coinsbygary's Blog

07 Dec 2020

The Lesser-Known Kennedy

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

Often when we think of the Kennedy's our first thoughts go to John and Bobby, who were assassinated. We might also think of Teddy, who saw his political aspirations for higher office end at Chappaquiddick. When I look back at history, I can't help but think what the political landscape might look like today if things were different. In my estimation, there was a strong possibility all three Kennedy brothers would have been President of the United States.

21 Oct 2020

The Who, What, Where, When, and Whys of Researching Coins

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

When I first look at a coin, I often ask myself, "What's this coin trying to tell me about itself?" Sometimes that coin's story is in its date, mintage, mintmark, die variety, and metallic composition, to name a few. However, I almost always find my coins' design features far more interesting than its technical characteristics. If they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I want to know what my coins' allegorical images intend to communicate.

27 Jul 2019

Four Out Of Nine Ain’t Too Bad

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

Every year due to my Collectors Society membership renewal grading credits I send at least one submission/year to NGC for grading. Some years I send US coins and some world coins. Lately due to my Laura Gardin Fraser collection I've been sending medals.

17 Jul 2019

The Very First Coin I Purchased and a New Toy!

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

Recently I bought a new macro lens for my camera. The lens is a Laowa V-DX 60MM F2.8 Macro 2:1. Now I know I already have a macro lens but if I am ever going to take my coin photography on the road, I will need a much more versatile lens.

09 Oct 2018

Art and Allegory

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

When it comes to coinage designs the two most important features I look for are brilliant artistry and strong allegories. Occasionally these two characteristics appear on modern US coins. However, many of those are expensive to collect because they are struck in gold, platinum, and palladium.

31 Aug 2018

Gary's Coins From The Vault-The Shield Nickel

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

Is this edition of Garys Coins From The Vault I am highlighting the two major varieties of the Shield Nickel. Though I was unable to personally go to the ANA show this year, the dealer who is helping me to up-grade my type set did. There according to my want list he located an MS-63 1867 Shield Nickel w/Rays to up-grade an AU-50 1866 nickel. This new coin joins the final year of issue PF-63 1883 already in my collection. I think you will find it interesting to compare a well struck business strike Shield Nickel with a proof nickel of a similar type.I'm trying to figure out the ding in the 5 of the 1883 nickel. I'm thinking that it might be a strike-through.

27 Aug 2018

Garys Coins From The Vault, vol 1

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

I have been asked to post various coins from my collection. Thus, I will periodically post coins from my 7070 type set vault. This first postfeaturesmy Indian Head Cents; an AU-58 1859 laurelwreathvariety, an MS-63 1863 copper-nickel oak wreath with shield variety, and an MS-65 1903 bronze red/brown variety.

23 May 2018

Speaking of Dimes...

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

As I read through the blogs posted here, one of my favorite reads is when Kepi writes about her Mercury Dimes. While the coin I'm writing about here is not a Mercury Dime, it is very reminiscent of her dimes in terms of toning and beauty.

08 Apr 2018

Breast Cancer Awareness

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

The recent US Mint release of the 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative coins have been of a special significance to my wife and I. Some 50 years ago when my wife was only 7 she lost her mother to breast cancer. This has had a lasting negative effect on my wife's life. Knowing that there can be a genetic effect on my wife and that of my daughter, my wife gets an annual check-up to make sure everything is all right. The good news is so far, so good. My daughter is still young but she will have to be mindful of this also as she gets older.

17 May 2016

My Take on the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

The 1925 Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar commemorates the 1825 founding of Fort Vancouver by the Hudson’s Bay Company and it’s first administrator, Dr. John McLoughlin (1784-1857). The obverse features a left facing bust of Dr. McLoughlin based on a sketch by Vancouver, Washington native John T. Urquhart.[1] The reverse features a frontiersman clothed in buckskins standing in front of the Fort Vancouver stockade with the Columbia River and Mt. Hood in the background. Portland, Oregon native Sidney Bell is credited with the coin’s original design and Laura Gardin Fraser with modifying the motifs and preparing the final models.[2]Interestingly, Laura Gardin Fraser nearly missed out on the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar. After rejecting Sydney Bell’s models, the Federal Commission of Fine Arts sought medalist Chester Beach who himself designed the 1923 Monroe Doctrine Centennial Half-Dollar to modify and complete the models. However, Chester Beach was unavailable and Laura Gardin Fraser was commissioned with the task on June 15, 1925. Subsequently, She finished the new models by July 1 and the first 50,028 coins (28 for assay purposes) were ready for delivery on August 1.[3] Because of their love and admiration for the old west, both James and Laura Fraser were adept at modeling subjects relating to western themes. Accordingly, it is probably for the best that the commission fell to Laura as I will detail in the following paragraphs. To understand Laura’s rendition of Dr. McLoughlin on the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar it is important to understand the man.In the October 1925 issue of the Numismatist, Portland resident George A. Pipes wrote the following about Dr. McLoughlin. “Dr. McLoughlin was truly a great man. He ruled this great territory as an absolute monarch, a benevolent despot, Haroun-alRaschid reincarnated. He was able to convince the savage tribes of Indians that he and his company intended them no harm. If an Indian did wrong to a white man, he was punished, and the same punishment was administered to a white who wronged an Indian. He forbade the evil practice which had existed theretofore of trading "firewater" to the Indians. He dealt with such justness toward these savage tribes that for hundreds of miles around they acknowledged him their Big Chief and lived in peace and quiet among the whites.”[4]Laura Fraser’s rendition of Dr. McLoughlin’s bust features him as an older man, and as such someone who is dignified and demands respect. Dr. McLoughlin’s high cheek bone and deep eyes show him to be determined. His thick eyebrows remind me of someone who is wise or in deep thought. Furthermore, Dr. McLoughlin is dressed in clothing that seems to suggest that he was a shrewd businessman. Consequently, when you read Dr. McLoughlin’s biography, the image of his bust on the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar is exactly what you might expect to see. These then are all the little things an artist can subtly add to their subject in order to portray a certain image without significantly altering the subject.I do not know for sure what changes Laura Gardin Fraser made to the reverse motifs of this coin. However, according to the US Rare Coin Investments website she added the frontiersman to the original design.The most prominent device on the reverse of the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar is the frontiersman. Ergo, he is symbolic of the type of person who traded furs in the mountainous regions of the Pacific northwest during the early to middle 1800’s. That his head has an appearance of towering higher than Mt. Hood shows that he is more than equal to harshness of the environment in which he lives. He is tall and stocky, indicating that he is strong and physically fit. He is wearing a coonskin cap with a full beard and a stern face proving that he is resilient and ready for any adverse weather conditions he may encounter. His buckskin clothing has the appearance of authenticity as the edges are tattered. His leg muscles are well defined and powerful such as what he would need to traverse rugged terrain. Finally, the frontiersman is standing with his rifle in a position of readiness to defend the fort behind him. This man then is a representative type of the 1,000 white men who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company under Dr. John McLoughlin.Finally, I’m not sure how this coin may have turned out if Chester Beach finished the models. However, I do know that Laura Gardin Fraser executed the design features of the Fort Vancouver Centennial Half-Dollar well.


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