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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 40, October 4, 2009, Article 20

ANS COAC LECTURE: AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS AND CHARLES BARBER

Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded this release about a paper to be presented at the upcoming American Numismatic Society Coinage of the Americas Conference by Michael Moran, author of Striking Change: The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. -Editor

On October 10, 2009, award-winning author Michael Moran will present "Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles Barber: Unbounded Egos—Unbounded Conflict," at the American Numismatic Society's Stack Family Coinage of the Americas Conference. The conference takes place at ANS headquarters in New York City.

Moran is the author of Striking Change: The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Whitman Publishing, 2008), which won a 2008 Extraordinary Merit award from the Numismatic Literary Guild.

"Numismatists in this country universally hold Augustus Saint-Gaudens in reverence for his magnificent twenty-dollar gold piece design, the best to ever come from the United States Mint," said Moran. "At the same time they are quick to condemn Charles Barber, the mint engraver, for his seemingly obstructionist attitude in refining Saint-Gaudens's design to a coinable relief."

Drawing from his book, Moran will discuss in detail this conflict between two men of strong egos, explaining its origin in the early 1890s. He will dispel some myths surrounding Saint-Gaudens's award medal for the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, when conflict between the two men turned to outright animosity, spilling over into the New York newspapers. He will also trace the jabs that the two men threw at each other leading up to Theodore Roosevelt's challenge to Saint-Gaudens to redesign the nation's coinage.

"Saint-Gaudens's strategy to keep the engraving of his designs out of Barber's hands collapsed during a luncheon at Oyster Bay, the summer White House, in September 1906," said Moran. "American coin collectors recognize the end result as the Saint-Gaudens twenty-dollar gold piece." Moran contends that Barber's role in making this design suitable for general coinage has been maligned and underappreciated.

"I present the facts in this talk to allow the listener to reach his or her own conclusions," said Moran. "Did Saint-Gaudens bear some of the blame for the problems encountered with his twenty-dollar gold piece design? Was Charles Barber at fault for creating an uncommunicative atmosphere during the process? Is the truth somewhere in the middle?"

Moran's lecture is one of several planned for the symposium, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., October 10. An optional guided tour of the "Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the Metropolitan Museum of Art" exhibition starts at 6 p.m.

The cost of the 2009 COAC symposium and lunch is $125 for ANS members and $160 for nonmembers.

Registration and prepayment are required, by credit, PayPal, or check. Checks should be made payable to American Numismatic Society and can be mailed to Megan Fenselau, Membership Office, American Numismatic Society, 75 Varick Street, Floor 11, New York NY 10013. Fenselau can be contacted by phone at (212) 571-4470, ext. 117, or by email at membership@numismatics.org.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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