user_86205's Blog

28 Jul 2018

Who was James Barton Longacre?

Young Numismatists Exchange | user_86205

Little did he know that he would become a famous 19th century chief engraver and and the 4th one at the U.S. Mint. Sarah and Peter Longacre on August 11, 1794 has a son named  James Barton Longacre. James and his family at the time lived out in the country on a farm in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Growing up, Sarah Longacre, his mother, died while James was at a young age. When home life became difficult, James left to go on his own. He found work being an apprentice for a book seller named James Watson. Then finding his passion, James went out to work for George Murray, a banknote engraver. At around twenty five, he began his own engraving business. James engraved plates for bank notes, book illustrations, and the founding fathers. Many years later, on September 16th, 1844, the president at the time commissioned James to the role of being the 4th chief engraver of the U.S. Following the death of the 3rd chief engraver, Christian Gobrecht, Janes struggled getting along with fellow workers at his job.  His fellow coworkers even went as far as trying to get him fired . The first two big projects he was in charge of were the Liberty Head Hold Dollar and a double eagle coin. As there would be many changes in the gold dollar coins, James Longacre would be the only  designer and engraver. He would be a major overseer of the opening of the San Fransico mint. Inspired by the previous chief engraver, James created the Flying Eagle one cent. They then decided to change the design to an easier one to mint. He created a fantastic design for the next cent, the Indian Head penny. Slight changes were made along the way too. James must have liked the Indian Head Princess design, engraving the Indian Head penny similar. He would later go onto uniquely design the first United States two  cent piece in 1864. It was ended in 1873. Even more interesting, he introduced the three cent piece. The composition would include silver from 1851 to 1873 and it would chang to nickel after. It would cease to exist in 1889. James was not done yet. He brought back the idea of the half dime, only calling his recreation the five cent "nickel." His first design would  be the shield nickel and later types of nickels would follow. At his time spent being the chief engraver he encountered William Barber, father of Charles Barber, and other known people. James would also help in the production of Chile coins, too. Sadly, James Longacre would pass away during New Year's Day.  He had his final breath on January 1st, 1869. Fellow workers that knew James came together to remember his death. William Barber would then follow James as the 5th United States chief engraver. His son, Charles would then take the role as the 6th chief engraver.



Level 4

I find the mint history sooooo interesting! That would make an awesome coin series! On one side one of their designs on the other their face and name! ~Matt


Level 6

Designer of the Indian cent. He did much work for the Mint! Thanks


Level 6

I like his design of the Indian Head Penny and the 2 cent piece.


Level 6

Thanks for all the info.


Level 7

Sorry good old spell check I meant chief engraver's. Sorry Mike I have to get this fixed.

Yes, I love the biographies of mint personnel. They should have a book or serve of books dedicated to this.


Level 6

Interesting blog...lots of good information! Thanks for your research. ; )


Level 7

Thanks for the information. That would make a nice series all the chief negatives of the mint. You could write the biography! That would be great thanks again. Mike.

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