Chief Engravers of the United States Mint

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The position of Chief Engraver as a Presidentially appointed position was authorized on April 2, 1792, when Congress established the mint.

Robert Scot

Mint Payroll 1795

Term: 1793-1823

Robert Scot (1744-1823)

His salary in 1795 was $1,200.00 per year. See thumbnail to right. Robert Scot desc 2 cleaned.png

William Kneass

Term: 1824-1840

William Kneass 1824-1840

[1] William Kneass was an accomplished engraver who worked in Philadelphia from 1805 to 1840. He worked predominantly in line engraving but he also produced a number of fine aquatint views. He was a valued member of the engraving firm Kneass & Dellaker where he engraved many fine portraits and book illustrations. In 1824 he was appointed engraver and die-sinker at the U.S Mint, a position that was considered extremely prestigious and indicated his considerable technical ability.

[2] Based upon a biography in the American Journal of Numismatics, July 1883, by Patterson DuBois, a Mint employee, who probably was not aware that Kneass had suffered an incapacitating stroke on August 27, 1835, after which Christian Gobrecht did virtually all new work on patterns, dies, etc. The DuBois commentary is given herewith, excerpted, as it also relates life dates, etc.:

"WILLIAM KNEASS, second of the line, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, September 1781, and was appointed engraver, January 29, 1824. Mr. Kneass had been chiefly a plate engraver for bookwork. There were some changes in the coinage during his term, notably in 1834 and [QDB note: here comes the authority for later work] 1838 for gold, and 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1840 for silver. But some [italics added; should be all] of this work was done by Gobrecht as assistant. Kneass appears upon a pattern half dollar of 1838; but the silver dollar of 1836 as well as a pattern half of 1838 were the work of his assistant. Mr. Kneass is well remembered as an affable, genial 'gentleman of the old-school, who had the rare quality of engaging and winning the esteem and affection of children and youth, in whose companionship he found rich delight. Prior to his appointment he had an engraving office on Fourth above Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, which was a well-known rendezvous for the leading wits and men of culture, for which Philadelphia was then eminent. Mr. Kneass died in office, August 27, 1840. A good engraving of him hangs in the Assayer's Office, inscribed 'to his friend Adam Eckfeldt, Chief Coiner,' who had been chiefly


  • [1] Stauffer, American Engravers on Copper and Steel Vol 1, p. 153-154; Stauffer, American Engravers on Copper and Steel Vol II, p. 275, No. 1648
  • [2] The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Christian Gobrecht

Term: 1835-1844

Christian Gobrecht 1835-1844

Gobrecht, Christian.

The name of Gobrecht, the third person to occupy the post of chief engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, is well known to collectors today and is reflected in such popular terms as Gobrecht dollar and The Gobrecht Journal, the latter being the publication of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club. Among pattern coins his contributions are at once important, beautiful, and extensive. Most familiar are his Liberty Seated coins, first made in pattern form in 1836, and continued across the denominations of half dime, dime, quarter dollar, half dollar, and silver dollar for years thereafter. Throughout the middle range of the last century, the Liberty Seated obverse as well as Gobrecht's perched eagle reverse were used as obverse and reverse dies for hundreds of different pattern varieties, often with the other die being the work of James B. Longacre or one of the Barbers.

Separately, Gobrecht's flying eagle is an American numismatic icon. First used on the 1836 pattern dollar, it later appeared on many other patterns as well as regular issue 1857-1858 cents. Years later, on June 28, 1906, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the famous sculptor who had been commissioned to redesign the entire American coinage spectrum, wrote to President Theodore Roosevelt, stating that for the reverse of the $20 coin he was going to use: "a flying eagle, a modification of the device which was used on the cent of 1857. I had not seen that coin for many years, and was so impressed by it that I thought if carried out with some modifications, nothing better could be done. It is by all odds the best design on any American coin."

Not only did Gobrecht's designs stand on their own, but they spawned many later versions by others, including Liberty Seated figures created by Longacre, William Barber, and possibly even by J.A. Bailly.

Christian Gobrecht was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1785, the son of the Reverend John C. Gobrecht who had come to America in 1755 from Germany. Gobrecht's mother, Elizabeth Sands, traced her lineage to Plymouth colony as far back as 1642. He married Mary Hamilton Hewes on May 31, 1818. After serving an apprenticeship in Manheim, Pennsylvania, he became an engraver of ornamental clock works in Baltimore, later moving to Philadelphia in 1811, joining the banknote engraving firm of Murray, Draper, Fairman, and Company, circa 1816. In 1817, Gobrecht made improvements to his 1810 invention of a medal-ruling machine by which a three-dimensional medal or bas-relief object could be converted to a two-dimensional illustration for use in a publication using a linear process. In 1824, he prepared dies for the Franklin Institute medal of the same date, signed GOBRECHT F. below the bust of Franklin.

