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V.D.B and F.G: Strange Parallells in Designer Intitals

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Frank Gasparro retired in 1981 with 40 years of Federal service. His legacy would be that he was the last Chief Engraver at the United States Mint to end his term.


His successor, Elizabeth Jones served as Chief Engraver till 1990, at which time she resigned from the post.


The U.S. Mint never appointed a Chief Engraver after Ms. Jones, all the needed work being done by a pool of engravers known as the engraving staff.


So Mr. Gasparro was the last of a breed. His legacy would be rich in history and flavor, and his accomplishments were many.


He took over as Chief Engraver when Gilroy Roberts resigned to enter private practice. Frank designed the Eisenhower and Anthony Dollars, and the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar, and submitted Patterns for approval by the Mint.


But his legacy.....for Lincoln Cent collectors.........will always be the fact that he was the designer of the Memorial Reverse that replaced Victor David Brenners Wheat Reverse in 1959.


The story is well-known as to what Brenner had to endure when his intials, V.D.B. were deemed too prominent on the bottom of the new Cent. They were removed by Chief Engraver Charles Barber and did not appear again until 1918, when upon Barbers death, George Morgan incused them at the base of Lincoln's shoulder.


They remained there, inconspicuously, ever since.


So how does this apply to Frank Gasparro?


Mr. Gasparro applied his F.G. initials inconspicuously to the right of the Lincoln Memorial. They were small, and as the years progressed, the original Master Hub lost detail.


It was decided that a new reverse Master Hub would be issued in 1973. Among the things that needed to be addressed was the fact that Frank's initials oftentimes lost detail, and were barely recognizable as the dies wore in the striking presses.


It was decided that the initials would be strengthened as a part of the new Hub.


So Frank re-engraved them. He made the initials bigger. Almost three times as large as the previous ones.


Somebody took notice.


It remains pure conjecture as to who complained. I know of no records that point to any one person or group. The fact is that someone....Mint Official or otherwise....had a problem with the size (prominence) of his initials.


It must have been a big problem, because Frank was told to design an entirly new Reverse Hub for 1974, making the 1973 reverse a one-year type reverse.


Look at any 1973 Cent and you'll see. The Initials are quite large, and extend slightly above the pillar to the left. Only on this one year will you see them like that.


In 1974 they were reduced to about half that size.


So, public opinion, or Mint intervention forced Mr. Gasparro into a re-design.....just like the one in 1909.


...........Only this time the initials stayed. albeit smaller.


V.D.B. and F.G.


64 years apart yet so much in common.



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I learned this after I started this post....from a private message sent to me:


Back in 1973, when the new Lincoln Cents began to appear in circulation,

a collector noticed the larger FG initials, and sent a sample to Coin World for documentation or comment.


According to Him, it must have been a slow news week, and Coin World ran the story about the new, larger initials.


The supposition is that the Mint, which we all know is very shy about publicity, went ahead and created a brand new reverse master hub in 1974, with the initials diminished somewhat, but still larger than prior to 1973.


That, according to him, is why there is only one year, 1973, that FG is that large.


Well....at least they didn't remove them like with Brenner in1909.


Interesting, to say the least...



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