Victor Vincente of America
Born in 1941 as Michael Hiltner, while still a teenager, VVA's meteoric rise in the world of cycling was considered to be, rightfully so, astounding. He started pedaling earnestly at the age of 16 and almost immediately (that same year, 1957) became Southern California junior road champion, then All-California road champion (1958). In 1959, he was Southern California Grand Prix champion. Also that year, he was the youngest winner of Canada's Tour du St. Laurent, and by achieving victory in the Circuito di Monsummano of 1961 he became the first American since 1870 (over 90 years!) to win a bike race in Tuscany.
Above picture shows VVA with his 50th birthday coin. VVA was also a California road-race champion, national road champion, and North American hillclimb champ (all in 1965). He competed in the Pan-American Games (1959 in Chicago, 1963 in São Paulo) and the Olympic Games (1960 in Rome, 1964 in Tokyo). He has also raced in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Belgium. He furthermore established the 1st double transcontinental/coast-to-coast-and-back record (1975); upon his victorious return from this cross-country trek, he resolved to mark the occasion — the conquering of the American highways, turnpikes, interstates, and thoroughfares - by promptly and officially changing his name from Michael Beckwith Hiltner to his symbolically chosen nom de cyclisme, Victor Vincente of America. Afterwards, he added to his legend by shifting gears and devoting his energies to off-road racing. Starting in 1979, he even designed and mass-produced his own mountain bike, the “Topanga!”. The “Dirt Guru”, as he is affectionately known, was crowned as California hillclimb champion in 1983. For his pioneering efforts in cycling and for being a tireless promoter of this sport, he was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (1989) and the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame (2001). There are plenty more additional biographical details which could be listed about VVA ( and his varied accomplishments. His Web-site ( contains a complete “Life Timeline”.
1989- a $9.00 “Downhill Crazy” (copper)
1990- a $23.00 “Skrabinj” scarab beetle (.999 silver minted by Crown Mint, Calabasas, CA)
1991- a $50.00 Solar Eclipse/VVA profile, 50th birthday commemorative (200 pieces in bronze, 100 pieces in .999 silver and 1 piece in .999 Gold minted by Crown Mint, Calabasas, USA).
1992- a $4.50 Aurochs/Brick Wall, masonry theme (pewter by Forbes Stampings, Valencia, CA; also in 10.99g silver and 2.99g gold minted by Bloomer's Metal Stampings, Valencia, CA)
1994- a $3.00 30th Anniversary of the 1964 Tokyo Olympiad/Chinese “Sa D'k” ideograms, with center hole. 698 pieces made in phosphorous bronze, 1'' diameter and .045 thick, minted by Bloomer's Metal Stampings, Valencia, CA.
1995- a $20.00 God kills you. “Te Tue Deus” Arab-Japanese war-cry, triangular in shape. 161 pieces in .999 silver and 1 piece in .999 gold minted by Bloomer's Metal Stampings, Valencia, CA.
1996- a $12.00 Atlanta Olympic Games, chainrings/Australian Aborigine rider. Commemorating the inclusion of mountain biking into Olympics games. 240 pieces in bronze, 98 pieces in .999 silver and 2 pieces in .999 gold minted by Bloomer's Metal Stampings, Valencia, CA.
2000- a $20.00 HuPopDe, advocating “Human Population Decline”. 300 pieces in bronze, 30 pieces in .999 silver minted by Nevada City Mint, Nevada City, CA.
There are also the following less sophisticated, non-industrially struck coins:
1988- a $1.07 hand-hammered from automobile wheel-balance lead weights, a $2.54 and a $6.39 fashioned from re-flattened, scrap copper pipe. 1993- a $2.14 (similar to the '88 $1.07) and a $3.86 from brass.
In regards to the '89 piece, Victor didn't quite know where to go in order to get it properly (professionally) made: “I went door-to-door in an industrial neighborhood, or used the phone book, and eventually found a shop that could apply some tonnage. I never heard of a knuckle press, much less a COIN PRESS. Who knows what the name of that shop is? That may be lost to history...” Additionally, this coin was actually used in at least one legitimate commercial transaction: it was accepted in lieu of the $20 entry-fee for cyclists during the 1993 “Puerco!” race, an event (one of several) which was founded by Victor in 1980. Why did VVA start minting coins? By the end of the '80s, he had decided to create objects of a more permanent nature, art “intended to last for a millennia.” He explains that “Before coin production, I had experience in design and graphic art to the extent of producing t-shirts, posters, postcards. Eventually, I wanted a medium, and a product, that was more long-lasting. Since teenage years, I had an interest in numismatics, so there was my answer: graphic art in metal. The obverse on my first coin was, in fact, re-used art from a t-shirt and poster design. From my point of view, I discovered ‘coin art’, though as time went by, I began to see that others had been striking coins for years.” Victor has made at least 4 attractive artistamps (mail art) as well. Though lacking photographic images of the actual coins, a link to most of VVA's pieces can be found in the “Products” section of his site. Furthermore, some clear images of the 1991 coin are viewable at:
VVA is also a author of a few books like "A Dirt Road Rider's Trek Epic" and "1991, selected verses of Victor Vincente of America".
Chiefa Coins