He furnished dies to the United States Mint as early as 1826 and in September 1835 was accepted as an assistant engraver to William Kneass. Shortly before, on August 27, Kneass had a debilitating stroke, and all pattern and die work from that time onward was done by Gobrecht, including the creation of the 1836 Gobrecht dollars and, most probably, certain 1838 pattern half dollars (that have been called Kneass heads for many years). From December 21, 1840 until his death on July 23, 1844, he served as chief engraver. He is most famous for his silver dollar design of 1836, featuring the Liberty Seated obverse which would soon become a staple in American numismatic history. This coinage design was based on sketches prepared by Thomas Sully and Titian Peale. The obverse design remained on all silver coins for many years, including the half dime (to 1873), dime (1891), quarter (1891), half dollar (1891), and silver dollar (1873). He also created the Liberty Head (or Coronet or Braided Hair) motif that was first used on the $10 gold coin of 1838, and soon thereafter on the half cent, cent, and gold $2.50 and $5.

Much more could be said about Gobrecht, but as within the year we featured his biography in a special article, we refer the reader to Rare Coin Review #126, November/December 1998, "Christian Gobrecht: American coin die engraver extraordinaire," by Q. David Bowers.

Source: The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

James Barton Longacre

Term: 1844-1869

James Barton Longacre 1844-1869
Longacre's 1835 line and stipple engraving of Daniel Boone, based on a painting by Chester Harding, is a famous image of the American frontiersman.

James Barton Longacre was appointed chief engraver of the United States Mint on September 16, 1844, after the death of Christian Gobrecht. He served in the post until his death on January 1, 1869. Although he was assisted by others from time to time (most notably, Anthony C. Paquet), most new pattern designs made during his tenure were from his hand. He leaned heavily on certain work of his predecessor, as in his use in 1854-1855 of the flying eagle design Gobrecht had used on 1838 half dollars and his use in 1856-1858 of the flying eagle design first employed on Gobrecht's 1836 silver dollar. Also, Gobrecht's Liberty Seated motif furnished an inspiration for certain Longacre seated figures.

However, much of Longacre's work was strictly his own, such as the Liberty Head used on the 1848 gold $1 and $20, the Indian Princess gold $1 and $3 of 1854, the lovely Indian Princess pattern silver coins of the late 1860s (also used by William Barber after Longacre's death), the two-cent piece, the Shield nickel and the vast array of pattern five-cent pieces of the 1860s, and, most famous of all, the Indian Head cent. This is but a short list, and many other items could be added. In total, Longacre's dies were used on hundreds of different pattern coins and trial pieces.

Much of his work is of a high order of excellence, and he seems to have had an excellent sense of proportion. Walter Breen has condemned Longacre for ineptitude, including the creation of many blundered dies, but more likely these date-punching and other errors were done by workmen supervised by Chief Coiner Franklin Peale, not by Longacre.

James B. Longacre was born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania on August 11, 1794. Young Longacre served as an apprentice to bookseller James F. Watson of Philadelphia for a short time, then continued his apprenticeship with George Murray, prolific banknote engraver of the same city who at one time also employed Christian Gobrecht. Longacre set out on his own in 1819 and engraved metal plates for bank notes and book illustrations, including for a work on signers of the Declaration of Independence and another on stage personalities. S.F. Bradford's Encyclopedia, 1820, contains his work. In 1830, Longacre and James Herring laid plans for a series of biographies of famous men in the military, political, and other fields. This took form in the National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, of which the first of four volumes was published in 1834. This last work was published in multiple large print runs, was widely circulated, and brought great fame to Longacre and others whose work was included. Today in 1999, while these volumes are hardly common, a modest amount of time spent in inquiries with sellers of antiquarian books will probably turn up a set.

Through the influence of John C. Calhoun, Longacre was appointed as chief engraver at the Mint on September 16, 1844, to succeed the late Christian Gobrecht. While Gobrecht had been a medalist and coin engraver of high repute, Longacre's experience in the medium of struck pieces was limited or nonexistent. However, he was a talented artist, seems to have learned quickly, and by 1849 created his first major new coinage design, the Liberty Head for the gold dollar and double eagle, this project being quite complex and bringing criticism to the engraver when problems were found with the high relief of the portrait. However, adjustments were made, and the design endured on the double eagle until well into the following century, to 1907.

At the Mint during his tenure, particularly in the late 1850s and through the 1860s, various local engravers assisted him, these including William Barber and Anthony C. Paquet-both of whom became well known-and, less well known, P.F. Cross and William H. Key. The latter had an active business in Philadelphia and produced many store cards, tokens (including many connected with the Civil War series), and medals. Neither Cross nor Key are remembered or cited in the annals of pattern coinage, although no doubt they did some of the work on dies we associate with Longacre.

The chief engraver seems to have had little patience with certain of his associates and superiors in the Mint and thus became involved in several notable disputes. In particular, for a long time he was opposed by Chief Coiner Franklin Peale, who ran his own private business using Mint facilities and who was involved in many shenanigans, until he was fired by President Franklin Pearce in December 1854, after which point Longacre had an easier time.

In 1867, Longacre and Anthony C. Paquet (who worked as an assistant engraver at the Mint, but who was now back in the private sector, but doing contract work for the Mint) redesigned and/or modified certain coins for the government of Chile. None of these motifs bear any resemblance to contemporary American coinage, however. Longacre did other commission work from time to time, quite possibly including certain dies for private California coiners (Dubosq is a strong possibility; the principals of that firm left Philadelphia to seek their fortunes in the Land of Gold).

