Come Sail Away - The “Sailor Head” Patterns of 1875
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This is very interesting! I can’t help but wonder why it doesn’t pop up again for quite some time, especially in noted pattern sales of the 1960s. I’ll have to change my info. Is there a link for this? 

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On 6/1/2022 at 10:47 AM, CaptHenway said:

I see that he called the 1876 versions of this head "Centennial Dollars." 

There was internal correspondence about possibly striking a special Centennial Souvenir dollar, but there wasn't much enthusiasm for it, and the medals were very popular with collectors.

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On 6/1/2022 at 8:14 PM, FlyingAl said:

This is very interesting! I can’t help but wonder why it doesn’t pop up again for quite some time, especially in noted pattern sales of the 1960s. I’ll have to change my info. Is there a link for this? 

https://archive.org/details/coincollectorsjo06n1coin/page/6/mode/2up

 

I don't have my copy of the Adams-Woodin pattern book handy. What does it say about the three patterns under discussion?

Woodin died in very late 1933. What became of his collection?

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Posted (edited)

"Centennial Dollar" follow-up. FYI

May 5 1876
Hon. James Pollock
Sir
I send you sketches of the New Dollar as proposed and described in the directions you did me the
honor to hand to me.
In No. 1 I have shown [sic] a reverse, having the number of stars, wreath, and denomination
only, omitting all inscriptions. And of course omitting the stars on its obverse as we have them
here, viz in this drawing.
In No. 2 I have shewn [sic] the inscription of “First Centennial of American Independence” and
suggested how the motto “In God We Trust” could be inserted on either face of the coin.
In No. 3 I have simply shewn [sic] for example how the stars would look in the outer
circumference of the letters United States of America as in this No. 3 or inside the words as in
No. 2.
I wish to remark that if we use the motto “First Centennial of American Independence” it would
involve making a new die when no longer appropriate. Also by taking up some of our space,
prevents the full display of a wreath, as shown in drawing No. 1.
In No. 4 I shew [sic] a wreath and stars on the reverse, and the Head of Liberty and appropriate
mottos on the obverse.
I am Sir
Very respectfully Yours,
William Barber

 

 

May 6, 1876
Hon. H.R. Linderman
Director of the Mint
Washington,
D.C.
Sir
In compliance with your request of the 1st inst., our Engraver, Mr. Barber, has prepared, and I
herewith enclose for your consideration, four designs for a new silver dollar, for the Centennial
and subsequent years.

My own decided preference for the Centennial dollar is the design on card No. 2 and for the
subsequent years the design on card No. 4. The Engraver is in entire accord with me in this
choice. The designs explain themselves, and show how very happily they can be adapted to the
proposed new coin, without crowding or clumsiness. No. 2 gives with ease and neatness the
essential and very desirable inscription “First Centennial of American Independence,” and No. 4
shows how very readily and appropriately for future years the circle of stars can be transferred
from the obverse to the reverse, in lieu of the Centennial inscription, and yet preserve the general
unity of the successive issues of the new dollar, while still leaving the Centennial dollar a
distinctive coin by itself.

 

[May 8, 1876

I think the idea of using “First Centennial of American Independence” on the regular issue had
better be abandoned, and strike a specimen (No. 3) using the Regular Obverse for that purpose.
As the piece could be struck on the large Press, you could readily strike any number required. I
shall be glad to discuss the matter fully on Thursday.
H.R. Linderman,
Director.

Edited by RWB
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On 6/3/2022 at 12:04 PM, CaptHenway said:

Fascinating. I never knew that me favorite pattern was a prototype for a Centennial Dollar.

TD

Indeed, but how similar were they really? How I read what Roger posted is that there were two dollars produced- one for a centennial celebration and one to be used for general commerce after the celebration. Both were very similar in design, likely somewhat close to one another in design, with some apparently different text and star placement. I believe the patterns described as J-1457--J-1466 are likely the latter - designs for a commercial use dollar. The lack of stars on the reverse of these designs when the reverse stars are mentioned numerous times in the letters is very notable. 

