POLLOCK DESIGNS GOLD PIECE
MOBRIDGE TRIBUNE NEWS ARTICLE APRIL 29, 1987
The following article was written Jim Files and appeared in the MOBRIDGE
TRIBUNE, Mobridge South Dakota, April 29, 1987 and is reprinted here with
permission of the MOBRIDGE TRIBUNE.
POLLOCK DESIGNS GOLD PIECE
South Dakota Double Bison gold and silver piece design by former Combat
Artist Jim Pollock.
By Jim Files
Combat artist Jim Pollock has brought it home this time.
Instead of the green terror of jungle war, he has brought to life a placid
yet vital symbol of the South Dakota plains.
Pollock, who was born and raised in the town of the same name-- named for
his great grandfather, as a matter of fact--was chosen to design the first
striking of the South Dakota Bison, the largest official program of gold
and silver bullion pieces ever to be minted by a state government.
he Bison is not a run of the mill commemorative piece, but a piece that
will enter the international gold and silver markets in competition with
the U.S. American Eagle, the Canadian Maple Leaf, Chinese Panda and other
Pollock, who says he's an artist and not an economist, still said "If
this piece sells good, a tremendous tax burden is going to be lifted from
the South Dakota taxpayer." A portion of profits from the sale of the
pieces are to go into the state coffers. "This is the ideal way to
raise funds," Pollock said, "No taxes, no social problems, and
no environmental hazards."
Gov. George Mickelson said that South Dakota's bullion program is designed
to provide the highest quality gold and silver pieces for the lowest price.
Mickelson said all pieces are minted in .999 fine South Dakota native gold
and silver and are sold in many sizes not offered anywhere else in the world
The gold pieces are being offered in 1/20, 1/10, 1/2, 1, 2, 5, and 10 oz.
sizes. The silver pieces are offered in 1/2, 1, 5, and 10 oz. sizes. prices
will depend on the current world gold and silver prices.
The design of two bison-- standing on the prairie was chosen, Pollock said
because, "We wanted a symbol that could immediately be identified as
being American and at the same time we wanted something that was a part
of South Dakota's history."
Mint officials get a little more flowery about the whole thing. "The
bison design depicted by Pollock was a natural choice to represent American
produced gold and silver bullion pieces," they said in an official
statement. "Bison once roamed freely over the prairies of North American
in vast herds numbering in the millions. Westward expansion nearly eliminated
these prairie giants. South Dakotans are credited with saving the bison
from extinction and, today, over 10,000 bison graze on the South Dakota
ollock got the nod to design the pieces in a slightly round-about-way. "I
entered the contest last year for the design of the South Dakota centennial
piece," he said. "And I tied for first place"
In the run-off, however, Pollock said his bison design lost "hands
That wasn't the end of the story, though. Robert Hoff, President of Tri-State
Mint of Sioux Falls-- official mint for the state of South Dakota-- had
been one of the judges for the centennial piece, and he liked Pollock's
pencil Bison design.
Hoff and state of South Dakota officials asked Pollock if he'd be interested
in doing a more refined, more detailed pen and ink drawing for use on South
Dakota's new bullion piece. Pollock's drawing was sent to a New York sculptor
who transferred the design to clay.
In addition to being a first issue, the design will change each year enhancing
the collector value.
The artist, who graduated from South Dakota State University, and who lives
with his wife Betsy in Pierre, hasn't always had what many people might
think of as "an artist's life." It hasn't been a lot of attic
apartments with good clean north light, and luscious models.
Jim Pollock was a combat artist for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He spent several
months in Vietnam, travelling from unit to unit. " I figured it up
once and estimated that I traveled 3600 miles in those three months, visiting
with each unit for only two or three days at a time."
Conditions were not always ideal. "It rained a lot, and I had to carry
my sketchbook wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting wet."
After he left Vietnam, Pollock spent another three months in Hawaii, making
his rough sketches into finished water colors, pen and ink drawings and
The art produced during his assignment to Combat Artist Team IV are in the
U.S. Army War Art Collection in Washington, D.C. Some of it travels in Army
exhibits. His work has been displayed in exhibits as far ranging as Saigon,
Honolulu and St. Louis.
In 1984 Pollock was commissioned by the South Dakota Committee on the Humanities
to do a series of 5 posters to help celebrate South Dakota's Centennial
in 1989. Pollock has exhibited in many group and one person shows. He has
a line of prints and his work can be found in many private and corporate
collections throughout the U.S.
Pollock was named South Dakota Artist of the year by the South Dakota Hall
of Fame the first year the award was given. Currently, he is working with
computer art and computer animation.
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