In their upcoming February 2023 Long Beach Expo sale, Heritage is offering an amazing piece of U.S. numismatic history - two original hard wax models created by engraver James Longacre for gold coinage.
Original Wax Engravings on Copper Disks. This renowned, framed set of original James B. Longacre wax models is both aesthetically pleasing and numismatically important. Intricately rendered by Longacre's hand, the wax models represent an early step in the mid-1850s die making process, where they were critical to both the creative design and the successful completion of satisfactory steel hubs. Longacre was a deliberate engraver and always meticulous in his work. The wax models allowed him to finalize his initial sketches, creating three-dimensional wax motifs that were several inches in diameter -- much larger than their final size, and an essential requirement for ease in workmanship.
Once the wax models were complete, they were cast in plaster. The hardened plaster casts served as molds, into which molten metal was poured to create a usable copy of the original artwork. The metal copies were a necessary step before being transferred the Contamin portrait lathe for reduction and eventual preparation of a steel master die.
The Indian Princess portrait and the Agricultural Wreath designs were Longacre's contributions not only to the three dollar gold piece in 1854, but also to the redesigned gold dollar. Type Two gold dollars feature the Agricultural Wreath reverse, which was then carried over to Type Three gold dollars employing Longacre's Indian Princess obverse (in use from 1856 through the series end in 1889). The elegant Agricultural Wreath also appears on Flying Eagle cents dated 1856 through 1858. Rick Snow once owned these models, later purchased from him by Tom Bender via Brian Wagner.
These wax enlargements are preserved an attractive, well-made wooden frame measuring 13 3/8" wide x 8 3/8" tall x 1 7/8" deep. A thick, cream-colored matte surrounds the wax models with circular, beveled openings, each measuring 3 5/8" in diameter. The wax engravings sit on heavy copper disks, each securely supported by the custom frame. These Longacre wax models may or may not have been used to create iron castings for the reducing lathe. They are plated on page 31 of United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889 by Q. David Bowers with Douglas Winter. The Agricultural Wreath model is plated in Rick Snow's The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide (3rd edition, Volume I) on page 22.
To read the complete lot description, see:
Two Hard Wax Models
Prepared by James B. Longacre
The Indian Princess and Agricultural Wreath
Wayne Homren, Editor
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