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1932 Washington Quarter Obverse Plaster

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Thought this was pretty cool and wanted to share some history: :)





From Stacks:


24cm, 20.7mm thick. Washington bust l. after the bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon, LIBERTY, IN GOD/ WE TRUST, 1932 around. Wide rim and bold lettering distinguish this entry in a busy Depression-era competition. The Commission of Fine Arts twice declared Laura Gardin Fraser the winner, only to be overruled by Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon who decreed that John Flanagan's design would be adopted. Perhaps as many as four of the unsuccessful designs have ever been publicized, the Beach entry appearing here for the first time. Edge is soiled from dusty storage.


The March 4, 1931 Act of Congress specified that the Houdon bust at Mount Vernon was to be used for the obverse. Flanagan particularly created a "portrait of a bust," rather than the likeness of a living man.


From the studio collection of Chester Beach.


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Beach's design was one of the finalists selected by Mellon for additional study.

Oddly, Flanagan's reverse design showed an eagle feeding her chicks.

The CFA wanted the same artist to design both medal and coin (originally a half dollar). The Bicentennial Committee and CFA had already given the medal to Laura Fraser.


Mellon felt the CFA was trying to dictate who would design the coin, and so he picked Flanagan's -- mostly to show who was boss.


Only after the artists refined their designs, and Flanagan was told to replace the nesting birds, did his "hanging bat" reverse emerge. The CFA rejected it, but Sec Treas mad the Flanagan decision.


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hm I believe I would have preferred this obverse design better than the current one. Do you have photos of the reverse design?

Thank you for sharing.


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It is very similar to the Laura Gardin Fraser submission, but that should not be much of a surprise given the parameters of the competition.

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So is the design used for the 1999 Washington commemorative a modified version of the Beach design or a totally new design using the same Houdon bust?



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Thanks Roger for adding some more content here. (thumbs u









Laura Gardin Fraser submitted these models as her entry (#56) for the Washington head quarter. They were unanimously recommended by the Commission of Fine Arts and the Washington Bicentennial Commission in 1931 but rejected by the secretary of the Treasury. Stella Coin News







Courtesy of Stacks Numismatics:

Pair of Positive Plaster Models for the 1932 Washington quarter. Plaster bronzed, each 41.3cm. Attributed to John Flanagan. About Uncirculated. The obverse plaster presents a Washington head facing right with short peruke, LIBERTY above, date with flat-top 3 in right field, IN GOD WE TRUST below. The reverse plaster is highly distinctive with a tall-letter legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, QUARTER DOLLAR around a modernistic eagle with a short body, pronounced head and neck nearly the same size and exceptionally large legs between enormous raised wings extending through the legend. The bird firmly grasps fasces complete with down-turned axe blade wholly unlike that on the adopted design. Above is a circle of 13 five-point stars enclosing E/ PLURIBUS/ UNUM. The late Cornelius C. Vermeule described these plasters in his Numismatic Art in America, as "Large plaster or terra-cotta Modelli in the collection of Stack's shows that he [Flanagan] considered a right-facing bust, variations on the heraldic eagle of the final design, and other details not part of the coin as struck in 1932." These models were illustrated in color in the 2007 second edition of the Vermeule book, revised by David T. Alexander. They are one of only three rejected designs that have become known to collectors. The third is the hitherto unknown Chester Beach obverse that makes its public debut elsewhere in this sale. The 1931 contest rules stipulated that all obverses had to present a likeness modeled after "Houdon's celebrated bust" preserved at Mount Vernon. The new coin would, therefore, bear the portrait of a sculpture, not of a living man. The Flanagan design actually adopted shows this reality unmistakably, while the rejected design offered here was vastly more original. The eagle of the rejected reverse offered here may remind viewers familiar with the country's World War II philatelic history of the long-lived Win the War three-cent stamp with its streamlined, raised-wing eagle. These beautifully preserved plasters are unique and provide virtually unmatched insight into the workings of a design competition now forgotten that was won by a notably lifeless design. Careful examination reveals a few small chips on the outer rims but the overall condition is exceptional. Here are exhibit items of unexcelled beauty and numismatic-historical importance.

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