Roger, are the drawings of the coins for the centennial included with what you posted? It would definitively tell what is true. It's interesting that no patterns of the centennial dollars exist in the Judd book. Tom, do you remember the hub trial that was posted over at PCGS? What are the chances that was a hub trial for centennial dollars? It's unlikely, but should the possibility be considered? It could make sense, and explain its existence. 

Here it is:

image.thumb.png.ea54f7828651e4a2f94ad81b41626014.pngimage.thumb.png.339b1532495160fa47ad00d0aa6e137d.png

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On 6/3/2022 at 3:57 PM, FlyingAl said:

How I read what Roger posted is that there were two dollars produced- one for a centennial celebration and one to be used for general commerce after the celebration. Both were very similar in design, likely somewhat close to one another in design, with some apparently different text and star placement. I believe the patterns described as J-1457--J-1466 are likely the latter - designs for a commercial use dollar. The lack of stars on the reverse of these designs when the reverse stars are mentioned numerous times in the letters is very notable. 

Roger, are the drawings of the coins for the centennial included with what you posted? It would definitively tell what is true. It's interesting that no patterns of the centennial dollars exist in the Judd book.

If you will read the section in Girl on the Silver Dollar it should clear most of your confusion.

There are no drawings with the posted letters. They might exist -- somewhere -- someplace -- sometime. There's a place for them...." [got to hit that minor 7th....]

The item pictured is merely a copper or brass test piece of central matrix, with rough star placement and text spacing - it's not a pattern for anything.

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The bronze item pictured above is not a "hub trial," "die trial," "trial by fire," or a "Happy Trials to You..." (cue the Trigger cameo)

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On 5/29/2022 at 5:58 PM, RWB said:

FyingAl - Nice write-up and presentation. However if you will read my book "Girl on the Silver Dollar" you will begin to understand the real background and purpose of the design. There is a lot more information than in auction catalogs and the occasional NNP reference.

RWB ... you sparked my interest as  I have not read your book ... where can one buy it?  I searched my 3 web sites for Numismatic books and I came  up empty?

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On 6/7/2022 at 10:20 AM, mania said:

RWB ... you sparked my interest as  I have not read your book ... where can one buy it?  I searched my 3 web sites for Numismatic books and I came  up empty?

The distributor is Wizard Coin Supply, Chantilly, VA. Their website has ordering information. If you want an autographed copy, let them know when you order. There's no extra charge -- as long as my pen has ink.  :)

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Posted (edited)

Mania -- Here's the 2019 press release which will tell you more about the content.

Press Release

For Release September 12, 2019

Seneca Mill Press LLC proudly announces the publication of the long anticipated book Girl on the Silver Dollar,

by Roger W. Burdette.

It was a time when any female who modeled for an artist was lumped with immoral and fallen women. The public morality enjoyed praise for allegorical female figures in painting, architecture and sculpture, but heaped collective scorn if the same creation was identified as a specific woman. Anna W. Williams, known to her friends as “Nannie,” was caught in this hypocritical morality. She left no written expression of its emotional effects, but we know that she and her friends denied the accusations. To do anything else would have meant personal humiliation and ruin.

Within a year of the first release of George Morgan’s silver dollar design in 1878, Philadelphia newspapers were speculating about identity of the woman who posed for the Liberty portrait. Speculative reports were that a local woman, Anna W. Williams, had modeled for Morgan and it was her profile depicted on the new coin. Reporters interviewed Miss Williams and some of her friends, but could find no definitive answer – so they invented stories based on a few scarce facts. Curiously, one newspaper, at the close of a lengthy article, admitted that the dollar’s Miss Liberty did not resemble Miss Williams, but looked more like Morgan’s wife.

