Long Beard's Blog

23 May 2020

Timeless Beauty

Coins | Long Beard

With Memorial Day upon us once again I decided to do a short blog piece this week on Charles E. Barber. That way, both you and I may enjoy the kick off to summer.

Charles E. Barber, the sixth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, assumed his appointed post late summer of 1879 with the death of his father andformer Chief Engraver,William T. Barber. It could be agued that Charles was one of, if not the best, men to have held the position.Beginning with the 1883 Liberty Head Nickelfollowedin 1892 with the dime, quarter and half dollar his designs became the workhorse of an economicdriving force of the United States. As such,simple yet elegant in design, few other coins retain their eye appeal and beauty when used as intended. Nothing could prove this true more than with thepopularity each series holds long after the last were struck.

So, what was it that distinguished him from the previous five Engravers? From my own perspective,through research and years of collecting the series which bear his namesake, I would surmise his shearpassion of all things coinage. He understood the entire process involved in manufacturing coinage from metallurgy to coining.Always seeking continuous improvements he travelled to Europe in 1905 to discussthe contrasting methods with various mints in order to make appropriate adjustments to our own coinage.This becomes clear when you look at the number of patterns, and there are many, comparative to all the other engravers past and present. And this does not included the many commemoratives, medals and foreign coinage. The 1883 Hawaiian Series, coinage of Cuba, Venezuela and China, the 1892 Columbian Commemorative Half Dollar, the 1883 Isabella Quarter, the 1900 Lafayette Dollar, the Panama-Pacific $2.50 gold and silver Half Dollar. And the list goes on.

With all of this, no wonder his name will forever be known in the coin collecting community. Part of me has to wonder if we will ever have another individual to come close. We currently have some viable candidates yet I have to also wonder if the powers that be would allow them to express their talents beyond the commemorative coinage. Probably not. One can only hope.



Level 5

I can imagine that people at that time found it boring for their dime, half, and dollar to all have the same design but now it gets a lot more respect for the beauty of its design


Level 6

Fantastic Summer blog. Lots of great info. I have to admit I'm a Morgan and de Francisci guy. Doesn't mean I don't respect his work. Thanks, well done.


Level 5

Good way to kick off summer. I like your insight on Charles Barber.


Level 5

Barber coins are awesome. Something about the old designs. I doubt going forward we will see someone like him. The mint is coming up with all kinds od designs but nothing like a good old barber coin. The old designs just have that appeal.


Level 7

I still pixk up his coins when insee them in ok to good condition. Espically the half. I enjoyed your kickoff t!o the summer. Stay well! And thanks for sharing.


Level 6

To define him by the series of so-called Barber dimes, quarters, and half dollars is to ignore all the wonderful work he did as you described so well. definitely a giant among the Chief Engravers of our mint and a far better artist than most.

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