The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 38, September 23, 2007, Article 4


[Below is the complete press release for the much-anticipated third
and final volume in Roger Burdette's 'Renaissance of American Coinage'
series.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing the book.  Roger's
series is based on extensive and often groundbreaking research into
archival materials related to this key period of change in American
coinage. -Editor]

In 2005 author Roger W. Burdette released his groundbreaking research
book Renaissance of American Coinage, 1916-1921 to critical and collector
acclaim. In August of 2006 the book was honored with the Numismatic
Literary Guild's coveted Book-of-the-Year award.

Less than a year later, in May 2006, a companion volume, Renaissance
of American Coinage, 1905-1908 was released to the delight of collectors
and numismatic professionals. For the first time, Mr. Burdette presented
the story of the Saint-Gaudens-Roosevelt collaboration based on hundreds
of previously unknown documents and design models. In August of 2007
this book was also given the Numismatic Literary Guild's Book-of-the-Year

Many wondered what the author's next work would be and Seneca Mill
Press is proud to announce publication of Renaissance of American Coinage,
1909-1915. As the last of the author's three volume research study, Mr.
Burdette covers the years from 1909 through 1915, thus completing what
may be the most detailed American numismatic research ever undertaken.
Collectors, researchers, historians, curators and catalogers now have
nearly one thousand pages of  carefully researched history into the
most dynamic and creative period in American coinage.

Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 begins with Theodore
Roosevelt in August 1908, now a lame duck President, as he decides
to have medalist Victor David Brenner adapt his Lincoln medal design
for use on the one cent coin. As Brenner repeatedly attempts to add
more coin designs to his commission, Mint Director Frank Leach keeps
things focused on the cent. Finally, he gives up on the artist and
has mint engraver Charles Barber make the last modifications to the
new design – including replacing the artist's name with his initials,
V. D. B. on the reverse. By the time the new cent was released to
the public the Taft Administration was in charge. Its inexperienced
officials, over reacting to newspaper comments, removed Brenner's
initials and precipitate confusion that lasts to this day.

While the issuance of new designs retreated until 1913, the mint
pushed forward with consideration of a Washington five cent coin
design by engraver Barber and a new mint director, A. Piatt Andrew,
brought increased efficiency and controversy to the Bureau.

Andrew is probably the least known or understood director of the
past hundred and fifty years. His drive for modernization and
efficiency resulted in the introduction of new automatic weighing
and press feeding equipment, and created substantial reductions
in employees at the mints. Yet, Andrew also launched an attempt
to confiscate pattern and experimental coins from collectors, and
was responsible for destroying much of the Mint Bureau's artistic
heritage. Throughout these events Renaissance of American Coinage,
1909-1915 continues the tradition of preceding volumes by presenting
copious references to original sources.

By 1911, with George Roberts now back as Director, the mint embarked
on an extensive program of alloy, and coin size and shape experiments.
These were further pushed forward by consideration of the Coinage Act
of 1912 which proposed new denominations and the use of aluminum.
Coinciding with these experiments were the first tentative contacts
between the mint and sculptor James Earle Fraser. Using his talent
and persistent drive, Fraser convinced a reluctant mint to award him
its commission to redesign the nickel, then completely captivated
officials with coin-sized electrotypes and praise for the mint and
its employees. Although interference by a small vending machine
manufacturer delayed the Buffalo nickel's release, President Taft
was able to distribute a handful to Native Americans just three weeks
before he left office.

Commemorative coins issued for the Panama-Pacific International
Exposition are usually discussed in references on such items. However,
these four designs and their artistic freedom are direct predecessors
to the magnificent silver coinage designs of 1916 and 1921. Here, Mr.
Burdette presents not just the usual descriptions, but shows what
some of the rejected designs looked like as well as examining possible
inspiration for Barber's unusually creative work of the half dollar
and quarter eagle. Numismatists will especially interested in the
revealing reports from Treasury officials on Farran Zerbe's efforts
in selling the commemorative coins.

The book also includes a section revealing a cache of Treasury
Department gold coins that was later turned over to the Philadelphia
Mint collection. Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 concludes
with information on the collection curator's habit of providing
specimens of newly struck coins to favored museums.

Like its predecessor volumes, Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915
is a work of superior numismatic scholarship, destined to be a much-used
reference for the next generation of collectors, specialists, dealers
and auction houses. Although this work concludes Mr. Burdette's book-
length publications for the 1905-1921 period, he is presently at work
on a specialized book on Peace dollars.

Special Note:
Production of Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 was
underwritten by Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas.

Renaissance of American Coinage, 1909-1915 by Roger W. Burdette
will be available in hard cover from Seneca Mill Press, P. O. Box
1423, Great Falls, Virginia 22066. The expected release date is
September 15, 2007. The retail price is $64.95 per copy however a
limited time pre-publication offer is available from the publisher
at $44.95, post paid. The offer expires September 30, 2007.

Seneca Mill Press
P. O. Box 1423
Great Falls, VA 22066

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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