But such little touches of reality never deterred speculative “truth.” Until the time of her death in 1926, Anna Williams was followed by a plague of tall tales, and innuendo that left little doubt that she had compromised her feminine morals and modeled for an artist.

Roger W. Burdette’s latest research book, Girl on the Silver Dollar, is a search for truth after over 140 years of confusion. More than a decade of patient research, investigation and validation have produced a meaningful story of real people, behaving as people do in their daily lives. That Nannie modeled for George Morgan in October 1876, just weeks after he landed in America, is clearly established. A contemporary portrait titled “Anna W. Williams” was created by Philadelphia realist painter Thomas Eakins and his future wife Susan McDonald – exactly as described by one of Nannie’s friends. Morgan’s sketch book includes untitled pencil drawings that match Nannie’s features. An engraved illustration in Harper’s Monthly Magazine from 15 years later shows Nannie older but with the same distinctive features.

Yet, none of her features resemble any part of the 1878 silver dollar Liberty portrait.

Along with images of Anna’s other modeling work, Burdette presents details of her career as teacher, advocate and later Supervisor of Kindergartens in Philadelphia’s early childhood education system.

But Girl on the Silver Dollar is more than about Anna Williams. A separate chapter chronicles the development of a new “standard silver dollar” to replace the one eliminated by the Coinage Act of 1873. Here we find Mint Director Linderman on the verge of accepting William Barber’s new Liberty portrait (often called the “Sailor Head” by pattern collectors), only to suspend work when Morgan arrived from London. Copious pattern pieces photos, descriptions and quotations bring the reader into behind-the-public-scene discussion and controversy.

Controversy is also a theme in the following chapter dedicated to uncovering the truth behind elusive 1895-P silver dollars struck for circulation. Long in demand by coin collectors, none of the 12,000 pieces struck for circulation have ever been identified. This forced collectors to include an 1895 proof dollar in their cabinets and albums to fill that gaping hole. Normal Philadelphia Mint operations suggest the twelve bags of circulation dollars were placed in a crowded vault, then transferred to the new Philadelphia Mint sometime between 1899 and 1901. Some authors have speculated that the 1895 coins were actually dated “1894” even when ample evidence argues otherwise. The most common explanation is that all 1895 circulation dollars were indiscriminately melted during the rush to convert coins into bullion for sale to Great Britain in 1918.

The final chapter of Girl on the Silver Dollar brings us to the original and implementation of the Pittman Act of 1918. This urgently passed Act of Congress caused nearly half of all existing U.S. silver dollars to be converted into bullion and sold to Great Britain to help stabilize the economy in India during World War I. Although we know the number of silver dollars destroyed, no records were kept of coin dates or mints. Thus, a great anonymous hoard was destroyed and an equally anonymous hoard remained in Treasury vaults until the great silver dollar distribution of 1963-64. (See Burdette’s early 2019 book release, Private Pattern and Related Pieces: International Nickel & Gould Incorporated, for details about the run of Treasury silver dollars.)

Together, Girl on the Silver Dollar is a feast for the eyes and minds of coin collectors everywhere. Every owner of a Morgan silver dollar who has wondered about the origin of this beloved, if somewhat stuffy Liberty portrait, will find new revelations. Ideas and facts not only about the coin but about the people who designed and manufactured theses silver dollars are found on every page. We can see the coins pilling in unwanted masses, shuttled from vault to vault, and eventually used as war-time tools for the Allied victory.

Edited by RWB
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Ah ... Just ask and one will receive. Thanks for the info. I just order one ( and yes with a signature - I presume yours? ) ... gee maybe some day (100Years from now) it might be worth a bundle :)

The press release sounds intriguing - I just read a similar book with a historical perspective  " IN GOD WE TRUST " by William Bierly - I learned a lot and appreciated the historical views very much.

