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A Pair of Lorillard (Lorrilard) Wise Plaster Models Submitted for the New Rochelle Commemorative Half Dollar

A Pair of Lorillard (Lorrilard) Wise Plaster Models Submitted for the New Rochelle Commemorative Half Dollar

Lorillard (or Lorrilard, as per Don Taxay) Wise was the first artist contacted about producing models for the proposed New Rochelle commemorative half dollar design. Interestingly, the designs and plasters were originally approved only to be highly modified and later rejected entirely with the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) moving to another artist (Gertrude Lathrop; designer of the previously issued Albany commemorative).

A July 20, 1936 letter from Charles Moore to acting Mint Director Mary O’Reilly requested that certain aspects of the submitted design be reworked and, after this was done, a follow up letter of August 17, 1936 to acting Mint Director O’Reilly stated that the models should be approved with some additional modifications. At that time the conditionally approved design featured a Native American crouched along the shore with ship in background on obverse paired with the New Rochelle coat of arms on reverse, which would match the pair of plasters offered presently. Photographs of these plasters are also included in Taxay’s “An Illustrated History of US Commemorative Coinage” on page 197. Instead of smoothly transitioning to coinage production, additional critiques of the designs were ongoing and a complete reworking of the Native American obverse was later submitted as a sketch including merely the shoreline of New Rochelle. At this point the CFA was split as to approving the designs and plans were put into place to remove Lorillard Wise from involvement and to instead go with Gertrude Lathrop for coinage design and production.

The initially approved designs by Wise, included here, offer a very different view of what might have been for the New Rochelle commemorative half dollar. The positioning of the Native American, in an apparent crouch, seems somewhat odd today and this was also the case in the critiques of 1936 as well as in 1967 when Taxay wrote “The obverse featured an Indian who anatomy can only be described as unfortunate.” There are two positions that the word LIBERTY appears on these first-draft models; one obverse has the inscription on the sun and another has it in the vegetation directly behind the Native American. The plaster included here has the inscription on the sun.

The two plasters included are quite clean with a crisp white appearance and essentially smooth, unmarked reverses. They are approximately nine inches across and one inch deep and neither is a perfect circle, but instead each shows irregular borders immediately surrounding the raised borders that encircle the proposed design.

 

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Lincoln Cent Plaster

Lincoln Cent Plaster

LAURA GARDIN FRASER (1889-1966) Incused plaster of proposed replacement for the reverse of the Lincoln cent.

10 1/2″ Diameter. Faded white plaster painted with copper color (as a Lincoln cent would appear).

Ex. Joseph Lepczyk auction of October 23-24, 1980, lot 489, price realized: $2,300.00

Mr. Lepczyk cataloged this piece as: Commemorative One Cent. Incused reverse model. With Oak Tree. Embedded notes on back. “July-27-1951/from July 951 Cast/FINAL.” Pencilled note “Circle enlarged for top of tree.” 10 1/2 inches.

Mrs. Fraser was a very accomplished artist. In addition to the many medallic works she did, Mrs. Fraser also designed several coins. They are as follows: 1921 Alabama Centennial half, 1922 Grant Memorial half and gold dollar, 1925 Fort Vancouver half, as well as the beautiful Oregon Trail half (1926-1939).

With 2009 being the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln cent design, and new reverse designs now showing up, this is a rare opportunity to acquire a true piece of Numismatic Americana.

Offered at: $10,500.00

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Unsigned Plaster Model for the Jefferson Nickel Competition of 1938

Unsigned Plaster Model for the Jefferson Nickel Competition of 1938

A Treasury Department Art Projects Bulletin, No. 14, of 1938 announced an open competition for the design of the new Jefferson nickel. Although the competition was open to the public, there had been a number of announcements already mailed off to known artists who might be interested and capable. The winner of the competition would receive $1,000 and the committee to pick the winner would be composed of Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Mint along with the sculptors Sidney Waugh, Albert Stewart and Heinz Warneke. Two of the major requirements were that the models could not be signed and that any artist that would have liked to have had his or her models returned would have to pay for the return shipping. Additional detailed instructions as to the format and content were included in the announcement. Approximately 390-entries were submitted and, unfortunately, the great majority of those entries have not been found and/or connected to their artists. The winner of the competition was of course Felix Schlag, with Honorable Mention going to Henry Kreis. Kreis is better known to modern numismatists as the designer of the Connecticut and Bridgeport commemorative half dollars and the artist who engraved the obverse of the Robinson commemorative half dollar. Although Schlag won the competition, the final reverse design chosen to be placed into production bore little resemblance to his dramatic three-quarters view of Monticello.

The plaster model included here is without signature marks of any type.  It is a snowy white obverse model with IN GOD WE TRUST behind Jefferson’s head, LIBERTY spaced widely directly above his portrait and spaced widely and centered beneath. The model has very visible, raised guidelines for the letters and numbers and some mild staining by TY of LIBERTY. The reverse and sides are essentially unmarked with a few chips noted near the base, which are not visible when looking directly at the plaster.

The model is approximately 8-1/2 x ¾ inches.

 

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Contact Information

Numismatic Americana Incorporated
P.O. Box 608
Chester, NJ 07930

William Shamhart, Jr.
email: Bill@numismaticamericana.com

Notes on Our Next Show





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