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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 28, July 12, 2009, Article 11

DICK JOHNSON ON THE CONTAMIN REDUCING MACHINE

Dick Johnson forwarded this great submission on the Contamin reducing machine. -Editor
While it was a nice act of George Cuhaj to donate sets of reprint illustrations which appeared in Victor D. Brenner's "Art of the Medal" to the ANA library, their descriptions are not entirely accurate. The illustration of the "Reducing Machine," for example, is not a Janvier, as stated in last week's E-Sylum.

The machine was probably an old Contamin. Brenner even mentioned this name on the facing page to the illustration in the pamphlet. There is the possibility Brenner had acquired one of these old machines on one of his two trips to France (1898-1901; 1904-1906).

ArtMedal001


Contamins had long been replaced by the British "Hill Engraver," and others, at the Philadelphia and European mints. There is record of Brenner having trouble getting a satisfactory die from his machine and he often turned to the Weil Brothers, Henri and Felix, to cut a better die in their New York City workshop. The Weils had imported the first Janvier die-engraving pantograph to America [and Henri had been trained in the Janvier factory, perhaps by Janvier himself] and Brenner was an early customer of the Weils. Brenner also employed their talents for making galvanos and patterns in their electrolytic casting tanks for models he created here in America.

Victor Janvier had worked for nearly a decade (1890s) improving these machines. He came up with a twin-cone mechanism that altered the speed of the spindles, speeding up and slowing down as necessary the two axis's, one controlling the speed of the pattern and the die in synchronous rotation, the other controlling the speed of the cutting tool. He patented his mechanism in 1899, built the highest quality machines possible at the time, thus mints of the world beat a path to his Paris factory to acquire his machines.

ArtMedal002 One illustration in The E-Sylum last week showed Brenner at a press. This had to have been posed. Thank goodness he took off his suit coat and rolled up his sleeves. No self-respecting pressman would ever operate a press in a suit and vest! It is unknown where this press was located. Probably in the shop of "Leidels," a metal stamping shop in New York City that both Brenner and the Weils used at the time.

As for the 1910 brochure The Art of the Medal." I strongly suspect the American Numismatic Society had some influence in its publication. The ANS name appears no where in the original. However it is printed on the same paper, with same card stock cover, and same printer as both the ANS publications for their exhibits in 1910 (coins) and 1911 (contemporary medals). [A Janvier is illustrated in the Introduction of that 1911 catalog -- that very Janvier of the Weil's!]

Brenner's unpaginated brochure [of 46 pages] is a breezy treatment of the subject. He really had to stretch it to make that many pages, some with only one paragraph per page and the last half of the brochure with illustrations of medals probably from ANS collections. But the publication was undoubtedly intended for sale to those who attended either one or both of those ANS exhibitions.

All these publications were printed by Theodore L. De Vine, his colophon appears on a final page of each. Incidentally, Brenner had placed De Vine's portrait -- along with Benjamin Franklin's -- on the reverse a small Openhym & Sons Plaquette of 1902. Small world.

As for The Art of The Medal, get a copy of the September 1982 issue of The Numismatist. The full text was reprinted here.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BRENNER ART OF THE MEDAL HALFTONE REPRINTS OFFERED (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n27a14.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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