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For the EAC experts and early minting gurus-- who is the engraver of the 1793 Half Cent?

LongacreLongacre Posts: 16,717 ✭✭✭
Does anyone know for sure who was the engraver of the 1793 half cent? I was looking at a catalog of a big, venerable, New York-based coin institution (who gave Longacre the cold shoulder last week image ), and they wrote the following about this half cent:

"The 1793 half cent has always been in the limelight as the only year of this distinctive design type. Miss Liberty, with a cap on pole behind her head, is facing to the left, in opposition to the same design found on the 1793 Liberty Capped cent, where she faces to the right. The engraver of the half cent die is not known with certainty, but may have been Joseph Wright, to whom is attributed the 1793 Liberty Cap cent, and the 1792 Eagle-on-Globe pattern quarter. However, the depiction of Miss Liberty on the half cent is not as delicate as on the cent."


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(1) Is the engraver of this half cent the subject of controversy?
(2) There must be some basis for assuming that it is Wright. Does anyone have other details as to why it is thought to be Wright?
(3) Do you agree that the half cent depiction is not as "delicate" as the one on the cent?
Always took candy from strangers
Didn't wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss every night and day
--"Happy", by the Rolling Stones (1972)

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    According to Karl Moulton it's Bob Birch and Joseph Wright.
    OLDER IS BETTER
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    notwilightnotwilight Posts: 12,864 ✭✭✭
    From memory, there was a yellow fever plague in late summer 1793 that killed lots of important people in Philadelphia, wright being one of them...so it wasn't clear ifhe got it done before his death or his replacement (or maybe one of the other guys working there). I think he worked there only about a month before his death.--Jerry
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    This is very helpful...thank you.
    -Rome is Burning

    image
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    RYKRYK Posts: 35,789 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>From memory, there was a yellow fever plague in late summer 1793 that killed lots of important people in Philadelphia, wright being one of them...so it wasn't clear ifhe got it done before his death or his replacement (or maybe one of the other guys working there). I think he worked there only about a month before his death.--Jerry >>



    As an aside, my son, who just finished third grade, must read four books this summer from a reading list. One of the books on the list is Fever 1793, a historical fiction account of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 throught the eyes of a sixteen year old girl. I flipped through the book, and it seemed rather ambitious for my nine year old, especially having learned in another thread that my son does not have adequate reading skills. image Nonetheless, it looked so interesting that we are both going to read it (I am not sure that my reading skills are up to snuff, but I will give it the old college try image ).
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    NysotoNysoto Posts: 3,771 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 24, 2017 10:51AM

    An important article by Bill Eckberg in the Numismatist and also in the E-sylum July 30, 2017 http://www.coinbooks.org/v20/esylum_v20n31a15.html .

    Using Photoshop overlays, Eckberg identified the 1792 Disme and the 1793 half cent as having an identical portrait, which can only be accomplished with the use of a hub (also called device punch). This is the earliest use of hubbing at the US Mint, although Abel Buell previously used the hubbing process on some Connecticut coppers.

    Eckberg attributes the engraver of the 1793 half cent to Chief Coiner Henry Voigt. There is contemporary evidence for this, as per the Coinage Act of 1792 "it shall be lawful for the functions and duties of the Chief Coiner and Engraver to be performed by one person." Voigt had previously worked as a watchmaker, which requires some engraving with the internal mechanism and decorative work. Elias Boudinot also stated on 2-9-1795 "a considerable time before an engraver could be engaged, during which, the coiner [Voigt] was obliged to make the dies for himself."

    Edit - It is also important to note this information from the recent book 1792: Birth of a Nation's Coinage , a letter from Jefferson to Washington regarding Voigt on 6-9-1792 "He is no engraver himself, and it is therefore proposed that he shall consider the cost of engraving dies as a charge to be deducted from his salary of 1500 Doll." Authors Augsburger, Orosz, and Smith conclude this was the reason why there are no payment records for engraving to Birch and Wright.

    Another edit - there are several Mint records of payment to Bob Birch in 1793, but none of these specify engraving.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty - biography of US Mint's first chief engraver
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    kazkaz Posts: 9,067 ✭✭✭✭✭

    fascinating article!

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting.... I am always surprised how little tidbits of information surface... even over 200 years later, that provides information to add to our knowledge of coin development. When we find such things, it also makes me lament how much information must be lost as well...Cheers, RickO

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