[vendtalk] Louis Braille Coin Launch Invitation

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Fri Feb 27 01:40:45 UTC 2009

Launch Invitation

The launch of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial 
Silver Dollar will take place on March 26, 2009, 
at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan 
Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

If you love Braille, want to learn more about it, 
or want to join us in our effort to bring 
awareness to the Braille literacy crisis, we urge 
you to attend this extraordinary event. It is not 
often that such a unique opportunity arises, and 
we hope that you will join us as we celebrate 
this defining moment in American history.

Festivities begin at 10:00 a.m. and will last 
until approximately 1:00 p.m. There will be 
activities for all ages, and the first 
opportunity to purchase the Louis Braille Coin 
will be available exclusively to those in attendance.

While seating is not limited, it is helpful for 
us to know how many people to expect. Please 
assist us in providing you with the best possible 
experience by filling out the event registration 
form at www.Braille.org. As details of the event 
are announced, your registration will ensure that you are the first to know.

Event address:
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

For more information please call 410-659-9314 x2230

U.S. Mint Information

The 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar 
commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth 
of Louis Braille, inventor of the Braille system, 
which is still used by the blind to read and write.

Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France, near 
Paris, on January 4, 1809. At the age of three, 
he lost the sight in his left eye as the result 
of an accident in his father’s workshop. An 
infection spread to his right eye and he became 
completely blind by the age of four. At the age 
of 10, Braille received a scholarship to attend 
the Royal Institute for Blind Children in Paris, 
where he became the youngest student. At the 
school, most instruction was oral, but Braille 
read books for the blind, which had large letters embossed on the pages.

In 1821, a captain in Napoleon’s army, Charles 
Barbier de la Serre, visited Braille’s school and 
introduced a system he had invented called “night 
writing.” This was a method for communicating on 
the battlefield at night without having to talk 
or light a match, which could alert the enemy. It 
consisted of 12 raised dots which could be 
combined to represent words by sounds rather than 
letters. Over the next few months, Braille 
experimented with different configurations until 
he found a simpler one using just six dots.

By the age of 15, using a blunt awl (the same 
type of tool that had injured his left eye 12 
years earlier) to punch holes in paper to 
represent letters, Braille had developed the code 
that is essentially what we know today as modern 
Braille. It uses no more than six dots in a 
“cell” of two columns of up to three dots each to 
represent letters and contains a system of 
punctuation and “contractions” to speed reading 
and writing. It is read by passing the fingers over the raised dots.

Today, Braille has been adapted to almost every 
known language and is used everywhere from bus 
stops and maps to music notation and text books. 
In his native France, Louis Braille’s achievement 
was recognized in 1952 – the 100th anniversary of 
his death – when his body was moved to Paris and interred in the Pantheon.

Now, for the first time in history, a United 
States coin features readable Braille. It is 
available in both proof and uncirculated 
versions. The obverse (heads) features a portrait 
of Louis Braille designed by United States Mint 
Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer 
Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint 
Sculptor/Engraver Phebe Hemphill. It is also 
inscribed with LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, LOUIS BRAILLE, 1809 and 2009.

The reverse (tails), showing a child reading a 
book in Braille, was designed by United States 
Mint AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble and 
sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor/Engraver 
Joseph Menna. The word Braille (abbreviated Brl 
in Braille code) is depicted in the upper field. 
The word INDEPENDENCE is featured on a bookshelf 
behind the child, in addition to the inscriptions 

Surcharges from sales of the 2009 Louis Braille 
Bicentennial Silver Dollar are authorized to be 
paid to the National Federation of the Blind to 
further its programs to promote Braille literacy.

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