Page 1 of 1

Where is George?

Posted: Sat Jan 08, 2022 9:08 pm
by HawkeEye
Well I was pondering this one the other day and certainly don't know the answer, but here is George working away at his job. In his capacity at the Mint did he in fact personally create some of the VAMs we now collect? In theory he would have been responsible for VAM 1 I would suppose, but did he touch up any dies and create others?
george-t-morgan2.jpg (30.44 KiB) Viewed 873 times

Re: Where is George?

Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 9:26 am
by keilg1
Love the question.

Many people in my world say all artists are 'frustrated artists' in that the pursuit of better never ceases.

My bet, but I'd love to know the exact answer, is I'd not be surprised at all if he was oft to say "Here... lemme fix that little - and incredibly frustrating - little flaw..."

Yet, based on how some of them turned out he might have more often screamed (especially in 1878, 1879, 1880...) "You did WHAT with that acid? Bloody hell, boy, can't you see the havoc you've done to the eagle..."


Re: Where is George?

Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 1:50 pm
by HawkeEye
Well we do know that things other than die cracks and breaks are out there in abundance. Little gouges, scratches, scribbles, etc. Some were done in repolishing dies at the branch Mints for sure, but some had to be done at the Mint before shipment.

Just a little food for thought. How many did he personally touch, or touch up?

Re: Where is George?

Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 6:36 pm
by messydesk
Read the part of the VAM book that discusses the events of 1878 with regard to the development and evolution of the design. Morgan was the designer, but not in charge of sinking the dies. Modifications that he made were to the models so that a good design could be usable for enough coins per die. Retouched wing feathers we see on the 8TF reverses and definitely the S reverses were probably done by someone else after inspecting the working dies and before hardening them for use. These practices were called out as no-nos in 1881.

Re: Where is George?

Posted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 7:39 pm
by HawkeEye
Now that you bring this up, I do remember some of the sequence to design changes and I always assume that he made the models and did the design work.

But was Morgan ever called upon to correct hubs or dies was my question, and if so, did he "tinker" and inadvertently create what we know as "VAMs"? As I remember the hubs had some roughness to them from the reduction process that required the designers or die sinkers to correct before proceeding to subsequent steps in the process.

We know by this point that hand engraving was replaced by reduction lathes, but in "From Mine to Mint" Roger noted a couple of things that caused this question in my mind.

"Accuracy of the reduction depended entirely upon slow rotation of the model and steel, plus precise handling by the operator."

"When the reduction made by the machine from the model was complete, the engraver worked over it to finish all the detail."

The Janvier Pantograph is the popular reduction machine often pictured in Mint photographs, but it was not around until Theodore Roosevelt forced the Mint to buy it. The real reduction machine for the Morgans was the Hill Pantograph which I believe was far less accurate since it might have still been operated by a foot treadle. I also think the engravers had to do a lot more than we understand.

At the time Morgan was at war with the Barbers and working out of his apartment, and I believe he was officially still an engraver. Somewhere, and I cannot find it right now, I thought there was a reference or letter from Morgan about his having actually worked on either the hubs or dies personally. The Barbers would have relegated him to the job of janitor if they could have because his talent probably exceeded theirs and caused a riff.