Longacre remained chief engraver until his death on January 1, 1869. On January 4, at the Mint at noon all the officers, clerks, and workers gathered to pay tribute to the late engraver. Dr. Henry R. Linderman delivered an address, William Barber eulogized, and William E. Dubois presented resolutions. On January 21, 1870, coins from Longacre's estate were auctioned by Thomas & Sons, 139 and 141 South Street, Philadelphia. Included were patterns, Chilean coins, regular issues, etc. Longacre's books, art objects, etc., were scheduled to be sold at a later date.

In 1928 the New York Public Library mounted an exhibit of the work of 100 notable American engravers, including works by Longacre. In October 1985 in The Numismatist, in "Longacre, Unsung Engraver of the U.S. Mint," an article by Tom DeLorey, sketched the biography of this important 19th-century man, an engraver who was misunderstood in his time, but who later became a household word in the numismatic community. The DeLorey text was illustrated by sketches and photographs of patterns, a number of which had not been published earlier.

Source: The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

From 1833 - 1839, Longacre and James Herring published The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, which presented portraits and biographical sketches "of the most Eminent Citizens of our country."

William Barber

Term: 1869-1879 (B. May 2, 1807 – D. August 31, 1879)

Barber, William. Barber became chief engraver at the Philadelphia Mint following the death on January 1, 1869, of James B. Longacre, who had held the post since 1844. He produced many dies for pattern coins during the decade of the 1870s, most notably a large oeuvre of 20-cent pieces 1874-1875, commercial dollars and trade dollars 1873-1876, and silver dollars 1878-1879, among numerous others. His work varies from the ordinary to the inspired, perhaps his 1872 Amazonian silver coins representing his most acclaimed accomplishment in the latter category. For several years after Longacre's death, Barber used Longacre hubs and models to create new varieties of Liberty Seated motifs, later making his own version (which seemed to fall short of Longacre's work). Important to the study of patterns, William Barber was front row center during the most pivotal era of pattern issuance in American history, during the regime of Henry Linderman, during the making and/or distribution of restrikes, irrelevant mulings, etc. No doubt, if he had written his numismatic biography, many secrets would have been revealed. Today, the pattern field is richly endowed with his work.

William Barber was born in London on May 2, 1807, the son of engraver John Barber. He learned the engraving trade at a young age, and in London he worked with the engraving of silver plate tableware and the making of dies for printing cards and labels, the latter for Messrs. De La Rue & Co. In September 1852 he emigrated to the United States.

For the ensuing decade he practiced the engraving trade in Boston. In an 1860 directory of that city we find him located as a die sinker and letter cutter at 8 Congress Square. No doubt he knew Joseph Merriam, James A. Bolen, and other engraving luminaries of the Bay State. Concerning that period in his life, a contributor to the American Journal of Numismatics, October 1879, sniffed: "He was employed in Boston, but could not find much to do in the way of high-quality coins and medals, although there was work making "the inferior class of tradesmen's tokens, political medalets, and the like." That holier-than-thou connoisseur of high quality and coins and medals might be distressed to learn that in 1999, such inferior trade tokens and political medals are more avidly sought after and generally bring far greater prices than to typical medals of the 1860s! During the Civil War he worked for Gorham & Co., maker of silver and gold goods, a competitor to Tiffany & Co.

In 1865 he was hired as an assistant engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, where he worked under Longacre. In January 1869, William Barber was named chief engraver, and following timeworn tradition, immediately hired his untrained son Charles as an assistant. In 1877 Barber's compensation as chief engraver was $3,000 per year.

In August 1879, Barber vacationed at Atlantic City on the New Jersey coast, then as now a popular seaside spa. He ventured into the surf (probably dressed from head to foot, as was the custom in those days), but became chilled. Soon he was wracked by chills and fever. He hoped the illness would be transitory, but it worsened, he was forced to cut his vacation short and return home. On August 31 he died.

A few years later, in the American Journal of Numismatics, July 1883, Patterson DuBois, made the following comment, which was subsequently given wide circulation when reprinted by George G. Evans (he of "gift book" and encased postage stamp fame), in Illustrated History of the United States Mint: "Besides much original work on pattern coins, he also produced over 40 medals, public and private. The work on all of them was creditable, but we may specify those of Agassiz, Rittenhouse, and Henry, as very superior specimens of art. Mr. Barber was assisted by Mr. William H. Key. Charles E. Barber, and Mr. George T. Morgan."

Source: The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Charles Edward Barber

  • Term 1879-1917
Charles Edward Barber

(B 1840– D 1917) Charles Edward. Barber, who became the sixth engraver at the Philadelphia Mint in 1879, following the death of his father, Chief Engraver William Barber, remained in the post until his death on February 18, 1917. Apart from the pattern series, Charles Barber is best known today for his 1883 Liberty Head nickel and the 1892 dime, quarter, and half dollar. He also designed certain commemorative coins and medals. In the present arena of pattern discussion, certain dies of 1879 are sometimes ascribed to his hand, but they are not signed, and at present there is no complete delineation of who did what among the various dies of this year as well as others through 1880, although the Flowing Hair $4 Stella and the various Washlady dies are attributed to him. With some exceptions, it is evident that Charles Barber's work was second in artistic rank to that of his assistant, George T. Morgan.

