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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 15, April 10, 2005, Article 21

FOUNDRY CASTS OF 1932 WASHINGTON QUARTER DESIGN

The April 13th Coin Galleries sale features a pair of obverse/
reverse bronze foundry casts of a proposed Washington quarter
design from the 1932 design competition. The designer isn't listed,
but it's a beautiful coin design. Can anyone shed more light on
who might have designed it? Was a list of the contest entrants
ever published? My guess is that this piece was designed by Laura
Gardin Fraser. I asked Roger Burdette about the competition, and
he responded:

"Parts of the 1931-32 quarter competition files exist in NARA
holdings in College Park, MD. I have only gone through the files
briefly, but did note that Treasury did not want to consider a
commemorative because President Hoover said he would veto
any commemorative coin legislation. However, the president also
said he would support replacing the Standing Liberty quarter,
which was unpopular with Treasury officials due to poor wearing
characteristics.

It may be possible to identify the "Foundry Quarter" artist by
checking the competition correspondence. Many of the letters
have drawings on them or attached, and some include long
descriptions. The casts would have cost about $25 each, so I
suspect the artist was someone in the mainstream of active
sculptors. The eagle seems a little "odd" to me - almost a
hybrid of Art Deco and classical, especially in the feather work."

[While confirming the spelling of Laura Fraser's middle name,
a web search located a page with several nice photos of
her and her husband James Earle Fraser, designer of the original
Buffalo nickel. The page is on the web site for the collection of
the James Earle Fraser & Laura Gardin Fraser Studio Papers
at the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center,
which serves as the library and archives of the National Cowboy
& Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

>From the web site: "The records, reflected in this guide, are those
that were included in the acquisition of items from the Frasersí
Westport, Connecticut studio in 1968. The studio collection
also included heroic-size plaster statues, plaster models of medals
and coins, studio furniture, filing cabinets, artist tools, and books.
The collection was acquired in order to re-create a studio as a
memorial to the Frasers with the statue End of the Trail as its
centerpiece. Other statuary includes Meriwether Lewis, William
Clark, Daniel Boone, John James Audubon, Abraham Lincoln,
General Robert E. Lee, and General Stonewall Jackson.

Library items were cataloged and incorporated into the Centerís
library holdings. The papers, though incomplete, do convey
important information about these artist's lives and careers."

"Among the added materials were photocopied documents from
the James Earle & Laura Gardin Fraser Papers, 1872 - 1967
held by Syracuse University. "

Follow these links to the images and the archive home page.
One image is of Laura Gardin Fraser working on the clay model
for the Better Babies medal, created for Woman's Home
Companion magazine, ca. 1913. I'd never heard of this medal
until now - does it turn up in the numismatic marketplace?

Image
Image

The archive consists of 17 cubic feet of material! -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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