807-1836.

The regular coinage he designed includes:

Half Cents 1809 to 1836

Large Cents 1808 to 1814

Half Dime 1829 to 1837

Dime 1809 to 1837 

Half Dollar 1807 to 1836

Quarter Eagle 1808, 1821 to 1834

Half Eagle 1807 to 1812, 1813 to 1834

Reich designed and engraved many of the mint medals:

The American Revolution 1808 (Julian CM-4)

The American Revolution 1808 (Julian CM-5)

The American Revolution 1808 (Julian CM-6)

The American Revolution 1808 (Julian CM-7)

The American Revolution 1808 (Julian CM-8)

The War With Tripoli (Julian NA-3)

Captain Issac Hull (Julian NA-12)

Presidency Relinquished (Julian PR-1)

Thomas Jefferson (Julian PR-2)

Washington Benevolent Society (Julian RF-23)

Reich designed the common reverse used on many Indian Peace Medals.

John Adams (Julian IP-1)

James Madison (Julian IP-5,6,7)

Reich also did the obverse James Monroe (Julian IP-8,9,10)

John Quincy Adams (Julian IP-11,12,13)

Andrew Jackson (Julian IP-14,15,16)

Martin Van Buren (Julian IP-17,18,19)

William Henry Harrison (Julian IP-20)

John Tyler (Julian IP-21,22,23)

James Knox Polk (Julian IP-24,25,26)

Zachary Taylor (Julian IP-27,28,29)

bio: Fielding; NYHSD; P-F; Stauffer; WWWA-H; NUM 68 Mar 1955 pages 242-249

See also Penny-Wise, October 2020, which contains two related articles by Bill Eckberg.

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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