Daryl Haynor writes:
Do papers of Chief Engraver William Kneass exist, and if so where are they located?
There exist Kneass family papers from 1835 - 1878 at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Those papers generally include those of his son Samuel Honeyman Kneass, and Samuel's family.
Good question. Can anyone help? Below is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Kneass.
William Kneass (/ˈniːs/ niece) (September 25, 1781 – August 27, 1840) was the second Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1824 until his death in 1840. Kneass is credited with designing the "Classic Head" motif, which appeared on numerous denominations of American currency, including the gold Quarter Eagle ($2.50) and Half Eagle ($5.00) gold pieces from 1834-1839. He also modified John Reich's "Capped Bust" design on the half dime through half-dollar from the years 1829-1837. Additionally, Kneass utilized his modified Capped Bust for the rebirth of the half-dime in 1829.
On January 29, 1824, Kneass was appointed Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. During his tenure as Chief Engraver, he oversaw production of gold coinage, and circulating coinage.
In 1830, Kneass redesigned the quarter, and in 1834, redesigned the gold coinage. He also introduced a new Liberty head on the half dollar, a design that was modified several times over the next two years. In 1835 Mint director Samuel Moore wrote of him: "Mr. Kneass, our present engraver ... is an acceptable, popular and very useful Officer, perhaps one of the most rapid in execution in the U. States. I do not know whether another could be found, whose celerity in his profession could have sufficed to furnish all the dies we have necessarily employed within the last five years."
On August 27, 1835, Kneass suffered a debilitating stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side. Once second engraver Christian Gobrecht was hired, he did most pattern and die work until Kneass died in office on August 27, 1840. Kneass was succeeded by Gobrecht as Chief Engraver on December 21 of that year.
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