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The E-Sylum (8/29/2010)

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Andy Lustig attended the recent seminar on the life and work of artist and coin designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and he submitted this report for E-Sylum readers. Thanks! -Editor

Saint-Gaudens Studio, Cornish, NH I attended the ANA's post-convention seminar at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire. Despite a modest turnout, it was a spectacular success!

Most of the participants convened late Sunday afternoon at the nearby Juniper Hill Inn, where we were treated to a tour of the house, followed by a modest buffet dinner. After that, a number of us settled into the Presidential Suite for a post-dinner drink and conversation. For me, it was a nice way to wind down after 11 long days working in Boston!

The next morning, the museum's curator, Dr. Henry J. Duffy, treated us to a long tour of the site's buildings, grounds and sculpture. (Of special numismatic interest among the items displayed were the original plasters for a 1907 Extra High Relief $20 with Arabic Date, and another of St Gaudens' famous Indian Head $20, the pattern formerly known as J-1776.)

After a leisurely box lunch, it was time for two days of “class work”. Henry Duffy filled in some more details about St Gaudens’ life and career, and got us to the point where we felt like we truly knew the man. Roger Burdette, whose Renaissance of American Coinage books gave their name to the seminar, spent several hours walking us through the story of Teddy Roosevelt, Augustus St Gaudens and the coins that resulted from their collaboration.

Ute Wartenberg Kagan focused on St Gaudens, the man, as revealed by both his medallic work and his cartoon-illustrated personal correspondence. And John Mercanti, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, gave us an inside look at the Mint, illustrated in part by the story of the creation of the 2009 mini-Ultra.

On Tuesday night, the final night for us at Juniper Hill Inn, we were treated to a superb five course meal, a fitting end to a truly decadent three days of pure-pleasure numismatics. And the next morning, we all headed home.

The instructors, and especially ANA Education Project Manager Susan McMillan, all did a tremendous job, and I heartily encourage everyone to take advantage of the ANA's next “Special Education Event”, should there be one.

And, along those lines, now would be a good time to ask E-Sylum readers for suggestions for future ANA “road trips”. And think hard. I’m ready for another vacation!

Hmmm. Good question. I think one good choice would be a numismatic seminar at Brookgreen Gardens, a haven for sculpture where works from several coin and medal designers, including Saint-Gaudens, are displayed. Another would be a visit to the Philadelphia Mint, where Mercanti and his design team could show how the coin creation process works in the digital age. What do our readers think? What other must-see numismatic destinations would make a great setting for a seminar? -Editor


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