The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 43, October 23, 2022, Article 2


Bob Van Ryzin alerted us to a new book by Jim Haas on sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil, the creator of the Standing Liberty Quarter and other numismatic products. Thanks. -Editor

  1916 Quarter

Hermon Atkins MacNeil book cover HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL
American Sculptor In the Broad, Bright Daylight
by James E. Haas

Hermon Atkins MacNeil has been written about in a variety of anthologies of American sculpture with brief, sometime quite serious essays, but never in a full book. Through the use of sound and thorough scholarship, Hermon Atkin MacNeil: American Sculptor in the Broad, Bright Daylight is the first comprehensive, straight-forward accounting of his life. He was born in 1866 and died in 1947. Producing more than 250 sculptural creations, he was one of the most accomplished and highly respected sculptors of his era, with a world-wide reputation for outstanding work. But to his neighbors in College Point, Queens, New York, where he lived and worked for forty-five years, what he did was equivalent to being an electrician or a school teacher, just a career, nothing special.

The book delves into the details of his major and even not so major commissions, how each of his many works of art came into existence, and how they were seen through the eyes of his contemporaries, friends, writers, and critics who expressed opinions of his works within the context of the times in which they lived. Every day, in cities and towns across America, people pass by monuments, reliefs on buildings, or even glance at the face of a coin and never consider the human beings that brought them into existence, the discussions about the symbolism of the piece or even its placement. This book brings all of this to life, including details of the political and historical environment of the era, the accolades and the rejections.

Included are endearing personal stories about this extraordinary artist's family, friends and background. In addition to a parallel narrative detailing the creative life of his wife Carol Brooks MacNeil, much attention is paid to her fellow women sculptors and the challenges they faced. Including over 200 photographs and images, this is a book to be read and enjoyed by art lovers, especially those with an interest in sculpture, and to be available in the reference library of every art school, college and university, as well as each city or town where one or more of his works is on display.

About The Author
James E. Haas has written five books on the history of College Point, New York. This Gunner at His Piece: College Point, NY and the Civil War with Biographies of the Men Who Served. It was followed by Conrad Poppenhusen: The Life of a German-American Industrial Pioneer, St. Fidelis Parish in College Point, NY: The First Seventy-Five Years, 1856-1931, To Honor Fallen Heroes: How a Small, German-American Village in New York City Experienced the Great War and Conrad Poppenhusen: The Man Who Made Combs and Founded a Town – a Biography for Young Readers ages 9 to 12. Born and raised in College Point, and a graduate of St. John's University, he lives with his wife Lynne in Severna Park, Maryland.

Author Haas provided these additional notes and images. Thank you! -Editor

The book is 313 pages long and contains over 200 photographs. Tracing his life from his earliest years through the various stages of his education, professional and personal life, I write about the medals he designed, his Quarter, and how important to his career was his uncle Henry Mitchell.

I believe Henry Mitchell played some role in his interest in medals, as may have Henri Chapu, a master in low relief who taught medallic art at the Acade´mie Julian. He was MacNeil's teacher in 1889-1890.

  Pan-American Medal
  Hopi Pryaer for Rain

If anyone is responsible for MacNeil's development in this métier, it would have to be Karl Bitter who I suggest asked him to design the Medal of Award for the Pan-American Exposition held in Buffalo, 1901. Indians appear on this medal, along with the Hopi Prayer for Rain. MacNeil's award of the first Rinehart scholarship, a distinction shared with Alexander Phimister Proctor, was heavily influenced by the twenty-three Indian pieces he fashioned during the summer of 1895 in the southwest. He also did a prospector and a cowboy, but it was the Indian who had caught his fancy.

  Poppenhusen Medal

There are those who believe that MacNeil should have not veered from that which brought him to fame, but as much as the classical beauty surrounding him captivated Hermon, he could not, nor did he want to get the Indian out of his soul. That being said, his objective in life was to earn his living through his art and like many artists, he diversified, not necessarily by choice, but by opportunity and his own need to expand his artistic horizons.

  Pony Express

As fate would have it, his last large-scale work, an equestrian, was not that of an Indian, nor a cowboy, but that of a horseman, a Pony Express rider dedicated in St. Joseph, MO in 1940. He thought of it one of his best.

For more information, or to order, see:
Hermon Atkins MacNeil: American Sculptor In the Broad, Bright Daylight (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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