2020 Sundman Online Lecture Series
The theme for the 2020 Sundman Lecture Series was Women in Numismatics.
Visual Strategies of Suffrage, the 19th Amendment & American Coin Design
The visual language of women’s suffrage is rendered on contemporary U.S. coins, including Adolph A. Weinman’s Winged Liberty Head (aka "Mercury") dime and Walking Liberty half dollar, and on Hermon MacNeil’s Standing Liberty quarter dollar, all first issued in 1916. These coins draw on a rich, visual vocabulary used to promote voting rights for women. For example, Weinman’s “Wings of Thought” on his famed dime also is used in multiple contemporary suffragist posters, including Egbert C. Jacobson’s “Equality Is the Sacred Law of Humanity,” and Liberty is used on Henry Mayer’s image “The Awakening,” published in the 1915 satirical magazine Puck. This presentation will detail the role allegory played in the visual strategies of suffrage—on view will be examples of classically-inspired symbolism on American coinage in the early 20th century through the lens of the women’s suffrage movement.
Instructor: Steve Roach
The Influence of Anna W. Williams in Numismatics
This presentation will explore one iconic woman’s role in the advancement of circulating coinage in the United States and the lasting impact she has had on numismatics. Schoolteacher Anna Willess Williams’ rise to fame began in 1876 when U.S. Mint engraver George T. Morgan selected her as a model for the portrait on a new coin design. Christened the “Goddess of Liberty” by The Numismatist magazine in 1896, Williams was thrown into the spotlight and became an integral part of numismatics—her portrait became the world-famous “Lady Liberty” on the obverse of the Morgan Dollar, which was minted from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921. This presentation will discuss, in conjunction with Williams’ biography, the state of the economy and American society leading up to the design and creation of the Morgan dollar and the coins subsequent impact on numismatics.
Instructor: Jack E. Topping
The Leading Ladies of Rome
As Rome transitioned from a republic to an empire, a significant change took place in its coinage—it began to feature portraits of women. Marc Antony was the first Roman leader to place an image of his leading lady, Octavia, on a coin. She was followed shortly thereafter by the appearance of Cleopatra VII, and in the ensuing centuries, it became commonplace to adorn coinage with portraits of Rome’s leading ladies. This presentation will discuss the evolution of such portraits, from depictions of largely adjunct figures in the 1st century to illustrations of distinction in the 2nd century and beyond. Also discussed will be the variety of portrait styles—from starkly realistic to rather emblematic, and back again—from the era of the Byzantine Empire and the Renaissance to more recent coinage.
Instructor: Dave Michaels
Politics, Power, & Positioning: Byzantine Empresses on Coinage
The segue of the Western Roman Empire to the Eastern Roman Empire (aka Byzantine Empire) was gradual—numismatists pinpoint A.D. 491 as the start of the Byzantine Empire because the new emperor, Anastasius I, reorganized the money system at that time. The Western Romans were pagans and used imagery of gods and goddesses on their money, while the Byzantines were Christian and employed crosses and orbs. However, the most radical change—for the purposes of this discussion—was the addition of women rulers on the coinage struck during the reign of Justin II (A.D. 565-78). The title of "empress" did not come with the right to produce coins, so there is significance in their likenesses appearing on the money. Using contemporary sources, this talk will explore how the empresses’ and other regents’ relationships with the emperors and other powers helped them to achieve this recognition.
Instructor: Prue Fitts
Numismatic Contributions of Trailblazing Treasury Department Women, 1795 to Date
There is undeniable, documented proof in the Department of the Treasury’s records that beginning in the late 18th century, women were employed in various divisions of the department and played a significant role not only in American history but in numismatic history as well. Their contributions to the field began in April 1795 when Henry Voigt of the Philadelphia Mint hired Sarah Waldrake and Rachel Summers—the mint’s first female employees. Their jobs? Coin adjusters! Their numismatic contributions? View the presentation to find out! Also highlighted will be the little-known and overlooked exploits and hobby contributions of other Treasury women—Augusta Owen, Jeannie Douglas, Annie H. Martin, Marion Bannister, Rae Biester, Eva Adams, and Bette B. Anderson—over the past 228 years.
Instructors: Walt Ostromecki
Women in Military Numismatics
Military numismatics is the study of coins, paper money, tokens, and the like that were issued or used by military forces. Usually, the use of the items is limited to military personnel or is a result of a military operation. This presentation will be centered primarily on the two world wars. Topics of discussion include trench art coins, "short snorters," World War II medals awarded exclusively to women, mothers’ crosses, World War II decorations featuring portraits of women, American Red Cross chits, and war bonds purchased by women in Japanese-American internment camps. This presentation, featuring many numismatic and historic images, is the culmination of 50 years of research published and unpublished sources.
Instructor: Fred Schwan