Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915

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9780976898627: Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915
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Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915continues the saga of the creation of new, artistic designs for circulating coinage of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt, near the end of his term as President entrusted medalist Victor Brenner with design of the one cent coin, leading to the first circulating coin featuring the portrait of an individual. This was followed four years later by the Buffalo nickel, possibly the most widely known design of any coin. The 1909-1915 period also featured a series of four spectacular commemorative coins including the firs $50 gold coin struck by a U.S. Mint.

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Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 begins with Theodore Roosevelt in August 1908, now a lame duck President, as he decides to have medalist Victor David Brenner adapt his Lincoln medal design for use on the one cent coin. As Brenner repeatedly attempts to add more coin designs to his commission, Mint Director Frank Leach keeps things focused on the cent. Finally, he gives up on the artist and has mint engraver Charles Barber make the last modifications to the new design including replacing the artist s name with his initials, V. D. B. on the reverse. By the time the new cent was released to the public the Taft Administration was in charge. Its inexperienced officials, over reacting to newspaper comments, removed Brenner s initials and precipitate confusion that lasts to this day.

While the issuance of new designs retreated until 1913, the mint pushed forward with consideration of a Washington five cent coin design by engraver Barber and a new mint director, A. Piatt Andrew, brought increased efficiency and controversy to the Bureau.

Andrew is probably the least known or understood director of the past hundred and fifty years. His drive for modernization and efficiency resulted in the introduction of new automatic weighing and press feeding equipment, and created substantial reductions in employees at the mints. Yet, Andrew also launched an attempt to confiscate pattern and experimental coins from collectors, and was responsible for destroying much of the Mint Bureau s artistic heritage. Throughout these events Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 continues the tradition of preceding volumes by presenting copious references to original sources.

By 1911, with George Roberts now back as Director, the mint embarked on an extensive program of alloy, and coin size and shape experiments. These were further pushed forward by consideration of the Coinage Act of 1912 which proposed new denominations and the use of aluminum. Coinciding with these experiments were the first tentative contacts between the mint and sculptor James Earle Fraser. Using his talent and persistent drive, Fraser convinced a reluctant mint to award him its commission to redesign the nickel, then completely captivated officials with coin-sized electrotypes and praise for the mint and its employees. Although interference by a small vending machine manufacturer delayed the Buffalo nickel s release, President Taft was able to distribute a handful to Native Americans just three weeks before he left office.

Commemorative coins issued for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition are usually discussed in references on such items. However, these four designs and their artistic freedom are direct predecessors to the magnificent silver coinage designs of 1916 and 1921. Here, Mr. Burdette presents not just the usual descriptions, but shows what some of the rejected designs looked like as well as examining possible inspiration for Barber s unusually creative work of the half dollar and quarter eagle. Numismatists will especially interested in the revealing reports from Treasury officials on Farran Zerbes efforts in selling the commemorative coins.

The book also includes a section revealing a cache of Treasury Department gold coins that was later turned over to the Philadelphia Mint collection. Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 concludes with information on the Mint Collection curator s habit of providing specimens of newly struck coins to favored museums.

Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 is a work of superior numismatic scholarship, destined to be a much-used reference for the next generation of collectors, specialists, dealers and auction houses. --Publisher's media release

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