user_86205's Blog

18 Jul 2018

Who was Charles Edward Barber?

Young Numismatists Exchange | user_86205

     In London on November 16, 1840 Charles Edward Barber was born.  Together, his family moved out of London and into the United States of America, because his dad, William Barber, had taken a job opening with the Philadelphia Mint. Charles learned from his dad about engraving skills growing up, and took the job of being his father's apprentice. During his time of assisting his dad and being his apprentice, Charles fell in love with Martha E. Jones in 1875.  They would later have a daughter named Edith. August 31, 1879 was the day that his dad died. The mint was then looking for a new chief engraver following the death of William Barber. In search for a new engravers, they created a contest for ten people. The whole contest ended up falling apart and the United States Mint then went to its plan B. George Morgan, Charles Barber, and William Key were told to each create a design to see which would be chosen to take over the job. In the end,  Charles was chosen to work as the Chief Engraver for the Mint. His first coin designed by  Charles was the the $4 Gold Stella Coin. It only was produced only for a year and interestingly possessed the words "400 CENTS" on it. Currently, this coin brings up to seven figures in value to collectors. A few years down the road, Charles introduced the Liberty Head V Nickel.  The Mint at the time was wanting to replace the current design of the seated liberty and other types of coins around the time. The words "5 CENTS" were later added on to help keep fraud transactions from happening. Charles started the journey in creating the Barber coins in 1891. He designed a plaster half dollar containing a seated liberty named Columbia for his first design. This was rejected by the Mint. Many people complained about parts of the design including President Harrison, Mint director, and the public.  Another person who heavily criticized Charles was President Roosevelt. The president would have preferred Augustus Gaudens to create the designes instead of Charles. The result produced a similar creation of Charles' first design. His design was used for the dime, quarter, and half dollar. He also helped over see the start of the Denver Coin Mint.  Other countries he helped produce coins for were Hawaii (later a state), Venezuela, and Cuba. He had a large stash of coins he engraved over the 48 years at the Mint. He did produce commemorative coins and medals in the remarkable career that he had.  He married Caroline Gaston on December 3, 1907.  His Barber design for the dime, quarter, and half dollar would last for several years later after his death. He died in Philadelphia on February 18, 1917. He was also buried in the city too.  


A wonderful designer and engraver. I love his work.


Level 6

Thanks for this. Always interested in designers/sculptors.


Level 6

Thanks for a good review. Appreciate it!


Level 6

Nice Fact filled blog.. Not my favorite coin designer though..Thanks!


Level 7

Charles Barber according to the books was not liked that much. That includes his. son they tried desperately to stop St Gaudens /from coming here the books have copays of his letters to t he director of the mint. He was afraid everyone wanted his job. Thanks for the information. Mike.

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