|Archive available at http://www.ChicagoCoinClub.org/
|Volume 54 No. 4
The 1071st meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held in the 3rd floor meeting room at the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court. President Robert Feiler called the meeting to order at 7 PM with 18 members and 1 guest present, Wendy Bierly.
The February Minutes were approved as printed in the Chatter. Treasurer Steve Zitowsky presented a printed report showing February income of $80.00, expenses of $121.43 and total assets $12,552.67. The report was approved as presented.
Second V.P. Jeff Rosinia introduced Lyle Daly who delivered a PowerPoint presentation Numismatic Legacy of Augustus Saint-Gaudens & Theodore Roosevelt. Following a question and answer period, Jeff presented Lyle with an engraved Club Speaker’s Medal and an ANA Educational Certificate.
Members were reminded of the Club meeting on March 29 at the upcoming Chicago Paper Money Expo with featured speaker Steve Feller on Silent Witness: Civilian Camp Money of World War II.
Bruce Smith will speak April 9 on Siamese Porcelain Gambling Tokens. [Editor: this has changed; new speaker is detailed later in the minutes.] Smith will arrive into Chicago earlier that day to view a collection of ancient Chinese coins and oracle bones at The Field Museum. It was announced that Zhou Xiang, the Numismatic Curator at China’s Shanghai Museum, would like to also view this collection that went into the museum in 1914. However, Mr. Zhou needed a letter of invitation from a not-for-profit organization. The Secretary reported the Club’s Board of Directors gave e-mail approval and the letter was sent and confirmation of its receipt was already received. Members were told Mr. Zhou might be in attendance at the April meeting.
First V.P. Lyle Daly announced the evening’s exhibitors: DAVID GUMM — Australian 1926 3-pence and a Swedish bronze 1 & 5-ore pieces; KURT HYDE — U.S. coins & political hard times tokens; ANDREW MICHYETA — 3 silver coins counter struck and totally mashed at his machine shop, 5 coins from Iturbide from the Virgil Brand collection via John J. Pittman, 1843 Mexican 8-reales and 1882 Argentinean peso; STEVE ZITOWSKY — 1915-S Panama-Pacific U.S. $1 gold coin and 7 Masonic tokens; ROBERT LEONARD — beggar money from Jerusalem, circa 1900-1917, and beggar voucher (1993-94) from Portland, Oregon; RICHARD LIPMAN — gold, silver and bronze medals of L.L. Zamenhof (1859-1917) the inventor of Esperanto; ROBERT FEILER — 6 coin & medal sets by Toivo Johnson each with a 7.5-oz. silver medal; WILLIAM BIERLY — 14 pieces of contemporary currency from a recent trip to China; MARK STACKLER — 8-reales from Guadalajara and a counterstamped 8-reales.
Under old business, President Feiler reminded members of the upcoming coin shows as published in the Chatter. Jeff Rosinia spoke on the Lawndale National Bank souvenir banknote card for the Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) meeting.
The meeting was called into recess at 9:12 PM and will resume on Saturday, April 29 at 1 PM at the CPMX.
. . . . . . .
Session II of the 1071st meeting of the Chicago Coin Club was held in conjunction with the Chicago Paper Money Expo, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rosemont. With the absence of the President and Vice Presidents, the meeting was called to order at 1 PM by the Secretary, Carl Wolf, with 30 members and 27 guests present. John Wilson, representing the CPMX show, delivered a welcome message and invited everyone to attend the upcoming Chicago International Coin Fair and the Mid-America Coin Expo.
A motion was passed to dispense with the usual order of business and adopt an abbreviated agenda. Attendees were told of the Club’s standard meeting times. The featured speaker April 9th will be David Gumm on History of U.S. Large Cents, 1793-1857, and Don Dool will speak May 14th on The Bronze Coinage of the French Feudal States. Everyone was also invited to attend the upcoming Club meeting April 26th at the same location and in conjunction with the Chicago International Coin Fair. The speaker will be Bruce Smith on Marco Polo’s Account of 13th Century Asian Money.
Steve Feller spoke on his new catalog Silent Witness: Civilian Camp Money of World War II. Following a question-and-answer session, Steve was presented with an ANA educational certificate and an engraved Club medal. A representative of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Ralph Rehbock, was in attendance as were Museum founding members, Joan and William Brodsky.
The application of Danny Spungen received first reading.
