Hermon MacNeil researcher and author Jim Haas submitted these thoughts in response to last week's video of the 2007 talk by Ray Herz on the models for the Standing Liberty Quarter.
Since I don't even qualify for the Boy Scout rank of Tenderfoot when it comes to the various iterations and
design variations of MacNeil's quarter, I have no quibble with the technical observations offered by Ray Herz
in his 2016 video presentation, and I'll always defer to Roger Burdette on these matters. That being said, I offer
here some additional information based on more than a decade's worth of MacNeil research that I believe will
broaden E-sylum readers' knowledge as regards the famous Quarter.
Designing medals was not something unfamiliar to MacNeil as he was well-versed in the art. His uncle was
Henry Mitchell, an acknowledged master engraver, medalist and friend to Saint-Gaudens. He had studied with
Henri-Michel-Antoine-Chapu, another master medalist, in Paris and prior to 1916, had designed not only the
1901 Pan-American Medal of Award, but also the 1909 Architectural League of New York Medal. In 1912 he
submitted two designs for the National Academy of Science Medal neither of which was selected. Simultaneous
with the 1916 Quarter, he had also modeled the Conrad Poppenhusen Medal.
Indeed, and regrettably, his Indian
themed works were fewer, but they were never far from his heart returning to them in modeling the 1926 Hopi
Prayer for Rain medal. As for the American Bison appearing in both MacNeil's medal and James Earle Fraser's
Nickel, it is recorded that
Black Diamond, the American Bison, was Fraser's model. The animal was born in
the Central Park Zoo in 1893 and died there in 1915. In 1900, MacNeil was living on the upper west side of
Manhattan. The zoo being very near to where he lived, I'd wager a bet Black Diamond was his model as well.
Hermon Atkins MacNeil was born in 1866 and died in 1947. Julia Alevena Reiman was born in Manhattan on
January 24, 1882. After her father's death in 1899, she moved to Whitestone, Queens, NY, a short distance east
of College Point, where MacNeil lived and had his studio. Irene Beer was born in New Jersey in 1880. After her
father's death, her mother married William C. Weitling, an up-and-coming executive and eventual president of
a College Point Rubber Company. He adopted her. Because MacNeil served on the Board of Control of an
educational institute started by Conrad Poppenhusen, the founder of the rubber company, Hermon, and probably
his wife Carol, would have likely known Irene Weitling. The families ran in the same social circles.
Doris married Whitestone resident and much celebrated athlete Albert Doscher in 1902. One year earlier, he and
a friend had pedaled their bicycles round-trip from Whitestone to Buffalo to take in the World's Fair. Irene Beer
Weitling wed Minneapolis-born George MacDowell in 1903, he too, a good athlete. Both were said to have
been MacNeil's tennis partners, a sport that Hermon played very well, but neither man's name was ever paired
with his in any published tennis tournament articles. But it is entirely possible they played together informally.
Doris was not in her early twenties when she modeled for MacNeil, in fact she was thirty-four. Irene was
approaching thirty-six. While Irene's measurements were never published, Doscher's 36-25-39 were just
slightly off what is considered an hourglass figure today. In any case, I suspect both women would have taken
umbrage when described as being
a little bit matronly. We'll never know. In addition to performing on
Broadway using the name Doris Doree, Doris Doscher was trained as a Red Cross nurse, appeared in silent
films portraying as Eve in one and an unspecified character in an educational opus titled The Sculptor and His
She was also an early fitness guru writing a popular newspaper column on the subject and speaking often
on physical culture for women. She was also a frequently used sculptor's model posing at different times for
Herbert Adams, Daniel Chester French and Karl Bitter, he having employed her when fashioning his Pomona
Pulitzer of the Plaza atop the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Bitter died in 1915 before the
work was completed, that task falling to Isidore Konti. MacNeil and Bitter were not only gifted artists, they were
also close friends. It was probably through him that Hermon came to call upon Doris Doscher as he did once
again when modeling the Flushing, Queens, NY World War One Memorial dedicated in 1925.
That both women acted as model for MacNeil is on the record. Interestingly, MacDowell, her husband and
daughter left College Point after 1910 relocating to the tiny town of Rock Tavern in upstate New York where
George took up farming. She stayed close to her family, visiting often, thus it is reasonable to think that it was
during one of her sojourns that she spent those ten days modeling for Hermon. It is also probable that because
Doscher lived in nearby Whitestone, she became his primary model and the true Girl on the Quarter, the phrase first appearing in a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article published in April 1917. Eleven years later the same paper
published a photo of her posing for the Quarter.
Doris Dorscher Baum passed away in 1970, Irene MacDowell three years later at which time it was learned she
had been MacNeil's model for the figure of Victory in Albany's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial dedicated in
1912 before she moved to Rock Tavern.
I'm old enough to remember the TV game show "I've Got a Secret", where celebrity panelists question a mystery guest to determine their identity.
Jim located a 1966 episode where Doris Baum appeared.
To watch the episode, see:
Model for Liberty quarter (I've Got a Secret 4/4/66)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
VIDEO: STANDING LIBERTY QUARTERS
THE BOOK BAZARRE
RENAISSANCE OF AMERICAN COINAGE
: Wizard Coin Supply is the official distributor for Roger Burdette's three volume
series that won NLG Book of the Year awards for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Contact us for dealer or distributor pricing at www.WizardCoinSupply.com
Wayne Homren, Editor
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