Charles Barber was born in London in 1840, and in 1852 came to America with his family. His father, an engraver, gained a position with the Philadelphia Mint and in January 1869, following the death on New Year's day of James B. Longacre, became chief engraver. In the best Mint tradition of nepotism, Chief Engraver Barber signed Charles as an assistant, although it seems likely that the younger Barber's talents in this area were modest at best. In 1877 his wages were $4 per day.

In March 1875, Charles Barber married Martha E. Jones. The union produced one child, daughter Edith. Martha died in 1898, and on December 3, 1902, widower Barber married Caroline Gaston.

After his father's death on August 31, 1879, there was an interregnum in which George T. Morgan was being considered for the chief engravership. However, the position passed from father to son, and a few months later Charles E. Barber was named to the post. During his tenure he designed the 1883 Hawaiian silver coinage and certain coins for Cuba and Venezuela. Among commemorative coin dies from his hand are the obverse of the 1892 Columbian half dollar (from models prepared by Olin Levi Warner), both dies for the 1893 Isabella quarter (from sketches by Kenyon Cox, of Brownies fame), the 1900 Lafayette dollar (numismatic historian Arlie Slabaugh has observed that Barber's work is virtually certainly a plagiarism of the obverse of the Yorktown Centennial medal of 1881, engraved by Peter L. Krider), and others. The complexity of sorting out who did what with certain dies is illustrated by the obverse for the 1903 Louisiana Purchase Exposition commemorative gold dollar; Charles Barber is given as the author of the die, but George T. Morgan assisted, and the portrait was copied from an early 19th-century die by Chief Engraver John Reich, who in turn modeled it from a bust by Houdon.

Not even a brief biography of Barber-such as this is-would be complete without mentioning his position as the "enemy" in the "private war" President Theodore Roosevelt had with the Mint in 1905-1907, when the chief executive sought to have a non-Mint employee, famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, prepare new designs for all American coins from the cent to the $20 gold piece, as he felt that, in particular, Barber's current designs for the silver coins were insipid. The observation was hardly new, and in 1895 a contributor to The Numismatist commented: "All the sculptors and artists in the United States have severely criticized the existing coinage. The designs of European coins, they declare, are infinitely superior." The story of Roosevelt's interest, which has been told at length many times in our catalogues and elsewhere, resulted in the creation of the memorable MCMVII High Relief $20, over Barber's strong objections.

His obituary in The Numismatist, April 1917, noted that "the latest coins designed by the younger Mr. Barber were the Panama-Pacific $2.50 gold and the 50-cent silver pieces. Mr. Barber cut the dies for a number of the pattern series, and is said to have possessed a splendid collection of these pieces."

Source: The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

[1} Charles E. Barber (1840–1917) (designer, sculptor, and engraver) was born in London, England, to a long line of engravers. He became the sixth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint.

Mr. Barber's coin work includes the front of the 1903 LA Purchase, Jefferson, G$1, the Columbian Exposition half dollar, the Isabella quarter dollar, the Lafayette dollar, and the Panama-Pacific Exposition half dollar. Medal work includes medals for James A. Garfield, Lincoln and Garfield, Lincoln and Grant, and the World's Columbian Exposition, and presidential medals for Grant, Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, and Taft.


[1] U.S. Mint

George T. Morgan

Term: 1917-1925 George T. Morgan (1845-1925)

George T. Morgan

[1} George T. Morgan, born in Birmingham, England, in 1845, came to the United States from England in 1876 and was hired as an assistant engraver at the Mint in October of that year. He figured very prominently in the production of pattern coins from 1877 onward. To his hand can be ascribed some of the most beautiful of all patterns of the 1877-1882 era, including several varieties of 1877 half dollars, the 1879 "Schoolgirl" dollar, and the 1882 "Shield Earring" coins.

As in the descriptions of the Bass Collection patterns, several references are made regarding Morgan's ability vs. that of William and Charles Barber, the following article by Ted Schwarz, "The Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars," in The Numismatist, November 1975, gives another numismatic view of the situation while imparting the history of Morgan's employment:

"Mint Director H.R. Linderman was just as concerned about [the designs of] the Gobrecht coinage and other designs in circulation as were the people opposed to the [designs of the] current specie. He felt that change was needed, but he also felt that Chief Engraver William Barber, and his assistant, his son Charles, were overworked and perhaps underqualified. He turned for a solution to the London Mint and wrote to the director, 'Could you find us a first class diesinker who would be willing to take the position of Assistant Engraver at the Mint at Philadelphia? We would like a man who could produce a finished hub, and if he understood modeling and also bronzing it would make him more valuable to us. We could pay about $8 per day to a person of proper qualifications. If you know of such a one who would be likely to answer our purpose, I will be glad if you will place me in communication with him.' The reason for turning to the British Mint was explained at the end of the letter: 'The engraving of coinage and medal dies has not been brought to much perfection in this country. In England it appears to have reached a standard equal if not superior to that of any other country.'