It was announced that the ANA will conduct the educational seminar “Coins in the Classroom” on April 18-19 and underwritten by the Central States Numismatic Society.
A round of applause was given to Dennis Coughlin who brought 2 boxes of cookies for refreshments. Member Dennis Ciechna was introduced and he briefly described the history of the Lawndale National Bank, the subject of the souvenir banknote card. Club Directors Eugene Freeman, Elliot Krieter and Mark Wieclaw distributed the souvenir cards to everyone in attendance.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 PM.
Carl Wolf, Secretary
by Lyle Daly,
presented to our March 12, 2008 meeting
Precursors of the Renaissance
In order to better understand a period in history it’s important to understand the event leading up to the event and the consequences of the event. So it is and was for the American Renaissance.
Try to envision the events of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Our Nation was consolidated from Atlantic to Pacific. The West was “won” ( Massacre at Wounded Knee 1890). Most Territories were granted statehood. We defeated Spain and sent our Navy around the world. We built the Panama Canal when others failed. Huge fortunes were made in industries. While times were not always good for the little guy, there was “hope.” The Nation was “young & cocky.”
Cooper Union and the Art Student League of New York
The educational systems for artists underwent changes. Cooper Union was founded by Peter Cooper in 1859. He was an industrialist with only 3 years of formal education but publicly professed that it was the duty of all to return to society a portion of the wealth made within the society. He put his money behind his values and fully endowed tuition for gifted artists that were financially challenged. His institution exists today.
The Student Art League of New York began in 1874 as a grass roots movement by students to pursue art as studied in Europe (without formal progression of studies). This is important when considering how artisans approached design of coinage. The League was founded formally in 1875 to supplement the financially failing National Academy.
The role of World Fairs
In late 19th century society, World Fairs were events of monumental social consequence that defined an era; much like Woodstock, Vietnam, or WW II (read Devil in the White City). These were convocations of Art, Architecture, Engineering, Science, Anthropology, Geography all in massive in public celebration. The artists met and collaborated. The public saw and were in awe, and the politicians noticed.
The American Fairs mentioned in the Artisans’ biographies include:
The Columbian exposition of 1893 was the second occasion for Saint-Gaudens to meet Charles Barber. It was not a favorable collaboration. Saint-Gaudens was Chief Artistic Advisor of the fair. He was also supposed to design the exposition’s Commemorative Presentation Medal. Saint-Gaudens’ design for the reverse of this medal was rejected by the United States Senate Quatro-Centennial Committee because the premature circulation of a photograph fostered criticism of the nude youth on the reverse. Saint-Gaudens attempted various modifications but ultimately refused to alter his design, and solicited public support for his cause. The art world supported him against the committee action, but to no avail. The reverse was eventually revised and engraved by Mint engraver Charles F. Barber.
The 1904 Fair Medal is also worth note. The medals were designed by Adolph A. Weinman, as one of his earliest commissions. The medals were struck by the U.S. mint in Philadelphia and weigh approximately 3.5 ounces. The various award medals had different overall shapes, but common, circular designs.
The obverse depicts 2 female figures above the Roman numerals MCMIV (1904). The tall and stately figure is Columbia; with her arms spread wide holding the United States flag. Columbia is enveloping a youthful maiden at her side, representing the Louisiana Purchase Territory. Emblematic of her reception into the union, the maiden is divesting herself of the cloak of France, the material decorated with busy bees, the emblem of Napoleon. In the background is the rising sun, marking the dawn of a new era of progress to the nation.
The reverse shows an architectural tablet inscribed with the grade of the medal and “Lovisiana Pvrchase Exposition”. Below the tablet are two dolphins symbolizing the nation’s eastern and western boundaries, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Above the tablet is a large eagle with its wings spread, from ocean to ocean.
Status Quo - The 38 Year Barber Dynasty
William Barber was appointed Chief Engraver upon the death of James Longacre 1869, and he held the office until his death in 1879. Both he and his son Charles were well entrenched at the mint. Charles Barber succeeded his father as chief engraver in 1879, and served to 1917. Unlike artisans and progressives of the day, the mint continued in its regimented, conservative processes. The engravers were not about to create problems for themselves. It was during a Design Competition in 1891 orchestrated by Director Leech that St Gaudens first encountered Charles Barber.