Thanks

 

PS ... I had lost the Wizard Coin Supply web link as I had order before from them ... so thanks for that reminder as well,

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Posted (edited)
On 6/7/2022 at 6:28 PM, mania said:

IN GOD WE TRUST " by William Bierly

It's a good book but it also has quite a few historical mistakes. There is a chapter on this subject, which includes careful original research including contemporary diary entries from a member of Watkinson's Court Street Baptist Church, in my book Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908.

Send me a PM with your email address if you'd like a free PDF copy of the booklet.

Edited by RWB
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A quick bump here - I was on a week hiatus so I was not working on this. However, I have been reading Roger's work and I can say that it will help me with my distinction. I was pleased to see that the 1876 dollars appear to have nothing to do with the 1875 "Sailor Heads" based not only on mint correspondence but design and purpose, just as I had inferred and hoped. This was a fantastic revelation and I am very happy with it, it should effectively put the nail in the coffin for calling 1876 and 1877 patterns "Sailor Heads".

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I look forward to reading your article, and I hope that I helped in some small way, but just to play devil's advocate, the 1875 head and the 1876 head are more similar than different.

Look at the reverses of the 1807 Capped Bust half and the 1891 Barber Half. One can reasonably argue that they are the same design with differences in inscriptions. At the other end of the difference scale, the two different $50 Half Union obverses are certainly the same design, even though they have slight differences in ornamentation.

Your opinion that the 1876 and 1877 designs are not "Sailor Heads" is a perfectly valid opinion, but others may have other opinions.

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On 6/13/2022 at 7:20 AM, CaptHenway said:

I look forward to reading your article, and I hope that I helped in some small way, but just to play devil's advocate, the 1875 head and the 1876 head are more similar than different.

This can be true for design, but I tried to go deeper. I think I have found, based on solid conjecture, that the origination of the 1875 patterns is entirely different than those of 1876, thus changing how we as numismatists think of them. I have been trying to obtain mint documents to prove this, and all I need is something mentioning Barber creating the "Sailor Head" design for a 20-cent piece of 1875. This would prove it, but of course the information may not exist so for now it remains (in my opinion) strong conjecture. 

The reasoning that I think these patterns need to be distinguished from each other is really threefold:

1. The neckerchief is gone. Without that the bust bears no resemblance to a sailor, I'd liken this to calling the "Schoolgirl" patterns the same as Morgan's coiled hair goloid dollar pattern (J-1631 to J-1634) just because the hair changed slightly. The designs are essentially the same with the difference being the hair is up rather than down, but the coiled hair patterns have no resemblance of a schoolgirl. As such, they aren't called "Schoolgirl" patterns. I think the same needs to be done with the 1876-77 patterns. Yes, the design is similar, but if the nickname makes no sense, why should we keep it? 

2. Since so little is known about patterns, nicknames mean a lot to the average numismatist. They would, in general, group together these patterns in origination and design based on the nickname. This makes a lot of what is thought about the patterns of 1876-77 false, as they have their own unique story. To essentially make that disappear is really somewhat of a tragedy. Who heard of Barber's attempt to produce a dollar design? The answer would be very few, because that attempt has been largely grouped in with the 1875 patterns that have nothing to do with that process, and as such the history to go along with the dollars of 1876-77 (which is unique form that of 1875) disappears. Perhaps the removal of the nickname could change that. 

3. It clears up a lot of what is known about the 1875 patterns as well. It seems that all but a very small group of descriptions of these coins consists of nothing more than a mention of design, and nothing about the creation of it. We know the story of the 1876-77 patterns. Now with some information, I think I can reasonably conclude that I have found the origin of the 1875 patterns, and it is special. It shows some history of the twenty-cent piece and it shows some information about William Barber. This story also gets confused when it gets looped in with the patterns of 1876-77, because then you have conflicting stories. 
 

Of course, collectors may just not care, which would make the point of my article moot. In any way, I feel that perhaps it may help someone understand the history. 

On 6/13/2022 at 7:20 AM, CaptHenway said:

Look at the reverses of the 1807 Capped Bust half and the 1891 Barber Half. One can reasonably argue that they are the same design with differences in inscriptions. 