"The director of the London Mint, Charles W. Fremantle, replied in part, 'My enquiries as to an Assistant Engraver lead me very strongly to recommend for the post Mr. George Morgan, aged 30, who has made himself a considerable name, but for whom there is not much opening at present in this country. I send a letter from him, to which you will of course reply as you may think best, but I may perhaps just say that looking to Mr. Morgan's real talent, I do not think that he wishes to make conditions which are in any way unreasonable, and that I am convinced you would not find in him any inclination to take undue advantage of such privilege in regard to private work & as you may see fit to concede to him. I may add that he is personally agreeable & gentleman-like, & particularly modest and quiet in manner, so that he would be likely to make an agreeable colleague. You will judge of his qualifications by the work he is sending you, & I can only say that I shall be sorry if we lose him from this country, while I make no doubt he will be a valuable acquisition to yours, both officially and as an artist. It has of course occurred to me that you may think Mr. Morgan too good for the place you have to offer, but I have a strong opinion that he ought not to be lost to you on that account, & that you will do well to secure his services.'

"Morgan's letter described his training and experience: 'I am familiar with the engraving of coin dies, having for several years, assisted Messrs. J.S. & A.B. Wyon." I think I may say that I have a good knowledge of Design & Modeling. I served an apprenticeship to the Die Sinking at Birmingham. From Birmingham School of Art I successfully competed for a Scholarship at South Kensington� during my Studentship I obtained Medals & Prizes for Models of Heads from Life. Figures from Life & Antique Heads from Photographs and Flowers from nature. I believe it is not usual for an Engraver to have a practical knowledge of Bronzing. Fortunately I have a knowledge of this art and could in a short time so instruct an apt scholar that he would be able to successfully bronze a medal.'

"Morgan was indeed hired by the Philadelphia Mint, with the understanding that William Barber would soon be retired so there would be space for the British engraver to use for work. The two Barbers shared an office in the Mint from which they conducted not only government business but also operated their own private engraving firm. With the Mint's knowledge they often used business hours for their private enterprise, wasting the taxpayers' money. The retirement of the senior Barber would enable him to devote full time to his private engraving firm, while also freeing half the office space for Morgan.

"In 1878, George Morgan had a chance to demonstrate his experience and talents. His coin, a variation of the adopted dollar introduced in 1878, had Liberty's head sculpted in a classic style. The only complaint against the design was that Liberty appeared somewhat obese. Charles Barber also submitted a possible design. However, his version showed Liberty fat, rather dumpy looking and appearing to have thyroid trouble. It was far from his best effort. It is interesting to study the reverses of the early designs of both Morgan and Barber. The Morgan eagle, supposedly created in imitation of real life, actually seemed more heraldic in nature while the Barber eagle seemed stately and real. However, that opinion was not shared by everyone. Morgan used Anna Williams, a Philadelphia school teacher, for his model of Liberty. He apparently was enchanted with the woman and called her profile the most nearly perfect one he had ever encountered. The first of the Morgan dollars was ironically presented to President Hayes, the man who had vetoed the act authorizing the coins. The rest began entering circulation rather fitfully. The coins were generally ignored in the northern and eastern portions of the United States, but they were popular in the West and in the South, primarily because the recently freed slaves felt more secure with such 'hard' money than they did with the paper dollars commonly used for eastern business transactions."

Additional information concerning Morgan's coming to America and his relationship with the Barber family is provided by R.W. Julian in a commentary he contributed to Bowers, Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia:

"The Englishman embarked from Liverpool on board the Illinois on September 27, 1876, arriving at the port of Philadelphia 12 days later. The new engraver went directly to the Mint where he received a friendly welcome from the superintendent, James Pollock. The Barbers, father and son, were less than pleased to see Morgan and the reception was correct, but chilly. In the meantime, Fremantle had sent Linderman a number of non-Morgan English eagle designs for contemplation. Morgan then traveled to Washington where he spent a day discussing possible designs for the silver coins with the director. Linderman favored a return to the female head of Liberty as seen on the coinage prior to 1836 and also a strong eagle on the reverse. Morgan well understood that Dr. Linderman would be looking over his shoulder at every step, controlling the exact form the new designs were to take.

"Upon his return to Philadelphia, Morgan was curtly informed by Chief Engraver William Barber that there was no room in the Mint for him to work, and the modeling would have to be done elsewhere. It is true that the Mint was cramped for space in 1876, but Barber could have found room for the new engraver had it been necessary. (Linderman eventually ordered that this be done.) In the meantime Morgan did much of the work at 3727 Chestnut Street, a rooming house that was one of several places where he stayed after his arrival in America. Morgan enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts to enrich his knowledge of American art as well as to meet others in his field. It was at about this time that he was introduced by Thomas Eakins, Philadelphia artist, to Anna Willess Williams, a local teacher. Morgan persuaded her, with some difficulty, to pose for the Liberty head that Linderman wanted for his silver coinage. According to an article in The Numismatist of May 1896, there were five sittings in November 1876. The original designs were intended for use on the half dollar. At the time, no coinage of silver dollars was contemplated."

