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The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 17, April 25, 2010, Article 13

ROBERT SCOT & THE DRAPED BUST DESIGN

William Nyberg submitted this item on Robert Scot and the Draped Bust coinage design. -Editor

The recent discussion initiated by Jim Wells on the Draped Bust design has been very interesting. I have been researching Robert Scot for several years and am in the process of writing a biography on Scot. The book will include many illustrations and a register of more than 250 individual engravings by Scot, in addition to his work for the United States Mint. All sources will be fully referenced. Scot's engraving was very much in demand, at times he worked seven days a week. Scot also trained many apprentices and assistants who went on to become prominent engravers of their own firms. Thomas Jefferson assessed Scot's engraving on October 21, 1780, stating "The workmanship was extraordinarily good."

This is an example of an original Scot copperplate engraving from my collection, both engraved and printed by Scot in 1791, The Motion of Venus and Mercury in respect to the Earth. Having been trained in technical drawing, I appreciate the high degree of skill needed to create this engraving using 18th century tools:

Scot's Motion of Venus and Mercury in respect to the Earth

Scot phila Drapery designs were described and then illustrated by Robert Scot before his appointment to the Mint, similar to the draperies used on the Draped Bust coin design, "The drapery must not fit too close to the parts of the body: but let it seem to flow round, and as if it were to embrace them; yet so as that the figure may be easy" etc. Also included on some illustrations was a clasp or "ornament" similar to John Reich's engraving of the Capped Bust design. This information along with pictures and references will be included in my book. These are the probable source of the Draped Bust design, using draperies of classic Greek origin, not contemporaneous American fashion.

Gilbert Stuart did not use this style of drapery in portraits of Anne Bingham. A Stuart family relative informed John Ross Snowden that Gilbert Stuart provided a drawing used for the Draped Bust coinage. The information given to Snowden was more than a generation after the fact from an unidentified relative, with no recorded mentioning of Anne Bingham. I concur with the opinion of R. W. Julian given on 4/11/2010, "the chances of Anne Willing Bingham's portrait having been used for the coinage are slight at best." Without contemporary documentation, it remains a myth that should not be stated as fact.

As an addition to the discussion on John Eckstein, he was also listed in Browere's Life Masks of Great Americans, Charles Henry Hart, 1899. John Eckstein was included as one of the few late eighteenth century artists from the United States who created models ("modelling") using plaster, although his work was described as "of mediocre ability." I believe Eckstein's "models" were as stated - models by a person known to create models using plaster, to be used as reference for the important Draped Bust and Small Eagle design change. For the new design, Robert Scot would need considerable time to create all of the new master hubs for the many denominations of the Draped Bust.

This was a remarkable accomplishment as Scot had engraved dies for ten denominations by 1796, with assistance from John Smith Gardner. The February 1795 Mint job description for Engraver indicated the terminology used for the hubs and dies and does not include the word "model": "The Engraver, whose actual duties are the raising and furnishing all punches that are requisite for completion of the dies, the engraving and sinking all original dies, and raising all hubs that are struck out of them. He has an assistant, occasionally, as the business is urgent."

Karl Moulton made this statement on 4/18/2010, "In the 18th and 19th centuries, engravers did not have to work at, or be at, the Mint. This is evidenced by Scot having John Reich work on dies 'for the national coin' several years before he was appointed as the assistant engraver in April of 1807. This is brought out in the 1884 three volume set titled, 'The History of Philadelphia' by Scharfe and Westcott."

The quotation in the Scharf and Westcott book did not state that Reich engraved coinage dies several years prior to 1807. The complete sentence from page 1064 reads, "John Reich, of whom Dunlap says that he was 'the best artist in his line that Philadelphia had had,' was a die-sinker, frequently employed by Robert Scot, the engraver of the United States Mint, to prepare the dies for the national coin."

The paragraph goes on to describe medals, not coinage dies, engraved by Reich before his employment with the US Mint in 1807. William Dunlap was used as a reference, in his 1834 work History Of The Rise And Progress Of The Arts Of Design In The United States he gave hundreds of brief biographies of early American artists. While Dunlap's book is a good historical reference, there are many errors in the details including Robert Scot's description.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: KARL MOULTON ON JOHN ECKSTEIN, ENGRAVER (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n16a09.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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