I didn't quite follow this, the designs are entirely different as one eagle is perched and one is a heraldic eagle. The inscriptions are different as well, and if you were arguing they were the same I don't think you'd be making a rational argument. Was there a typo here somewhere? I agree with the half union point, however. The key there is that they were all created with the same purpose and reasoning behind them. 

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I have made a discovery while writing a paragraph on the possible inspiration of the patterns, and I think this may be solid evidence: 

 

Potential Inspiration

William Barber appears to have drawn on many sculptures of the period for possible inspiration. As such, there is no way to tell which sculpture or artist he exactly drew on for inspiration. However, there are distinct similarities in sculptures done by Powers and Barber’s work. Hiram Powers was one of, if not the most, famous sculptor in the nineteenth century. His works were able to encourage the public to overcome a general distaste toward nudity in sculpture and those works were seen across the country. Barber would have almost certainly have seen and been familiar with Powers' works, and it is quite possible, even likely, that he drew inspiration from them. Of course, it is up to the individual to decide for themselves if the similarities are enough to accept whether or not Barber used Power’s works as a model for the “Sailor Head” patterns. 

Da8wBCmEmblQmqU7ufoewYkzHjpIbtg1WCX5TFQGALlhsyx1vkcG4WoP10ZegNLKqu2YIPXubba5mwdcb62iV-FqMTXyqU02dBoke_MHWJqu5wzPNN3zRcMh8jVRisid0LgmaKPDDrj8XDsASg

The patterns of 1876 and 1877 also seem to draw on a separate sculpture by Powers, his sculptures of Ginevra. There are two, one unfinished, and one finished, that model the two types of coronet used on the 1876 and 1877 patterns almost exactly, with one having no ornamentation and one having ornamentation. This further illustrates the difference in origin between the two sets of patterns, as they are almost certainly from different model types. 


ulHS_O5qxNoI3cVWkpjSMHp6UoIuXM2Rkxy9Kpe-4eOXFqL3-eAa_gy_KUgY2x8hhezyyCdqFith6Mj3Dzcrg7bq55KIIOe9oiJ_APiXmUW-67HhbmpEqgcK5w8phrORvnuOovvC0mGY099dRgLcRibyRPTPxilSSvPHW0OEtNMNw2KWYeX0_oY_t0GyRU4BqQDIUzzYRPMAmVDv4KTTYpw9ht1qPJDWER3oa25Ej5RI-XQckKtNf1ZBUVSF2FjoYE84Xgbhxgt_30D5Ky-d90_lNahw6u-ty-tw

 

Above was my paragraph, Roger of course may disagree with this conclusion as there is no way to tell for sure what Barber used as a model. However, I find the similarities rather shocking, especially the coronet on the sculpture of Ginevra. 

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There were sets of copy busts, paintings, engravings and other training materials in common use in the 19th and early 20th centuries (and long before) so there's nothing unusual about resemblance of any coin or medal portrait to one of these classical copies. The best we can do absent specific written references is to say "It resembles NNN NNNN."

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On 6/13/2022 at 11:05 AM, RWB said:

There were sets of copy busts, paintings, engravings and other training materials in common use in the 19th and early 20th centuries (and long before) so there's nothing unusual about resemblance of any coin or medal portrait to one of these classical copies. The best we can do absent specific written references is to say "It resembles NNN NNNN."

This is essentially what I ended up saying, that it looked close but there's no way to say for sure, so make up your mind based on the possibility. I never said it was hard evidence, just a good possibility. I did notice, Roger, that you had a sub note in your Girl on the Silver Dollar about the mint never using Powers' work, I thought this was interesting as I came across it, and the similarities here.

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On 6/13/2022 at 12:03 PM, RWB said:

I hope the book was interesting to you.