Following Chief Engraver William Barber's death in 1879, Morgan hoped that he would be named to the post. However, the nod went to Barber's son Charles, a man of relatively few talents in the engraving field. Charles Barber remained in the position for many years, until his death on February 18, 1917. Subsequently, Morgan became chief engraver, but this was late in his life, and his "glory years" had already been spent in a secondary position. He remained chief engraver until his death on January 4, 1925.

The Numismatist, February 1925, carried his obituary:

"George T. Morgan, chief engraver for the Philadelphia Mint, died suddenly on January 4 at his home, 6230 McCallum Street, Germantown. He was 79 years old. Despite his advanced years Mr. Morgan had been active until a few days before his death, when he became ill. Prior to that he had been engaged in modeling a series of medals in commemoration of the secretaries of the Treasury of the United States from Alexander Hamilton down. Mr. Morgan had made the models for and engraved medals commemorating the administration of every president since Rutherford B. Hayes. He collaborated with the country's noted sculptors in designing the country's coinage and, to a considerable extent, in adapting such models to use on postage stamps of all denominations. His work made him personally known to all the presidents of recent times. His employment by the United States government in the Philadelphia Mint covered a period of 48 years. The famous Bland silver dollar was one of his coin engravings. His initials appeared on a large proportion of all the coins issued in the last quarter of a century or more by the Mint. Born in Birmingham, England, in 1845, he studied at art schools in that country, and came to Philadelphia to enter the Engraving Department of the Mint. He brought with him the Englishman's love of cricket as a sport and was one of the founders of the old Belmont Cricket Club in West Philadelphia. He retained his interest in the game to the last and was an active member of the Germantown Cricket Club. He was a man of striking physique and his years sat lightly on him. He was a life member of the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and a member of the Sketch Club. He was for many years a vestryman of Christ Protestant Episcopal Church, Germantown, and superintendent of its Sunday school. He is survived by his widow and three children-Miss Phyllis Morgan, Leonard P. Morgan, who is an electrolytic chemist in the United States Assay Office at New York, and Mrs. C.M. Graham."

In addition to his many pattern coins, Morgan is particularly remembered for his famous "Morgan dollar" which was struck for circulation from 1878 to 1921 and several commemorative coins, plus a vast production of medals.


[1} The Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

John R. Sinnock

John R. Sinnock

John R. (Ray) Sinnock (1888 - 1947) was the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint and designer of the Roosevelt dime and Franklin half dollar, among other U.S. coins. His initials "JS" on the dime can be found at the base of the Roosevelt bust. He also sculpted, although did not design, the Purple Heart medal, and various other medals and commemorative coins.

Sinnock was born July 8, 1888 in Raton, New Mexico and was educated at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. He won the A.W. Mifflin Award for study abroad. Sinnok was well traveled. His long time lady friend was Margaret Campbell who inherited much of his artwork as well as his personal collection of materials related to the development of the Roosevelt Dime.

For ten years Sinnock was an art instructor at both his alma mater and at Western Reserve University. He was appointed Assistant Chief Engraver in 1923.

Gilroy Roberts

Term: 1948-1964

Gilroy Roberts

Gilroy Roberts (March 11, 1905, Philadelphia - January 26, 1992) was a sculptor, gemstone carver, and the ninth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint between 1948 and 1964. He designed the obverse of the United States Kennedy half dollar, which was first issued in 1964. After he retired from the U.S. Mint, he became chairman of the Franklin Mint, where he continued to use his engraving talents. He served in this position until 1971.

Frank Gasparro


Frank Gasparro


Frank Gasparro, 92, Chief Engraver at US Mint

By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times

October 3 2001 - - Frank Gasparro, former chief engraver of the U.S. Mint, whose designs ranged from the Lincoln Memorial side of the penny to the Susan B. Anthony dollar, died Saturday at a hospital in Havertown, Pa. He was 92.

"I've been called the world's richest artist," Gasparro, chief engraver for the last 16 of his 39 years at the mint, liked to say.

The claim did not bend the truth by much because about 50 billion of his Lincoln Memorial pennies have been circulated since 1959. That amounts to $500 million worth of pennies, each with Gasparro's initials etched at the base of the monument. Gasparro also sculpted the model for what was, at least initially, the U.S. Mint's biggest flop: the Anthony dollar. Spurned by the public after its 1979 introduction, the coin languished in federal vaults for years until the U.S. Postal Service began using them in stamp machines. Now it is the mint's most successful dollar coin.

Gasparro was appointed chief engraver by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 and held the position until he retired in 1981. He was the 10th chief engraver in the 209-year history of the mint.

His designs also grace the John F. Kennedy half-dollar and the Dwight Eisenhower dollar, as well as presidential medals for every president from Eisenhower to Jimmy Carter. He designed the mint's bestselling John Wayne commemorative medal, team medals for the 1980 Summer Olympics, commemorative coins for the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympics and coins for foreign governments.

