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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 42, October 18, 2009, Article 8

DICK JOHNSON: NEW MEDAL, NEW BUSINESS, PART TWO

This week Dick Johnson continues his saga of the creation of his new business and a new medal. -Editor

2009 Lincoln plaque E-Sylum readers will recall last week our saga ended with determining the largest size die to strike the Lincoln portrait by Victor David Brenner from his 1907 Lincoln Plaque was slightly larger than five inches. But what to put on the reverse?

Obviously a portrait of Brenner himself. My partner, Mark Schlepphorst, had recently met Don Everhart, one of the engraver-sculptors at the Philadelphia Mint. "I want to commission Don to do the reverse," Mark told me. I couldn't agree more, an ideal choice.

After contacting Don by phone, he agreed to design and model such a Brenner portrait provided he could get clearance to do an outside commission from Mint officials. The three of us began discussions about what kind of Brenner portrait. Then I remember I had a photo in my file of Brenner seated at his work bench. What could be better? I sent it off to Don.

My Mind Was Full of Lincoln He liked it. In our father discussions I mentioned a phase I found researching an article for Coins Magazine in 1971. I even used it as the title "My Mind Was Full of Lincoln!!" Brenner made that statement to newsmen on August 2, 1909 when the first Lincoln cents were released in the financial district of New York City, and newsmen contacted him for comments.

We all three agreed that could be the inscription. Then it was obvious to put a portrait of Lincoln as an ethereal vision in Brenner's mind on the reverse as well. But how could that be portrayed?

We tossed that design problem to artist Everhard. Don met the challenge head on. This modern medallist came back with a sketch that wowed both Mark and myself. We were ecstatic. He even added a touch of charm, encircling the inscription with wheat sheaves from Brenner's original reverse design.

Don Everhart Coupled with Brenner's original Lincoln portrait that led to the Lincoln cent -- everyone knows the story of Brenner showing that Lincoln portrait plaque to President Theodore Roosevelt who instantly wanted it to appear on a coin -- Everhart's reverse design would make a stunning medallic item.

We commissioned Don to get permission and prepare the model. Four weeks later he had the design rendered into clay, working evenings and weekends. The money we agreed to pay him for this commission doesn't began to compensate this highly creative, innovative, professional medallic artist. "Can we do something more for you, can we prepare, for example, your biographical entry for Wikipedia?" He agreed.

After a Sunday morning interview gathering all the data about this artist, I drafted an entry in the Wikipedia format. Emailed to Don for fact checking, then to Mark with a corrected version. He placed this in Wikipedia's "sandbox" -- that is their term -- Mark added the photos and sent it off into Wikipedia's vast databank. Readers can access this at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Everhart

Lincoln die Meanwhile back at the ranch at Medallic Art Company in Dayton, Nevada, Bob Hoff had a die made from the original 1907 mold still residing the firm's vaults since it had been obtained, along with the rights to reproduce it, from Sam Brenner in 1929 (mentioned in last week's E-Sylum).

The die came out perfect. At the same time we had approved Don Everhart's clay model. He cast this in plaster and sent it off to Medallic Art to make the companion reverse die to fit that Lincoln obverse.

Last week I mentioned there were peaks and valleys, elations and frustrations in this saga. This was all peaks and elations. The frustrations were yet to come. There is more to this story. More next week.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: DICK JOHNSON: LAUNCHING A NEW MEDAL AND A NEW BUSINESS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n41a09.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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