Leach solicited acclaimed artists but offered only a modest fee and a compressed schedule. In response the artists banned together and refused to participate. Leech opened the completion to the public with disastrous results. The competition was judged by Barber, Saint-Gaudens and Henry Mitchell. After a review of the submissions, Barber and Saint-Gaudens each independently suggested they should do designs. Probably out of frustration, Leech directed Charles Barber to proceed with coinage designs which resulted in the Barber coinage of 1892-1916.
Both William and Charles Barber are considered highly competent engravers but uninspired designers. I personally disagree. He was an obstructionist, and protective of “his” mint, but a skilled designer. His coinage and George Morgan’s are an assemblage of clear and discreet elements in pristine fields. They respect a natural boundary: the edge or rim. Their evenly spaced elements demonstrate order, restraint and dignity. These coins are very close to “standardized” and follow a long history established by Robert Scott’s flowing hair design, John Reich’s draped & capped bust, James Longacre & Christian Gobrecht’s seated liberty coinage. Too often this coinage is compared to those that replaced it. It’s like comparing Federal vs. Victorian architecture, Realism vs. Art Nuevo or Beethoven vs. Brubek. They are as different as apples and oranges.
The Artists who lay siege to the Mint
The “Renaissance” artisans were unencumbered with the hierarchy of the mint. They were brought in from the artistic community, not part of the “pecking order” in government. Recall the philosophy of the Student Art League. They did not value the process. They valued the product. It is easy to see them as Rebels and Barbarians.
Unencumbered by an understanding of the coining process they were unaware of what was “impossible”. An example is the issue of high relief and coin “stacking.” This was the ability of money handlers to quickly count coins by thickness in a “stacking rack.” The High Relief coins had the same gold content but due to the extreame concave shape a stack of 10 high relief coins was taller than a stack of the traditional coins resulting in the requirement to count out each stack. It had nothing to do with “toppling.”
The new artisans brought stylistic differences. The entire coin surface is a canvas. Designs are taken to the edge and do not acknowledge boundaries; vignettes encroach and cover lettering.
The Instruments of Change: Gus and Ted
TR was a friend of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. Both gentlemen frequented the homes of author Henry Adams and politician John Hay to engage in discussion on politics, history, literature, hunting, art and social science. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was also a regular attendee.
Theodore Roosevelt, (1858-1919)
TR was the twenty-sixth president of the United States. He also served as New York State assemblyman from 1882 to 1884 and assistant secretary of the navy from 1897 through 1898 during the Spanish-American War. He was a War hero. So Theodore Roosevelt was encouraged to run for Governor of New York by party boss Tom Platt to draw attention away from certain scandals in New York government. He did a little too well at cleaning up New York and was nudged out of local government by encouraging him to accept the vice presidential nomination for McKinley’s 2nd term.
TR could have drifted into the back waters of history but Leon F. Czolgosz, an anarchist disowned by his own political allies, assassinated president William McKinley on September 6, 1901 and Theodore Roosevelt, at 42 became the 26th and youngest President of the United States. He served until March 4, 1909.
We know that TR admired the gold coinage of Alexander the Great. As an admirer of all great accomplishments, TR’s Citizens’ Inaugural Committee commissioned the Theodore Roosevelt Special Inaugural Medal, in 1905. The medal was designed by Saint-Gaudens and modeled by his assistant Adolph Weinman. Saint-Gaudens’ design for the standing eagle was initiated in the Shaw Memorial, and also used for the ten-dollar gold piece.
Three medals were struck in gold and 125 in bronze by Tiffany. Since the commission was given by the Citizens’ Inaugural Committee, it was not part of the regular issue of such by the United States Mint. An official mint issued inaugural medal designed by Charles Barber was NOT adopted by the Inaugural Committee.
Born in Dublin, March 1, 1848, he lived until August 3, 1907, Saint-Gaudens was an American sculptor of the Beaux Arts generation who embodied the “American Renaissance.” Raised in New York, he was apprenticed to a cameo-cutter, but also took art classes at the Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. At 19, his apprenticeship was complete; he traveled to Paris where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1870, he left Paris for Rome, to study art and architecture, and worked on his first commissions. There he met an American art student, Augusta Homer, whom he married in 1877. Upon his return to New York he was a member of the Tilers, a group of prominent artists and writers, including Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase and Arthur Quartley.
