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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 7, February 12, 2006, Article 5

VAN RYZIN ON SELMA BURKE AND THE ROOSEVELT DIME DESIGN

Bob Van Ryzin writes: "I interviewed Dr. Selma Burke at
her home/studio in July 1993 in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
At the time, I was managing editor of Numismatic News, and
her claim of designing the Roosevelt dime had been featured
in a Texas newspaper that crossed my desk.

I contacted her good friend for additional details and
support, who then arranged my interview with her.

She was a sweet lady, and I believe she honestly thought
the design on the dime was hers.

She told me of a late night call from a friend who worked
at the Recorder of Deeds office in Washington, D.C., to
inform her that her drawing of Franklin D. Roosevelt for
her Four Freedoms plaque, displayed in that building,
had been sent over for Mint engraver John Sinnock to
examine, and urging her to come to Washington, apparently
in order to stop any inappropriate use of her work.

Her statements on the topic appeared in my November 1993
article for Numismatic News and as a chapter in the now
out-of-print "Twisted Tails: Sifted Fact, Fantasy and
Fiction from U.S. Coin History" (Krause Publications,
1995). The book also has photographs of her drawing of
Roosevelt (done from life on brown butcher's paper) and
the resulting plaque.

As I wrote then, Sinnock had done his own studies of
Roosevelt from life. It seems, therefore, unlikely he
would have even needed to see Burke's work in order to
compose any part of his. However, I'm convinced, Burke
sincerely believed this happened.

She was a great American sculptor and a fine lady,
regardless of whether or not credit for the dime design
belongs with Sinnock."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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