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Renaissance Of American Coinage 1909-1915
by Roger Burdette
September 16, 2007

In 2005 author Roger W. Burdette released his groundbreaking research book Renaissance of American Coinage, 1916-1921 to critical and collector acclaim. In August of 2006 the book was honored with the Numismatic Literary Guildís coveted Book-of-the-Year award.

Less than a year later, in May 2006, a companion volume, Renaissance of American Coinage, 1905-1908 was released to the delight of collectors and numismatic professionals. For the first time, Mr. Burdette presented the story of the Saint-Gaudens-Roosevelt collaboration based on hundreds of previously unknown documents and design models. In August of 2007 this book was also given the Numismatic Literary Guildís Book-of-the-Year award.

Many wondered what the authorís next work would be and Seneca Mill Press is proud to announce publication of Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915. As the last of the authorís three volume research study, Mr. Burdette covers the years from 1909 through 1915, thus completing what may be the most detailed American numismatic research ever undertaken. Collectors, researchers, historians, curators and catalogers now have nearly one thousand pages of carefully researched history into the most dynamic and creative period in American coinage.

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 Ė including replacing the artistís 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 Brennerís 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 Bureauís 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 nickelís 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 Barberís unusually creative work of the half dollar and quarter eagle. Numismatists will especially interested in the revealing reports from Treasury officials on Farran Zerbeís efforts in selling the commemorative coins.

The books 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 collection curatorís habit of providing specimens of newly struck coins to favored museums.

Like its predecessor volumes, 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. Although this work concludes Mr. Burdetteís book-length publications for the 1905-1921 period, he is presently at work on a specialized book on Peace dollars.

Special Note: Production of Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 was underwritten by Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas.

Availability: Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 by Roger W. Burdette will be available in hard cover from Seneca Mill Press, P. O. Box 1423, Great Falls, Virginia 22066. The expected release date is September 15, 2007. The retail price is $64.95 per copy however a limited time pre-publication offer is available from the publisher at $44.95, post paid. The offer expires September 30, 2007.


Seneca Mill Press

P. O. Box 1423

Great Falls, VA 22066