He attained major critical success in the design of monuments commemorating heroes of the American Civil War, many of which still stand. In addition to his famous works such as the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Boston Common and the outstanding grand equestrian monuments to Civil War generals John A. Logan, atop a tumulus in Chicago, 1894-97, and William Tecumseh Sherman, at the corner of New York’s Central Park, 1892-1903. In his later years he founded the “Cornish Colony,” an artistic colony that included notable painters, sculptors, writers, and architects.
His prominence brought him students, and he was an able and sensitive teacher. He tutored young artists privately, taught at the Art Students League, and took on a large number of assistants. He was an artistic advisor to the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, an avid supporter of the American Academy in Rome, and part of the MacMillan Commission, which brought into being L’Enfant’s long-ignored master-plan for the nation’s capital. Augustus Saint-Gaudens made a specialty of intimate private portrait panels in sensitive, very low relief, which owed something to the Florentine Renaissance.
Participation as a judge in the Mint competition of 1891 left Saint-Gaudens disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the institution.
For numismatists Saint-Gaudens’ Sherman Monument, 1892-1903, with Victory leading the General, is one of the most important. Saint-Gaudens modeled a bust of the general in 1888. This bust served as a study for the 1903 equestrian monument to the Civil War leader. Work on the Sherman Monument was begun in 1892 in Saint-Gaudens’ New York studio, continued in Paris, and was finished in Cornish, NH, in 1901. The monument was unveiled on May 30, 1903, at the entrance to New York’s Central Park.
James E. Fraser and Henry Hering assisted Saint-Gaudens in Paris in remodeling the equestrian and allegorical figures, which were exhibited in the Paris salon of 1899, the Exposition Universelle of 1900, and at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, New York.
The Artists: Bringing Eagles to Life
Augusts Saint-Gaudens died August 3, 1907. In months prior his death, pain led to disruptions in the work. Henry Hering (1874-1949), a principal assistant to Saint-Gaudens filled the void. Hering was born in New York City, and began his study at the Cooper Union from 1888 to 1891. He worked in the New York studio of Philip Martiny, another Saint-Gaudens assistant. He took classes at the Art Students League in New York from 1894 to 1898, where he may have received instruction from Saint-Gaudens. He was in Saint-Gaudens’ Paris studio in 1900, and entered the École des Beaux-Arts and the Colorossi Academie in Paris. In Cornish, Hering was the principal assistant to Saint-Gaudens, assisting with the Sherman Monument, setting up his sculpture at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and modeling the United States Coinage of 1907. He married Elsie Ward, another assistant in the Cornish studio, in 1910.
Henry was the man who interacted on a daily basis with mint officials, including Charles Barber, to bring to production the Saint-Gaudens $10 and $20 gold pieces. There are excellent accounts of his letters to and communications with Barber, Morgan and the mint in Don Taxay’s History of the US Mint.
After the death of Saint-Gaudens, the legacy of his work and association with TR lived on. The brief sketches of the contributing artisans that follow are in the chronological order of their respective coins.
Bela Pratt (1867-1917) was born in Norwich, Connecticut. After graduating from Yale, Pratt studied with Saint-Gaudens at the Art Students League. He continued his studies in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts, returning to the U.S. to take a commission for sculpture for the World’s Columbian Exposition.
Pratt was one of the sculptors who continued Saint-Gaudens’ influence in coin design after 1907. His five-dollar and two and a half dollar coin, their unusual intaglio Indian head the U.S. mint’s only recessed designs in circulation, are known as the “Pratt coins.“ This style is known as “Egyptian Relief.” This style was promoted to TR by Dr. William Bigelow
Victor D(avid) Brenner (1871-1924) was an American medalist of Lithuanian origin. Trained as a seal-engraver under his father, he worked as a jeweler’s engraver and type cutter. In 1890 he went to New York, worked as a die engraver of badges, and in 1898 went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. He first exhibited medals in the early years of the 20th century. He is known for low relief and soft-edged naturalism and also for inclusion of flat expanses of metal in his designs. He occasionally ventured into sculpture, but he was best known for his medals and plaquettes, both struck and cast. His sensitive portraits assured his popularity.
