In last week's issue Dick Johnson asked, "What 20th century U.S. circulating coin did
Walter Breen describe as displaying rugosity?" Pete Smith writes:
From Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins, page 257:
"Gone is much of the rugosity of Black Diamond's hide, gone too are many details of the
Indian's hair, wrinkles, and feathers."
Dave Lange writes:
I recalled that word immediately from when I was writing the first edition of my Buffalo Nickel
book, though I resisted the temptation to include it in my own descriptions. Walter Breen was
decrying Charles Barber's habit of smoothing out the fields of all new coin types that came his
way from outside sculptors. The deeply textured surfaces were in vogue among artists of the time,
as they diffused the light and permitted easier viewing of the design. The prevalence of
sandblasting or otherwise imparting matte surfaces to coins and medals was an extension of this
same trend. Unfortunately, Mr. Barber's conventional thinking found such practices
objectionable, and he replaced the textured fields with smooth, shiny ones at every opportunity.
The Type 2 1913 nickels and all succeeding pieces were so treated, as were the dimes, quarters and
halves produced midway through 1917 and thereafter.
Dave Ellison also correctly identified the Type 1 Buffalo nickel as the object of
Breen's statement. Thanks, everyone! -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
VOCABULARY TERM: MEDALLIC OBJECTS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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