From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

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keilg1
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From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by keilg1 » Sun Nov 27, 2022 5:13 pm

Quick research question and sorry this might be well known information to some (but not to me): Many, if not most (or all?) of the pattern coins George was working on had 7 tail feathers (http://ec2-13-58-222-16.us-east-2.compu ... an_Pattern) but come March 11th 1878 the series began with the VAM-9 flavor...

How/why did the run begin with the 8 tf and when did the master die come into existence? Bland-Allison Act was only enacted following the override of Hayes' veto on February 28th...

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messydesk
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by messydesk » Sun Nov 27, 2022 6:57 pm

I flipped through Morgan's sketchbook to see if there was evidence of him wanting a specific number of tail feathers at a certain point, and there wasn't. Eight may have just looked better than seven on that iteration of the reverse die. Had they not been pressed into production when they were, the 8TF reverse might have just been another pattern along the way to the C reverse.
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keilg1
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by keilg1 » Mon Nov 28, 2022 9:58 am

Makes me wonder if Barber (dad, William) had a hand (literally or metaphorically) in the decision to run with 8 at the start (assuming their relationship was less than amicable) and Barber wanted to insert his superiority (at least in his job description) somehow.

Quick decision time, too, to shift to 7 as the final/rest-of-the-year approach, because the working dies that were sent to San Fran and Carson City all were only 7 tf (B1 or B2) versions?

Prompting other questions about how long the 8 tf dies were used - i.e., between March and... April? May? Later (doubtful)?
When were the 7/8 transitional dies produced and how long did they last and between which months, assuming the use was a simple linear process: i.e., start with 8 until all the dies died, use the transitional 7/8 until they died, then use only 7tf B1s, then B2s, then Cs...?

RogerB
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by RogerB » Mon Nov 28, 2022 2:30 pm

You'll find some of your answers in my book "Girl on the Silver Dollar."

As for William Barber - he and Morgan prepared competing designs for the standard silver dollar. Morgan's was selected largely because the relief was lower. President Hayes examined pattern pieces of both designs in December 1877. Changes were made to Morgan's design - mostly the reverse - in January and early February 1878 based on recommendations from A. Loudon Snowden.

More details of the design are available now than 50 years ago when the VanAllen-Mallis book was written. The background could benefit from a complete, update and rewrite.

PS: The obverse portrait most closely resembles Morgan's wife. He brought the models with him in 1876.

keilg1
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by keilg1 » Mon Nov 28, 2022 3:02 pm

Thanks, @RogerB! I'd say I have a copy of the book but that'd only be partially true - it is in Wyoming with my father (who loved it) and I'm in the UK awaiting its transit to me (eventually). Same for the 'big book' I bought years ago so I'm without the luxury of that one, too...

Appreciate the added details. I thought of Snowden a few years ago as my wife and I hiked up Mount Snowden in Wales (wondering if there is a link between his surname and the UK?). The locals here like to hear that both Barber and Morgan were Brits...

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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by RogerB » Mon Nov 28, 2022 3:15 pm

William and son Charles, and George Morgan were Brits. George was the better, and all were more accomplished at die work than any American artists. Creatively, they were all 2nd tier and would have had a very difficult time finding work in Europe. The US Mint further "cloistered" them and none grew artistically during their careers....But, none of the US Mint engravers were especially creative. They had the primary task of producing mechanically functional master dies. This was different from the European approach where 1st class artists made designs and master die sinkers turned them into coins. (Similar to the US "Renaissance of American coinage" period, but with better results.

Glad to hear for Dad liked the book!

The US Snowden family was an extension of the English clan, but I don't know the details. It starts before the Revolutionary War.

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messydesk
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by messydesk » Mon Nov 28, 2022 3:20 pm

keilg1 wrote:
Mon Nov 28, 2022 9:58 am
Quick decision time, too, to shift to 7 as the final/rest-of-the-year approach, because the working dies that were sent to San Fran and Carson City all were only 7 tf (B1 or B2) versions?

Prompting other questions about how long the 8 tf dies were used - i.e., between March and... April? May? Later (doubtful)?
When were the 7/8 transitional dies produced and how long did they last and between which months, assuming the use was a simple linear process: i.e., start with 8 until all the dies died, use the transitional 7/8 until they died, then use only 7tf B1s, then B2s, then Cs...?
There was overlap between the designs. VAMs 85, 86, and 80 were made before VAM 22. VAM 43 was made before VAM 21. VAM 211 shares an obverse with VAMs 128 and 194 (formerly 210A, 131B, and 195A, respectively), but not sure which came first.
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keilg1
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by keilg1 » Tue Nov 29, 2022 7:50 am

Classic quote to extend @RogerB's comment about the artistic abilities of some of the players involved in our (non-darkside) hobby. This one from none other than the incredible sculpter and designer of multiple stunning coins, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

In wrtiting to President Theodore Roosevelt, ASG makes his option blisteringly clear:
“[Barber] cannot possibly do an artistic work. He is a commercial medallist with neither the means nor the power to rise above such an average.”

Ouch.

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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by messydesk » Tue Nov 29, 2022 3:27 pm

keilg1 wrote:
Tue Nov 29, 2022 7:50 am
Classic quote to extend RogerB's comment about the artistic abilities of some of the players involved in our (non-darkside) hobby. This one from none other than the incredible sculpter and designer of multiple stunning coins, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

In wrtiting to President Theodore Roosevelt, ASG makes his option blisteringly clear:
“[Barber] cannot possibly do an artistic work. He is a commercial medallist with neither the means nor the power to rise above such an average.”

Ouch.
Roosevelt turned it up a notch with his comment in a letter to Treasury Secretary Shaw, "I think our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness. Would it be possible, without asking permission of Congress, to employ a man like Saint-Gaudens to give us a coinage that would have some beauty?”
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Re: From patterns to a VAM-9 launch - any historical info?

Post by RogerB » Thu Dec 01, 2022 5:01 pm

This letter supports some of the problems relating to Charles Barber and Morgan in preparing dies for designs by non-Mint artists. This refers to the Francis Joseph medal designed by Bernard Saint-Gaudens and requested by the Library Committee of Congress.

February 22, 1889

Mr. R. W. Gilder
New York City

Dear Sir:
Referring to your of February 13th, I have to say that the medal referred to could be construed to come under the definition of medals of a national character as provided in Section 3551 Revised Statutes, which also provides for the preparation of dies. The mechanical reduction could be undertaken (by pantograph) and a single set of dies prepared, or perhaps two sets of dies. As to the time it would require to make the reduction and prepare dies, I am unable to give you a definite answer, as such work could not be allowed to interfere with the regular work of the Mint. Two hundred copies of the reduced medal, in bronze or silver, could be struck at such a cost for work and material as shall be considered to be in accord with the usual scale of prices for medals regularly struck at the Mint at Philadelphia.
With regard to the artistic or mechanical execution of the work no responsibility can be undertaken to satisfy the artist, and for this reason I am not sure that it would not be to your advantage to have the work done by a private establishment, so as to be more under the control of Mr. St. Gaudens [sic].
I may also remark that the personal equation of such work, in this case, might be against the very best results, as the personal disposition of the engravers at the Mint does not seem to be in favor of doing justice to designs prepared outside. Nevertheless, if it is decided to entrust this work to the Mint at Philadelphia I will endeavor to see that it be as well done as practicable, without, as I said before, assuming any responsibility for the character of the execution.
Respectfully yours,
James P. Kimball
Director of the Mint


Note that President Roosevelt's comment about US coinage did not refer directly to the then-current engraving staff at the Mint. Similar comments had been made by others going back to the first national issues.

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