The powerful head of President Roosevelt on the Panama Canal medal (1908) demonstrate his skill. He executed coins for the Republic of San Domingo and designed the American cent coin with the head of Abraham Lincoln first used in 1909. The only person invited to participate in the formulation of the new design was Victor David Brenner. President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the talents of this outstanding sculptor that Brenner was singled out by the President for the commission. Brenner does not seem to be part of the Saint-Gaudens circle and the Lincoln cent doesn’t fit stylistically with the other coinage of the era.
James Earle Fraser (1876-1953) was born in Winona, Minnesota. He studied sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1895 he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he came to the attention of Saint-Gaudens, who invited him to join as an assistant in his Paris studio. There he worked on the Sherman Monument. Fraser was in charge of the Cornish studio after Saint-Gaudens’ return from Paris in 1900. In 1901, he designed the special medal of honor awarded to Saint-Gaudens by the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY.
Fraser set up his own studio in 1902 in New York City. He remained close to Saint-Gaudens, often working on patination or finishing Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture after it left the foundries.
Fraser is probably most noted for the Buffalo five cent piece, which was designed in 1913, and for the monumental sculpture of a vanquished Indian, The End of the Trail.
Although TR was out of office and Taft was the new President, Secretary of Treasury MacVeigh, urged by his son, wanted to continue the Roosevelt initiative. Fraser, made aware of the plan to revamp the 5 cent piece by the director of the mint Roberts, managed to convince MacVeigh that a competition was not necessary, a single competent man working with the Arts Commission would accomplish much more.
Competition for the Commemorative coins for the 1915 PanPac World Expo
The 1915 World’s Fair sparked a competition for commemorative coinage. The famous PanPac $50 gold piece is a classic. The designs for the commemorative half were undertaken by noted artist Paul Manship but were discarded. Charles Barber and George Morgan submitted a surprisingly contemporary design in mid 1915. The similarities between this design and the walking liberty half submitted a year later by Adolf Weinmann are startling enough to question the genesis of both designs
The Artists: Competition of 1916
It had been 25 years since the dime, quarter and half had been redesigned and it was Secretary William McAdoo and Mint Director Robert Woolley with the Commission on Fine Arts who held a competition to redesign these coins
Requests for Proposals were sent to Adolf Weinman, Hermon MacNeil and Albin Polesek. Initially Weinman was awarded 5 of the 6 surfaces, but the Comission on Fine Art suggested MacNeil design both sides of the quarter. It has been suggested that the Competition of 1916 was a political move to demonstrate the vitality of the Woodrow Wilson Presidency after a 3 way race between he, TR and WH Taft.
Adolph Weinman (1870-1952), born in Karlsruhe, Germany, came to the United States in 1880. He was apprenticed to a wood and ivory carver, and took evening classes at the Cooper Union. At the Art Students League, he came to the attention of Saint-Gaudens. Weinman studied with Philip Martiny, and then became an assistant to Daniel Chester French, Olin Warner, and Saint-Gaudens, for whom he modeled the Roosevelt Inaugural Medal. He opened his own studio in 1904. Weinman is especially noted for his contributions to the medallic arts. According to his son Robert Weinman, his father was not particularly proud of his work as a designer of US Coinage.
Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947) was born and raised on a farm in Everett, Massachusetts. MacNeil studied art in Boston, and at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian in Paris. Returning to the United States in 1891, he worked with Philip Martiny on the sculpture for the World’s Columbian Exposition where he saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. This aroused MacNeil’s interest in Indians and led to a long trip through the Southwest, during which he studied the history, customs, and ceremonies of the local tribes. For the next decade, MacNeil concentrated on Indian subjects in an effort to rehabilitate their image and give his own work more of a national character. At the turn of the century, the Santa Fe Railway commissioned a series of portraits of the Navajo and the Hopi; but by 1910, MacNeil had modeled the last of his Indian sculptures, and the remainder of his career was devoted to public monuments celebrating American heroes.
His design for the Standing Liberty quarter is based on Greek sculpture of 450-350 BC and intended to represent a peaceful nation prepared to defend itself. McNeil also did the bas relief of Pierre Marquette in the Marquette Building at Adams and Dearborn in Chicago.
Antonio de Francisci was born in Palermo, Sicily, on June 13, 1887, the youngest of ten childern. He began to develop his artistic talents in his childhood by carving with his father who was in the marble business. He emigrated at the age of 16 to the United States in 1903 and resumed his studies at Cooper Union in New York City. He continued his studies at the National Academy of Design where he later became a national academician and a council member.
