The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 13, March 26, 2023, Article 24


Archer M. Huntington was a major benefactor of the American Numismatic Society in New York, and served as its President from 1905 to 1910. E-Sylum Feature Writer and American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this additional background article illustrating Huntington's family and wealth. Thanks! Great history. -Editor

  Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973)

In past weeks we have discussed the mother and first wife of Archer Milton Huntington. He was left in a dark depression after his divorce from Helen. He was a tall man at six-foot-five-inches. During this time his weight grew to 350 pounds. His second wife brought him out of his depression.

Anna Hyatt Huntington.01 Anna Vaughn Hyatt was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 10. 1876. Her father was Alpheus Hyatt Jr. (1838-1902), a professor of paleontology and zoology at MIT and Harvard. Alpheus and an older sister sparked her early interest in animals and the study of animal anatomy. Her mother, Audella Beebe (1840-1932), was a landscape painter.

Anna studied animals in zoos and the circus. Her first art teacher was Henry Hudson Kitson who dropped her as a student after she identified anatomical flaws in his work. She studied at the Art Students League under Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Later she worked with Gutzon Borglum.

Anna moved from Boston to New York in 1902 to produce small bronze statuettes of animals noted for their lifelike appearance and active poses. Her work found a thriving market. It was reported that her 1912 earnings exceeded $50,000. This success allowed her to work and exhibit in Paris between 1906 and 1910. There he won acclaim for her 1910 equestrian sculpture of Joan of Arc.

Numismatist J. Sanford saltus contributed funds for a monumental sculpture to commemorate five hundred years since the birth of Joan of Arc. Anna Hyatt was commissioned to do the larger monument. It was dedicated on December 6, 1915, at Riverside Drive and 93rd Street in Manhattan. This was noted as the first sculpture of a real woman in New York and the first public sculpture by a woman artist. The statue became a symbol for a women's movement in America and for French resistance during World War I.

In February of 1917, the Architectural League of New York held a medieval-themed pagent at the Fête des Fous. Anna Vaughn Hyatt impersonated Joan of Arc in costume and rode in on a white horse.

Archer was impressed with Anna and commissioned her in 1921 to produce a medal of William Dean Howells for the American Academy of Arts and Letters. They collaborated on other projects for the Hispanic Society.

Anna and Archer were married on March 10, 1923. They referred to this as 3 in 1 Day as it was also their birthdates. She began a monumental El Cid for the courtyard of the Hispanic Society at 155th and Broadway. I regret that I did not pay more attention when I visited the American Numismatic Society across the courtyard in 1984.

Four years after their marriage she contracted tuberculosis. The illness limited her ability to work and effectively ended her New York career. In search of a favorable climate for a winter home, the couple bought four rice plantations south of Murrells Inlet in South Carolina. The Huntingtons built a mansion there called Atalaya Castle on property that grew to include 9100 acres. That is more than 14 square miles. The castle is now part of Huntington Beach State Park.

Anna saw the potential for her studio and sculpture garden to feature her works and the works of other artists including her older sister, Harriet Randolph Hyatt Mayor (1868-1960). The property has been developed into Brookgreen Gardens with the largest collection of outdoor sculptures by American artists in the world. The Lowland Zoo features native animals in natural settings.

Archer's funding allowed Anna to have some of her earlier works recast in larger sizes and donated to cultural institutions. In the 1930's, she expanded into sculptures cast in aluminum. Their lighter weight made transportation easier.

It was said of Archer, that everywhere he put his foot down, a museum sprouted. The couple were responsible for the creation of fourteen museums and four nature preserves.

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington died at Redding Ridge, Connecticut, on October 4, 1973. She is buried at the Collis P. Huntington mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, along with Collis, Archer and other family members.

  The Huntington Medal

  Huntington Medal.01

A medal of Archer Milton Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington was produced by C. Paul Jennewein. It was originally offered in 1973 with a $2500 membership to Brookgreen Gardens. The 76mm medal was struck in bronze by Medallic Art Company.

This medal was on my want list for some time and I was unwilling to pay the original price. I acquired it later at a somewhat reduced price.

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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