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Gasparro dropped out of South Philadelphia High School at 16 to help support his family. Eventually he convinced his father to let him enroll in classes at the Graphic Sketch Club, which later became the Samuel S. Fleischer Art Memorial, the city's oldest free art school.

He became an apprentice of Giuseppe Donato, an art teacher who had been foreman of Auguste Rodin's Paris studio. Donato and Fleischer later sponsored him at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

After working for the Works Progress Administration during the Depression and then as a freelance artist, he was hired by the mint in 1942.

In 1959, the mint was seeking to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth with a new design to replace the sheaf of wheat that had been on the reverse side of the coin for 50 years. Gasparro, then a junior engraver, was inspired by the classical Greeks when he chose a head-on view of the Lincoln Memorial. His design beat those of 21 other artists.

His original design had the words "Lincoln Memorial" and 13 stars around the outer edge, but those features were nixed by his superiors. They also wanted him to remove the tiny statue of Lincoln from between the sixth and seventh columns, but Gasparro prevailed, arguing that without it the monument would "look like a library."

Neither did his bosses like his initials, which they said would be mistaken for a smudge of dirt. The tiny "FG" is barely visible to the naked eye, on the bottom right edge of the memorial.

Although the penny has been threatened with obsolescence, Gasparro voiced confidence that it will never be retired. He called it "my no-fault coin. Nobody has any problem with it."

The Anthony dollar was a different story, seemingly plagued from the start.

Gasparro went to the offices of the old Philadelphia Bulletin and found two pictures of the early feminist--one when she was 28 and the other when she was 84. His first sketch showed the younger Anthony, but feminist groups said it made her too pretty. Susan B. Anthony III, grandniece of the famous suffragist, complained that another attempt by Gasparro made her ancestor look too old.

The final drawing was Gasparro's interpretation of a middle-aged Anthony. He was sure it would be panned as well. But this last rendering of a stern, determined Anthony was a hit with mint officials and others. It was approved, making Gasparro the only living person to have sculpted both the front and back sides of a general-circulation U.S. coin.

The public, however, hated the new dollar coin. It wasn't as convenient as the dollar bill, and it was easily mistaken for a quarter. By the late 1980s, some 400 million of the Anthony dollars were locked away in federal vaults because no one wanted them.

Its failure, Gasparro acknowledged to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "hurts my feelings."

"He got a little bad press from the fact he designed the Susan B. Anthony dollar," said Ed Rochette, executive director of the American Numismatic Assn. "But that wasn't his fault. The design didn't have anything to do with the lack of circulation. The reason that coin didn't circulate is we didn't withdraw the dollar bill. And people hate change."

Ironically, Gasparro was most proud of a design that was never minted--a "Flowing Hair Liberty," his interpretation of the liberty goddess who appeared on the first U.S. penny, in 1793.

The Flowing Hair Liberty was his original design for what became the Anthony dollar.

Gasparro taught at the Fleischer Art Memorial for 47 years, holding his last class just three weeks ago. "He was in frail health, but determined to teach," said Fleischer director Thora Jacobson.

Gasparro is survived by his wife, Julia; a daughter, Christina J. Hansen; and three brothers.

Frank Gasparro, 92; Chief Engraver at U.S. Mint

PCGS 92854 - Lincoln Cent, Memorial Reverse (1959-Date), RD

Elizabeth Jones

Term: - 1981-1990

Elizabeth James 1981-1990

1981 US Mint Press Release

"THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY; UNITED STATES MINT; PHILADELPHIA, PA. 19106 letterhead, with "The Department of the Treasury 1789" seal and "Office of the Superintendent" on left.




For: Immediate Release October 27, 1981 For further information call: 215-597-9654

Today at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Miss Elizabeth Jones was sworn in as the Chief Sculptor-Engraver of the United States by Director of the Mint Donna Pope. Guests at the ceremony included Miss Bay Buchanan, Treasurer of the United States; Miss Eva Adams, former Director of the Mint; Mr. Anthony Murray, Superintendent of the U.S. Mint, Philadelphia; Dr. and Mrs. Clain-Stefanelli, Curators of numismatics at the Smithsonian Institution; Canon and Mrs. Charles Martin of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; and family and friends of Miss Jones.

Miss Jones was chosen by President Reagan for the position of Chief Sculptor-Engraver and her nomination was confirmed by the Senate on September 28, 1981. She is only the 11th person to hold this office which dates back to the opening years of the Mint in 1792. She is also the first woman ever to hold this position.

The Chief Sculptor-Engraver is responsible for providing designs for any new coin or medal issues of the Mint and for overseeing the many technical aspects of the minting operations involving dies in relation to design.

Miss Jones is a native of Montclair, New Jersey, however, she has lived, studied and worked in Rome, Italy, for 20 years. She brings with her a strong background in medallic art and a free and fresh style of design.

[image of Colonial Minuteman Statue with text “Keep Freedom in Your Future With U.S. Savings Bonds”]

Position Abolished

In 1990 after the resignation of Elizabeth Jones, the post of Chief Engraver was left vacant, and was later abolished in 1996 by Congress, by Public Law 104-208.