:)

It was fantastic! I am currently about 3/4 through, but I skimmed to see what was left. I wanted to get my initial thoughts down on the 1876 patterns before I missed something, but what I got through was a great read. It certainly explained why the 1876 patterns exist and it really solidified my thought that the patterns of 1875 were separate in creation. 

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On 6/2/2022 at 12:34 AM, RWB said:

There was internal correspondence about possibly striking a special Centennial Souvenir dollar, but there wasn't much enthusiasm for it,

The more things change the more they stay the same.  The Mint didn't have much enthusiasm for the Bicentennial coins either.

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On 6/13/2022 at 8:02 AM, FlyingAl said:

This can be true for design, but I tried to go deeper. I think I have found, based on solid conjecture, that the origination of the 1875 patterns is entirely different than those of 1876, thus changing how we as numismatists think of them. I have been trying to obtain mint documents to prove this, and all I need is something mentioning Barber creating the "Sailor Head" design for a 20-cent piece of 1875. This would prove it, but of course the information may not exist so for now it remains (in my opinion) strong conjecture. 

The reasoning that I think these patterns need to be distinguished from each other is really threefold:

1. The neckerchief is gone. Without that the bust bears no resemblance to a sailor, I'd liken this to calling the "Schoolgirl" patterns the same as Morgan's coiled hair goloid dollar pattern (J-1631 to J-1634) just because the hair changed slightly. The designs are essentially the same with the difference being the hair is up rather than down, but the coiled hair patterns have no resemblance of a schoolgirl. As such, they aren't called "Schoolgirl" patterns. I think the same needs to be done with the 1876-77 patterns. Yes, the design is similar, but if the nickname makes no sense, why should we keep it? 

2. Since so little is known about patterns, nicknames mean a lot to the average numismatist. They would, in general, group together these patterns in origination and design based on the nickname. This makes a lot of what is thought about the patterns of 1876-77 false, as they have their own unique story. To essentially make that disappear is really somewhat of a tragedy. Who heard of Barber's attempt to produce a dollar design? The answer would be very few, because that attempt has been largely grouped in with the 1875 patterns that have nothing to do with that process, and as such the history to go along with the dollars of 1876-77 (which is unique form that of 1875) disappears. Perhaps the removal of the nickname could change that. 

3. It clears up a lot of what is known about the 1875 patterns as well. It seems that all but a very small group of descriptions of these coins consists of nothing more than a mention of design, and nothing about the creation of it. We know the story of the 1876-77 patterns. Now with some information, I think I can reasonably conclude that I have found the origin of the 1875 patterns, and it is special. It shows some history of the twenty-cent piece and it shows some information about William Barber. This story also gets confused when it gets looped in with the patterns of 1876-77, because then you have conflicting stories. 
 

Of course, collectors may just not care, which would make the point of my article moot. In any way, I feel that perhaps it may help someone understand the history. 

I didn't quite follow this, the designs are entirely different as one eagle is perched and one is a heraldic eagle. The inscriptions are different as well, and if you were arguing they were the same I don't think you'd be making a rational argument. Was there a typo here somewhere? I agree with the half union point, however. The key there is that they were all created with the same purpose and reasoning behind them. 

On the 1807 Half Dollar, I specified the Capped Bust version, not the earlier Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle type struck that year.

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On 6/14/2022 at 8:01 AM, CaptHenway said:

On the 1807 Half Dollar, I specified the Capped Bust version, not the earlier Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle type struck that year.

I assume you mean this one:

image.thumb.png.96046009dfd515cad0ff18fdbb78334e.png

And the Barber, I couldn't find an image as they are in the Smithsonian, l but they are very similar to the 1892 adopted design that we all know, with just a few stars in different spots. I don't see any similarity at all to a Barber reverse. Perhaps you meant to say they cannot reasonably argue they are the same design?

On 6/13/2022 at 7:20 AM, CaptHenway said:

Look at the reverses of the 1807 Capped Bust half and the 1891 Barber Half. One can reasonably argue that they are the same design with differences in inscriptions.

 

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