Criag Sholley passed along this interesting find - perhaps the last letter written by Chief Engraver Longacre. -Editor
John Dannreuther emailed me with a very neat find by John Kraljevich. While at a Civil War militaria show, John purchased what may well be Chief Engraver James B. Longacre’s
On December 26, 1868, Longacre, who was terminally ill with pneumonia, wrote a brief instruction to Assistant Engraver William H. Key to have William Barber complete raising
the reverse working hub for the new Eagle by cutting away the excess metal in the fields which was pushed out in the course of the earlier impressions:
1216 [?] Spring Garden St.
Dec. 26 1868 Mr. Key,
I am confined to my room by a severe attack of pneumonia; If Mr. Barber should be at the Mint to day I would like him to help forward the hub - for the reverse of the new Eagle
- he need not cut close up; but merely to lower the broad parts of the table, so as to ready[?] it for the press on the next blow.
James B. Longacre
Other mint records show that “table” was generally used to refer to the overall die face surface, so in this case, Longacre was referring to the fields.
Removing the excess metal pushed out by previous hubbings was critical as it effectively created a mechanical “dam” which would prevent further impression. In fact, not
understanding the need to remove the excess metal had prevented the mint from hubbing full dies until Franklin Peale discovered the process during his 1833 to 1835 visits to the
British and French mints.
Sadly, Longacre succumbed to illness and died just six days later on Jan. 1, 1869.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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