With permission, republished below is Len Augsburger's review of the latest issue of Roger Burdette's Journal of Numismatic Research from the April 2013 issue of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club's electronic newsletter, The E-Gobrecht.
This month we review the
latest edition of Roger
Burdette's Journal of Numismatic
current issue, Spring 2013,
is dedicated to Franklin
Peale's technical contributions to the U.S. Mint. By
way of background, Peale was employed by the Mint
from 1833 to 1854, and served as chief coiner from
1839 until the end of his employment.
Peale's first assignment
at the Mint was to survey the European Mints
for technological advances, and for this he was dispatched
on a two-year journey to the Old World. U.S.
Mint Director Samuel Moore was particularly interested
in the process of separating gold and silver, and in improving
the assay of silver deposits. Peale delivered on
this and much more. Burdette does a deep dive into a
dozen areas and discusses how Peale introduced any
number of improvements into the Mint during this period.
The combination of Moore and Peale was powerful.
Moore had spearheaded the construction of the
Second Mint "for which the necessary appropriations
were obtained chiefly by his own influence and exertions,
and which was begun and completed under his
immediate superintendence," according to his obituary.
Moving from the "old and contracted" building on Seventh
Street in Philadelphia to the "spacious and elegant
marble edifice" at Chestnut and Juniper Streets was not
just a move ahead for the Mint, but a visceral construction
demonstrating American capability to the rest of
the world. Philadelphians were proud, and images of
the second Mint exploded in the literature, whereas images
of the first have only recently been clawed out of
the archives. Moore had done his part, and now it was
up to Peale to bring real technology into a real building.
Peale returned to the Mint in 1835, and met
more than a little resistance, including from our own
Christian Gobrecht, who is said to have been displeased
with a method of reproducing dies introduced by Peale.
Peale stood his ground, and is most notably credited by
Burdette with the introduction of the toggle press. The
collector mindshare surrounding Peale is more typically
focused on the steam-powered press, which Peale did
indeed introduce, but Burdette finds the toggle technology
more remarkable. To be sure, the introduction of
steam power simply wasn't applied directly to an existing
screw press. A new type of press was needed to
properly harness the power of steam, and Burdette sets
the record straight.
Peale went on to make advances in all operations
of the Mint - as Roger explains it, he reworked the
entire process from refining, to rolling, to cutting, to
striking and even counting and weighing. For the first
time, this entire story can be found in one place. I expected
Roger to clean out the National Archives (I was
aware that Peale had written a lengthy report on his
European tour, but had never gotten around to calling
for the document) but he does this and much more. Peripheral
resources, especially related to technology and
manufacturing, are integrated in Burdette's analysis to
I have to admit, when I first heard about this
work, I was hoping it would include the semi-lurid details
about Peale's termination at the Mint in 1854. A
report at the time had Peale building whoopee cushions
in order to embarrass lady visitors. Be warned, this is a
serious book and readers searching for such hijinx are
referred elsewhere, most notably to the Richard Sears
McCulloh pamphlet, the proceedings of the late director
of the mint, in relation to the official misconduct of
Franklin Peale, Esq., chief coiner, and other abuses in
the mint (1853). In the meantime, those interested in
the coining technology surrounding Liberty Seated
coinage will have trouble doing any better than this
book. I grade this book an MS69, withholding the
MS70 grade only because I have just received an advance
copy of Burdette's latest book From Mine to
Mint, which is even better and will be reviewed in a future
This work is available exclusively from Wizard
Coin Supply and may be ordered at
Roger informs me that the printed copies are not available just yet, and as of Sunday afternoon the Wizard site did not yet have the new issue posted for sale electronically. But keep an eye for their appearance at the Wizard site.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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