American Numismatic Society
American Numismatic Society



A McKinley Memorial Gold Dollar, 1916, obverse by Barber (United States Mint image)

Charles Edward Barber papers, 1868-1916
0.5 cubic feet (2 boxes)

Biographical note
Engraver Charles Edward Barber (1840-1917) was born in London and came to America in 1852. He was the sixth chief engraver at the Philadelphia Mint (1879-1917), a position previously held by his father, William Barber. He is known for his 1883 Liberty Head nickel and 1892 dime, quarter, and half dollar as well as his work on commemorative coins such as the Columbian half dollar (1892), Isabella quarter (1893), and Lafayette dollar (1900). He sculpted the obverse of a President William McKinley memorial gold dollar shortly before his death (1916). He is also remembered for his opposition to the use of non-Mint artists, particularly when U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt proposed that sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens design U.S. coins.

Collection
Photocopies of Barber’s personal papers, which were donated to the Smithsonian Institution by the coin dealer firm Stack’s in 1991. Includes notebooks listing coins and medals he owned; a record book of kept by A.W. Straub, foreman of the Die Makers Room at the U.S. Mint (1880-1886); and correspondence relating to coin production and design for Bolivia (1882, 1883), San Domingo (1897-1900), Costa Rica (1899-1912), Colombia (1902), Venezuela (1902-1903), Honduras (1902-1904), Panama (1902-1910), Haiti (1903-1904), El Salvador (1904), China (1904-1905), Nicaragua (1905), Japan (1908), Liberia (1909), Mexico (1910-1911), and Cuba (1914-1915). Other correspondence relates to topics such as the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson (1868), a request for a new die of the Lincoln medal from Victor David Brenner (1909), and a letter from A.A. Weinman discussing progress and problems with the Mercury Dime and the Liberty Walking Half Dollar (1916).

Archival Collections