Dave Bowers has been running a series of articles in his Stack's Bowers blog about Anna Williams, the woman who modelled for
George Morgan's portrait of Liberty on the Morgan Silver Dollar. Here's the latest installment. -Editor
The Numismatist, May 1896, printed this item:
“To Marry A Goddess, the Young Lady Whose Profile Appears on Uncle Sam’s Silver Dollars:
“The announcement that the Goddess of Liberty is about to be married has aroused new interest in the woman whose face is known to more people than
that of any other woman of the American continent. Every man, woman or child who has a silver dollar carries the handsome profile of the Philadelphia
schoolteacher, Miss Anna W. Williams. Her classic features have been stamped upon millions of silver disks.
“It is twenty years since the pretty blonde girl became world-famous. It was then stated that Miss Williams’ profile was the original of the
Goddess of Liberty on that much abused, much admired and equally much disliked Bland silver dollar. The friends of the young woman placed every
obstacle in the way of possible identification, but failed in their object. The story of how Miss Williams came to be the Goddess of Liberty may be
retold, now that it is said she is soon to become a bride.
“In the early part of 1876 the Treasury Department secured, through communication with the Royal Mint of England, the services of a clever young
designer and engraver named George Morgan. Upon his arrival in this country Mr. Morgan was installed at the Philadelphia Mint and was assigned the
task of making a design for the new silver dollar. After many months of labor the young engraver completed the design for the reverse side of the
coin upon which he represented the American eagle. His attention was then turned to the other side, and his original inclination was to place on it a
fanciful head representing the Goddess of Liberty. But the ambitious designer was too much of a realist to be satisfied with a mere product of fancy.
Finally he determined the head should be the representation of some American girl and forthwith searched for his beauteous maid.
“It was a long search, although pleasant. He told his friends of his desires, and one of them spoke of the really classic beauty of Miss Anna
Williams. The English designer was introduced to the girl. Mr. Morgan was at once impressed by her beautiful face and studied it carefully. Then he
told her what he desired, and she promptly refused to permit herself to be the subject of the design. Her friends, however, induced her to pose
before an artist. After five sittings the design was completed.
“Mr. Morgan was so enthusiastic that he declared Miss Williams’ profile was the most nearly perfect he had seen in England or America. His design
for the Bland silver dollar was accepted by Congress, and so the silver coins have been pouring from the mints all these years adorned with the
stately face of a Quaker City maiden.
“Miss Williams is a decidedly modest young woman. She resides on Spring Garden Street, not far from the school in which for years she has been
employed as an instructor in philosophy and methods in the kindergarten department. She is slightly below the average height, is rather plump, and is
fair. She carries her figure with a stateliness rarely seen and the pose of the head is exactly as seen on the silver dollar. The features of Miss
Williams are reproduced as faithfully as in a good photograph.—New York Mail and Express.”
To read the complete article, see:
Anna Willess Williams, The “Silver Dollar Girl” (www.stacksbowers.com/NewsMedia/Blogs/TabId/780/ArtMID/
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