Heath MacAlpine submitted this review of The Private Sketchbook of George T. Morgan. Thanks!
I've had a chance to review my copy of Karen M. Lee's The Private Sketchbook of George T. Morgan America's Silver Dollar Artist. It's a great read, providing an interesting overview of the industrial England Morgan was born in to, his early training as an engraver, his immigration to Philadelphia to take up a position at the United States Mint and his subsequent career as one of our noted designers of medals, pattern coins, commemorative issues and, of course, the great silver dollar that bears his name. A really well done book.
I do have one dispute with the work, however. The cover of the book shows a portion of a wonderful photograph an older Morgan at work on a plaster model; a complete rendering of the photo is shown on page 29 of the book. On the copyright page of the book, a caption regarding the cover states that:
"George T. Morgan is shown (in a photograph provided courtesy of the artist's family) working on a plaster model for a U.S. coin design."
The caption for page 29 is more definite, stating that:
"George T. Morgan at work: adjusting the plaster for his famous silver dollar."
I suspect that both captions are in error. I believe that Morgan is, in fact, putting the finishing touches on the U. S. Mint medal honoring Secretary of the Treasury Carter Glass (U. S. Mint medal list no. 210). I admit that it is difficult to see exactly what Morgan is working on on the cover of the book (its glossiness does not really lend itself to detail) and is only marginally better on the full photo contained inside. I base my conclusion on a much larger, more detailed reproduction of the photo contained on the genealogy website Ancestry.com.
Those with a subscription to the site can find the photo at
If you enlarge the photo to its full proportions and angle your view of your computer screen, it's possible to see the distinctive features of the Glass medal. For comparison's sake, I've attached a photo of the medal from my own collection, as well as a close up of Morgan's signature and date (1922) on that medal. I'd be interested in hearing what other readers of The E-Sylum think.
Again, this is a minor quibble with an otherwise well-made work. I greatly appreciate Ms. Lee's bringing a number of previously unknown Morgan photos to the numismatic community. Now if only someone could find a photo of William Barber.
By the way, if any Morgan dollar collectors find themselves in Philadelphia without anything to do, they can pay their respects to George Morgan and his wife Alice by visiting their graves at historic Woodlands Cemetery; you can find the coordinates at
www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=95266578 . It's a modest little marker. For all the joy he's given and continues to give collectors, you would think he rates better.
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