At the Art Students League, he studied under James Earle Fraser who would go on to design the buffalo nickel. After graduation in 1907, he served an apprenticeship with Hermon A. MacNeil who design the Standing Liberty quarter.
In 1911, de Francisci became an assistant to Adolph A. Weinman who gave him sound technical training in engraving. While working for Weinman in 1913, de Francisci became a U.S. citizen and changed his first name to Anthony. Starting in 1915, he became an instructor in sculpture at Columbia University. He would later also teach at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design and the National Academy of Design, both in New York City.
De Francisci opened his own studio in 1917. During the next year, he received his first important commission to sculpt two huge stone panels Day Air Mail and Night Air Mail for the exterior of the new U.S. Post Office Department Building, now the U.S. Postal Museum, in Washington, D.C.
The Pittman Act of 1918 lent silver to Great Brittan and required the silver to be replaced with NEW silver which had to minted as coinage to back circulating silver certificates. Because of his working experience with the coin designers Fraser, MacNeil and Weinman, he became initially known as a medalist and eventually entered the competition held by the Treasury Department and the Federal Commission on Fine Arts after lobbying efforts by ANA member Farran Zerbe resulted in legislation to commemorate the US separate Peace Treaty with Germany.
$20 Double Eagle
Hettie Anderson was born in South Carolina in 1873. She relocated to New York City, where she became an artist’s model, an uncommon employment at that time for a woman of African-American descent. Anderson posed for the Sherman Monument’s figure of Victory in 1897; one of her sittings with Saint-Gaudens was captured by the artist Anders Zorn. Anderson was also the model for the figure of Liberty on Saint-Gaudens’ twenty-dollar gold piece.
De Francisci could not afford to pay an expensive professional, so he asked his lovely, new, 22-year old wife, Maria Teresa Cafarelli, to serve as his model. She agreed because it was the realization of her fondest childhood dream.
She was born in Naples in 1898 and came to the United States at the age of 5. She clearly remembered entering the New York harbor and being awestruck by the colossal Statue of Liberty. As a child will do, she stood on the ship deck and imitated the giant lady. Once she was heartbroken when she was not chosen to play the role in a grade school play. To capture the vigor and vibrancy of her youth, her new husband opened the window of his studio and let the wind blow through her hair. He apparently captured the look that he wanted. For the front of the coin, he sculpted her head in profile with slightly parted lips and windswept hair to be a breathless Miss Liberty. His initials AF were placed at the base of her neckline. For the reverse of the new dollar, he engraved an eagle perched on a mountain peak with the word “peace” on it. The rays of a rising sun emanated in the background.
Walking Liberty Half Dollar and “Mercury” Dime
Elsie Kachel Stevens was the wife of the acclaimed poet Wallace Stevens. It’s generally believed that the Winged Liberty portrait is based upon a bust that Weinman did in 1913 of Elsie Kachel Stevens, wife of well-known poet Wallace Stevens. She and her husband were tenants at the time in a New York City apartment house owned by the sculptor.
The $10 was a reworked head of Nike used on the monument to General William T. Sherman in New York City.
The $5 and $2.50 gold coins were modeled from many images of native Americans but cannot be attributed to any specific individuals.
The 5 cent piece of James Fraser was modeled from composite sketches of Two Moons, a Cheyenne, and Iron Tail, a Sioux Chief. These were 2 of the 3 models. Contenders for the third position are Chief Two Guns Whitecalf and Chief John Big Tree. The Bison is generally attributed to be Black Diamond, a resident of the Bronx Zoo; however, where and when Black Diamond resided has been the subject of much debate.
The numismatic treasures we have from the early 20th century would not have been possible without the collaboration of Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Theodore Roosevelt. They deserve high praise. I began with a prejudice that this Renaissance was a revitalization of an untalented and poorly run mint. But the Barber coinage was a much studied elegant and uniform set of national coinage that was based on many years of coining experience. It followed the Longacre / Gobrecht tradition established in the gold and silver coinage. Barber “stood on the shoulders of giants”.
I have come to the conclusion that this Renaissance can be considered an invasion by “barbarian” artisans who were indeed able to create strikingly beautiful coins BUT they were not uniform, easy to coin or initially responsive to the needs of commerce (stacking). The coinage ignored years of tradition. It is not too difficult to be innovative when you have the endorsement of a dynamic president and are unrestricted by years of tradition and experience.
