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Longacre - Two Hard Wax Models

lilolmelilolme Posts: 2,455 ✭✭✭✭✭

So I was watching this one. When it went to $4600 hammer early in the bidding I knew it was going beyond my limit. It was already there at $9000 hammer going into the live bidding. It was just getting started and ended at $28,000 hammer ($33,600 all in).
HA - Bender Part III Feb 9, 2023

https://coins.ha.com/itm/three-dollar-gold-pieces/three-and-four-dollar-gold/original-wax-engravings-on-copper-disks-pcgs-8017-/a/1357-3669.s?ic4=OtherResults-SampleItem-071515&tab=ArchiveSearchResults-012417

Two Hard Wax Models
Prepared by James B. Longacre
The Indian Princess and Agricultural Wreath
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Original Wax Engravings on Copper Disks. This renowned, framed set of original James B. Longacre wax models is both aesthetically pleasing and numismatically important. Intricately rendered by Longacre's hand, the wax models represent an early step in the mid-1850s die making process, where they were critical to both the creative design and the successful completion of satisfactory steel hubs. Longacre was a deliberate engraver and always meticulous in his work. The wax models allowed him to finalize his initial sketches, creating three-dimensional wax motifs that were several inches in diameter -- much larger than their final size, and an essential requirement for ease in workmanship.

Once the wax models were complete, they were cast in plaster. The hardened plaster casts served as molds, into which molten metal was poured to create a usable copy of the original artwork. The metal copies were a necessary step before being transferred the Contamin portrait lathe for reduction and eventual preparation of a steel master die.

The Indian Princess portrait and the Agricultural Wreath designs were Longacre's contributions not only to the three dollar gold piece in 1854, but also to the redesigned gold dollar. Type Two gold dollars feature the Agricultural Wreath reverse, which was then carried over to Type Three gold dollars employing Longacre's Indian Princess obverse (in use from 1856 through the series end in 1889). The elegant Agricultural Wreath also appears on Flying Eagle cents dated 1856 through 1858. Rick Snow once owned these models, later purchased from him by Tom Bender via Brian Wagner.

These wax enlargements are preserved an attractive, well-made wooden frame measuring 13 3/8" wide x 8 3/8" tall x 1 7/8" deep. A thick, cream-colored matte surrounds the wax models with circular, beveled openings, each measuring 3 5/8" in diameter. The wax engravings sit on heavy copper disks, each securely supported by the custom frame. These Longacre wax models may or may not have been used to create iron castings for the reducing lathe. They are plated on page 31 of United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889 by Q. David Bowers with Douglas Winter. The Agricultural Wreath model is plated in Rick Snow's The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide (3rd edition, Volume I) on page 22.
From The Bender Family Collection, Part III.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2YNufnS_kf4 - Mama I'm coming home ...................................................................................................................................................................... RLJ 1958 - 2023

Comments

  • DCWDCW Posts: 6,973 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I love it! Special piece that someone will make the highlight of their man cave or "she-shed." Interesting that two of our forum members were previous owners.
    Question, and it may be an idiotic one:
    Is the wax bonded to the metal discs or was it used as a mold to strike this. I picture myself looking up at my prized possession on a hot summer day to find a frame full of bubble gum. 😆

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

  • That is a beautiful piece of history

    Seems like the final price is low!

  • dsessomdsessom Posts: 2,212 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That is a real piece of history! Stuff like that is way beyond my means, but it sure is nice to be able to see photos and learn about it.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Now that is a really nice piece of numismatic art.... and impressive history of ownership (including forum members) as well. Cheers, RickO

  • jacrispiesjacrispies Posts: 713 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's pretty darn cool! I wasn't aware of these, thanks for sharing.

    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 6:23. Young fellow suffering from Bust Half fever.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,545 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DCW said:
    I love it! Special piece that someone will make the highlight of their man cave or "she-shed." Interesting that two of our forum members were previous owners.
    Question, and it may be an idiotic one:
    Is the wax bonded to the metal discs or was it used as a mold to strike this. I picture myself looking up at my prized possession on a hot summer day to find a frame full of bubble gum. 😆

    The discs appear to be mint medal planchets, though one of them is brass-streaked and laminated on the back side. I assume it was a reject from the medal department.

    My best guess is that molten wax was poured onto the discs and allowed to harden, then hand carved away.

    I was always terrified of handling them. I don’t know how fragile the wax is. I transported them from Michigan to Colorado by car in the dead of Winter, and from Colorado to Illinois in the heat of Summer, both times well padded inside an ice chest to minimize temperature changes.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • renomedphysrenomedphys Posts: 3,501 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ve seen these a couple of times. Rick Snow was sitting next to me at lot viewing and with one look at the presentation, he said “Why couldn’t I have done something like that?” The frame looked fantastic! The hardest thing about bidding on them was the fear of custodianship. Rick even said as much. Can’t get them hot, can’t get them cold, must treat them gently for fear that the wax might fall off the discs. Still, I wish I had been the winner, and I would have treated them with the respect they deserve. I’m sure the new owner will as well.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,545 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here are Heritage's images of the two sides.

    Note the top of the wreath, the last agricultural items on either side. Quite different than what is on the coins derived from the model. I believe that the fine details got lost in the design transfer on the engraving lathe, and so Longacre touched up the Master Dies to put rows of dots back in. Also note that they touch.

    TD

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,545 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I sold them to Rick Snow. If the new owner would care to contact me, I would be happy to share information about where I got them.
    TD

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,479 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I read about these in a book about the $3 gold piece years ago. I didn’t know that they still existed. I have an interest in this sort of thing, but I would not have made that much of a financial commitment.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • DCWDCW Posts: 6,973 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    I sold them to Rick Snow. If the new owner would care to contact me, I would be happy to share information about where I got them.
    TD

    Respectfully, would you share that with all of us, too? 🙏
    (Unless you busted them out of the Smithsonian!)

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,545 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @DCW said:

    @CaptHenway said:
    I sold them to Rick Snow. If the new owner would care to contact me, I would be happy to share information about where I got them.
    TD

    Respectfully, would you share that with all of us, too? 🙏
    (Unless you busted them out of the Smithsonian!)

    I suppose that after all these years it does not matter, and since there is a good chance that this thread will be referenced in future, it would be a good idea to get the information on the record.

    I bought the Longacre $3 wax models from the renowned Michigan collector Max Brail. We had been chatting about this, that and the other at the ANACS table at the 1983 Michigan State Numismatic Society Fall convention in Dearborn, and somehow they came up in the conversation. Either there or shortly thereafter he decided that I would be a good home for them, and so he asked me if I would like to buy them. I did, we agreed upon a price, and that Christmas I drove home to Detroit to visit my family. While in the area visited him at his home to make the purchase. I brought along a small ice chest, a lot of bubble wrap and some duct tape. They survived the return trip unharmed.

    While I was at his home, he told me that Walter Breen had told him that he had once seen the Longacre models in the possession of a clergyman collector from Philadelphia, which would make perfect sense since that was where Longacre had worked. I don't think that Max told me who he had purchased it from.

    TD

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • Dr_BonesDr_Bones Posts: 67 ✭✭✭

    Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing @CaptHenway

    Visit USPatterns.com

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