US Coins

Galvanos, plasters and corroborating papers from 1930s

14-inch reverse plaster for Howard Weinman’s 1936 Long Island Tercentenary half dollar is now known to the numismatic market, after being held in the American sculptor’s family’s numismatic collection for the past 88 years.

Images provided by Mike Byers, Mike Byers Inc.

Previously unknown to the numismatic community since their creation 88 years ago, a plaster model and galvanos for American sculptor Howard K. Weinman’s 1936 Long Island Tercentenary half dollar along with associated documentation have been acquired from his family by professional numismatist Mike Byers from Mike Byers Inc., in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Howard Weinman — one of the sons of noted sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, who designed the Winged Liberty Head dime and Walking Liberty half dollar — died at age 75 in Milton, Vermont, on March 1, 1976, and the plaster model and galvanos were held by the family since then. Howard Weinman’s brother, Adolph’s other son, Robert, was a renowned medallic sculptor in his own right.

Robert Weinman died Sept. 7, 2003, at age 88.

Adolph Weinman passed away at 81 on Aug. 8, 1952, in Port Chester, New York.

Byers says the models and supportive materials are currently not for sale, but may be placed for public auction sometime during calendar year 2025.

Byers’ acquisition comprises a 14-inch diameter plaster model with a 10-inch inner diameter of the 1936 commemorative half dollar’s reverse, 10-inch obverse and reverse galvanos of Weinman’s commemorative half dollar designs, documentation from Weinman’s estate detailing the models, as well as contemporary 1936 newspaper clippings from the Long Island Sunday Press and Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Also included are two sepia toned photographs depicting Howard Weinman in 1935 working on the half dollar preparations at his Colchester, Vermont home.

Plaster models are made during the design process as part of preparing the necessary tooling and dies for producing the actual coins. The plaster models may be either positive or negative images, illustrating details in relief as they will actually appear on a struck coin, or sunken and in reverse, for adjustments to be made before creating another plaster model.

Medallic Art Company had applied a silver matte finish to the surface of the reverse plaster model.

According to Byers, “In numismatic and medallic work, a galvano is always one-sided and made by placing a bas-relief mold or pattern (of plaster, plastic or metal) in an electrolytic tank containing an electrolyte solution. Galvanos can be made positive or negative (provided the pattern is the opposite: a positive pattern makes a negative galvano). In the numismatic and medallic field, negative galvanos are the form of pattern making of a bas-relief to be converted into a die. Galvano casts are often mounted on wood and become a very desirable wall hanging.”

The galvanos Byers secured from Howard Weinman’s family are silver-plated and mounted on 16-inch by 16-inch mahogany plaques, with struck commemorative half dollars mounted below left and right of the respective galvano to illustrate the actual coin designs as intended.

The obverse galvano features Weinman’s adopted design depicting a male Dutch settler in a conjoined portrait with an Algonquin brave. The galvano of the reverse depicts the medal’s adopted reverse illustrating a Dutch sailing vessel.

Byers explains that in numismatic writer Don Taxay’s reference, An Illustrated History of U.S. Commemorative Coinage, the author published an image of one of Weinman’s early obverse renditions for the commemorative half dollar, depicting IN GOD WE TRUST instead of the E PLURIBUS UNUM that appears on the obverse of the adopted design.

Both the reverse galvano and reverse plaster that Byers secured bear the adopted design, but are missing IN GOD WE TRUST, which was added beneath the sailing vessel at a later date.

In Anthony Swiatek and Walter Breen’s reference The Encyclopedia of United States Silver & Gold Commemorative Coins, the researchers noted that before the Philadelphia Mint executed production of 100,000 of the 1936 Long Island Tercentenary half dollars, the eighth chief engraver of the United States Mint, John R. Sinnock, added IN GOD WE TRUST below the sailing vessel on the reverse.

Additional information can be found online on Byers’ website at https://minterrornews.com/long-island.html or on the website of USpatterns.com.

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