The Renaissance coinage reflected the optimism and “impudence” of a nation coming into its own. While beautiful they do not have a common visual theme. They are individual statements rather than links in a chain. Barber was by all accounts a difficult and controlling personality. He and Morgan probably would not have embraced change without TR’s forceful approach and we would not have these numismatic gems.
Personally having worked in environments of change, I feel a certain compassion for the Barber / Morgan mint. It was invaded by the barbarian artisans with the endorsement of Roosevelt and perhaps overly criticized by TR. The coinage that replaced the Barber / Morgan designs are beyond question beautiful. We cannot deny them a place of honor in numismatics. They deserve praise.
Conversely we cannot dismiss the studied and classical forms created by Charles Barber and George Morgan. To paraphrase Lincoln — you cannot elevate the state of a poor man by making a rich man poor. Do not attempt to praise the Renaissance coinage by critiquing the Barber designs.
Bibliography & Suggested Reading
|Chicago Coin Company
|Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.
Items shown at our March 12, 2008 meeting.
|April 9, 2008, First session
At the Chicago Bar Association, 321 S. Plymouth Court, 3rd floor meeting room. Please remember the security measures at our meeting building: everyone must show their photo-ID and register at the guard’s desk. To the immediate south of the CBA building is the Plymouth Restaurant with standard sandwiches, burgers and salads for members who want to meet for dinner.
|David Gumm - History of U.S. Large Cents, 1793-1857
Cents and half cents were the first coins struck for circulation under the authority of the U.S. government. Large cents were coined every year from 1793 to 1857 with the exception of 1815 when the availability of copper prevented production. Large cents made up the back bone of mint production and in the first year three separate designs were created. Attend this meeting and learn about the people responsible at the mint, the problems they experienced hiring quality workers, how malaria outbreaks closed the operation during August-September several times and the quest for quality refined copper that would hold up during the coinage production.
|April 26, 2008, Second session
|At the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF), which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. No admission charge for our meeting.
|Bruce Smith - Marco Polo’s Account of 13th Century Asian Money
When he was 17, Marco Polo (1254-1324) traveled to China and returned to Venice 24 years later. The account of Marco’s travels, published late in life, gave Europeans a firsthand view of Asia and stimulated trade with this far away land. Marco’s detailed description of what he saw comprises the most amazing chapters in anthropology, geography and natural history ever penned by a traveler. Included in this great travel narrative, Marco recounted the local money in use and how much was required for goods and services. He wrote that the currency of the Mongol realm was paper money made from the inner bark of mulberry trees and was universally accepted throughout the empire under penalty of death for refusing to accept it. Bruce Smith lived in China, traveled there numerous times and studied Chinese history and numismatics for 35 years. Come to this meeting and see numismatic illustrations from the 13th century that circulated in the lands traveled by Marco Polo. Tradition tells that Marco Polo’s last words were “I have not told half of what I saw.“ When this presentation finishes, members will know that Bruce Smith has not told half of what he knows about Asian numismatics!
|CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - David Gumm on History of U.S. Large Cents, 1793-1857
|69th Anniversary Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Rosemont, IL.
|33rd Annual Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL. Admission is $5 for Friday and Saturday; free on Sunday.
|CCC Meeting - 1pm at the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF),
which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL.
No admission charge for our meeting.
Featured Speaker - Bruce Smith on Marco Polo’s Account of 13th Century Asian Money
|International Primitive Money Society Meeting - 4pm at the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF),
which is held at the Crown Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL.
No admission charge for the meeting.
Featured Speaker - Kerry Wetterstrom on Swedish Plate Money
|CCC Meeting - Featured Speaker - Donald H. Dool on The Bronze Coinage of the French Feudal States
|William A. Burd
|Jay M. Galst
|Paul R. Hybert
|Robert J. Weinstein
All correspondence pertaining to Club matters
should be addressed to the Secretary and mailed to:
CHICAGO COIN CLUB
P.O. Box 2301
CHICAGO, IL 60690
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|- Chatter Editor
The print version of the Chatter is simply a printout of the Chatter web page,
with a little cutting and pasting to fill out each print page.
The web page is available before the Chatter is mailed.
If you would like to receive an email link to the latest issue instead of a mailed print copy send an email to email@example.com. You can resume receiving a mailed print copy at any time, just by sending another email.