The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 14, April 3, 2005, Article 12


Web site visitor Joe Spiegel writes: "I was fascinated by the
following passage on your site. I have been studying the
Lincoln penny for years and always wanted to know what
the original penny design would have looked like. Can you
direct me to any photos of the original copper galvano dieshell
for the Victor David Brenner penny, both sides?"

The passage he refers to is in Dick Johnson's submission
on 2009 cent ideas in the July 11, 2004 issue of The E-Sylum
(v7n28). I'll reprint the passage here:

Dick Johnson writes: "Gary Dunaier had the greatest idea for
the 2009 Lincoln Cent! Return to those days of yesteryear
with the original Wheat Reverse by VDB. Use Victor Brenner's
original galvano pattern dieshell! The one in which his full name
is signed on the lower reverse, not just the VDB initials.

This dieshell still exists in the Philadelphia Mint die vaults. I
held it in my hand in 1972 (centennial year Brenner's birth)
when a group of Brenner fans held a centennial exhibit of
Brenner's coins and medals at the Chase Bank Money Museum
then in New York City's Rockefeller Center. We asked Mint
Director Eva Adams if she could send something for this
exhibit. She did! She sent Frank Gasparro, the original
Brenner cent plaster models and the original copper galvano
dieshells for both obverse and reverse made from those
plaster models!

Frank was most gracious. Before he let us put the items
behind the wall of glass in the exhibit room he allowed each
of us to have our photos taken with him, the original models
and dieshells. Then he signed autographs all day long for the
public. Certainly a highpoint of my life.

Unfortunately Frank had to return them to the Mint vaults after
this one-day Saturday showing. (The exhibit continued for
several more weeks however.) But Frank told us this was the
first time the models and dieshells had been outside of Mint
vaults since the 1910 Exhibition of the Contemporary Medal,
also in New York City, at the American Numismatic Society."

[The dieshells are not pictured in David Lange's "The Complete
Guide for Lincoln Cents" (1996), nor did I find anything in
Andrew Pollack's "United States Patterns and Related Issues"
(1994). If they remained locked in mint vaults since the 1972
exhibit, then photos are unlikely to exist. Is anyone aware
of any? A query to Dick Johnson brought the following leads.

Dick Johnson writes: "We sent out a press packet after the
Chase Bank Exhibit in June 1972 which included photos of all
these. I believe some of the photos were printed in Coin World.
I don't remember if it was in The Numismatist, which would be
the easiest to check perhaps. The photos also went to Krause
Publications and Coinage.

I have not unpacked my boxes of photos yet so I cannot say
if I still have the original photos our web site visitor wants to
view. As I recall the original galvano was about seven inches
in diameter, quite thin, and did contain Brenner's full signature
on the reverse at the bottom. Incidentally, it was Henri Weil
who, in 1909, made that galvano at Medallic Art Company for
the artist, Victor Brenner (both in New York City). It had to
meet the artist's approval before he sent it to the Philadelphia
Mint. Obviously he sent both plaster model and galvano shell.

The original plaster models accompanied Frank Gasparro to
that exhibit as well. From my memory: the plasters showed
their age. They were discolored and were the customary
thickness of a plaster model of that period. However, as I
recall, they were remarkably free of chips. The Mint had taken
excellent care of the two models for all the 63 years since their
creation by Brenner.

Perhaps the U.S. Mint could be persuaded to bring these
original plaster models and galvanos out of the vault again
for a Brenner exhibit for the double centennial / bicentennial
celebration in 2009 -- centennial of the Lincoln Cent and
bicentennial of Lincoln's birth.

I could not think of a higher honor for sculptor Victor David
Brenner. His glyptic coin relief of our sixteenth president has
transcended time, changes in artistic style of coin design and
shifts in political management in the U.S. Treasury & Mint

Brenner will have accomplished something by 2009 no other
artist in the world can match -- he created a coin design that
will have been struck every year for a full century! You must
tip your hat to that monumental feat!"

[A search of NIP yielded an entry for an article on Brenner.
in the Numismatic Scrapbook magazine (Vol.39\1973 AUG\
Pg.692). I don't have that issue handy to verify, but since it
appeared late in the following year it may be unrelated to the
Chase exhibit. NIP does not index Coin World or Numismatic
News, unfortunately.

I suspect we'll hear from our readers with counterexamples
of designs that have laster longer than a century (such as the
Maria Theresa coins), but it's a marvelous achievement
nevertheless. -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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