On February 3, 2009 Mint Director Edmund C. Moy, appointed John Mercanti to Chief Engraver. It was not to be considered a restoration of the presidentially appointed position, the name change was occasioned by the positions roles and responsibilities according to the Mints Office of Public Affairs. Currently it is considered a temporary promotion, which can be extended annually for up to a total of five years.

Sherl Joseph Winter was appointed Acting Chief-Engraver upon the retirement of Frank Gasparro.

John M. Mercanti

Chief Engraver - John M. Mercanti

[1]John Mercanti was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia College of Art and Fleisher Art Memorial School. After completing his education, Mr. Mercanti served six years in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Since joining the United States Mint team of sculptor-engravers in 1974, Mr. Mercanti has been involved in the creation of many memorable coins and medals. His achievements include the 1984 Olympic gold ten-dollar coin, 1986 Statue of Liberty dollar coin, 1989 Congress Bicentennial gold five-dollar coin, obverse of the 1990 Eisenhower Centennial silver dollar, obverse of the 1991 Mount Rushmore five-dollar coin, and obverse of the 1991 Korean War Memorial silver dollar. In 2004, Mr. Mercanti was sculpted-engraved the reverse of the Dr. Dorothy Height Congressional Gold Medal, produced in just nine days.

Representative Coin Design and Sculpting Credits

  • 2000-P $1 Leif Ericson obverse
  • 2002-W $1 West Point reverse
  • 2005-P $1 Marshall obverse
  • 2007 Jamestown gold obverse
  • 2004 Thomas Alva Edison Commemorative Coin reverse
  • 2003 First Flight Centennial Half-Dollar Clad Coin obverse
  • 2002 U.S. Military Academy Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Silver Dollar reverse
  • 2002 Olympic Winter Games Silver Dollar obverse
  • 2002 Louisiana Quarter reverse
  • 2001 North Carolina Quarter reverse
  • 2001 United States Capitol Visitor Center Silver Dollar obverse and reverse
  • 2000 Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative obverse (U.S. design)
  • 2000 Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative reverse (Icelandic design)
  • 2000 Library of Congress $10 Bi-Metallic obverse
  • 2000 Library of Congress Silver Dollar reverse
  • 1999 American Eagle Platinum Proof reverse
  • 1999 Pennsylvania Quarter reverse
  • 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar obverse
  • 1998 American Eagle Platinum Proof reverse
  • 1997 Jackie Robinson reverse
  • 1997 Present American Eagle Platinum Coin obverse
  • 1996 Smithsonian Institution 150th Anniversary Silver Dollar reverse
  • 1995 Olympic Track & Field Silver Dollar obverse
  • 1995 Olympic Cycling Silver Dollar obverse
  • 1995 Olympic $5 Gold Eagle reverse
  • 1995 Civil War Battlefields Silver Dollar reverse
  • 1994 World cup Half Dollar obverse
  • 1994 Vietnam War Memorial obverse
  • 1992 Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Silver Dollar obverse
  • 1991 Mount Rushmore Anniversary gold obverse
  • 1991 Korean War Memorial Silver Dollar obverse
  • 1991 USO 50th Anniversary Silver Dollar reverse
  • 1991-1995 50th Anniversary of World War II reverse
  • 1990 Eisenhower Centennial Silver Dollar obverse (double portrait)
  • 1989 Congress Bicentennial $5 gold obverse and reverse
  • 1986 Statue of Liberty Silver Dollar obverse
  • 1986 Present American Eagle Silver Coin reverse
  • 1984 Olympic $10 gold obverse
  • 1983 Olympic Silver Dollar reverse

Representative Medal Sculpting Credits

  • J. Edgar Hoover reverse
  • Second U.S. Mint obverse
  • U.S. Mint Director Stella Hackel reverse
  • Hubert Humphrey obverse
  • Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands reverse
  • Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan reverse
  • Fred Waring Congressional Gold Medal obverse
  • Louis Armstrong obverse and reverse
  • Helen Hayes obverse and reverse
  • Leo J. Ryan Congressional Gold Medal reverse
  • Filler tokens for Mint sets obverse
  • President Harry Truman Congressional Gold Medal reverse
  • John Steinbeck obverse
  • Mary Lasker Congressional Gold Medal reverse
  • President George H. W. Bush Inaugural Medal obverse
  • General Norman Schwarzkopf Congressional Gold Medal obverse
  • U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder reverse
  • Persian Gulf War reverse
  • Congressional Award reverse
  • Rabbi Menachem Schneerson Congressional Gold Medal obverse
  • U.S. Mint Director Philip Diehl obverse
  • Frank Sinatra Congressional Gold Medal obverse
  • U.S. Mint Service Award Pins obverse
  • Little Rock Nine Congressional Gold Medal reverse
  • John Cardinal O' Connor Congressional Gold Medal obverse
  • Bicentennial of the White House obverse
  • Ronald and Nancy Reagan Medal Congressional Gold Medal obverse
  • General Henry H. Shelton Congressional Gold Medal reverse
  • Dr. Dorothy I. Height Congressional Gold Medal reverse


[1] U.S. Mint