Anthony de Francisci

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Anthony de Francisci
Anthony de Francisci in his studio.jpg
De Francisci in his studio
Born Antonio de Francisci
(1887-07-13)July 13, 1887
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Died August 20, 1964(1964-08-20) (aged 77)
Manhattan, New York
Nationality Italian-American
Known for Sculpting
Notable work(s) Peace Dollar
Patron(s) U.S. Mint

Anthony (Antonio) de Francisci (Italian pronunciation: [ˌde fraŋˈtʃiʃʃi]; July 13, 1887 – August 20, 1964) was an Italian-American sculptor who designed a number of United States coins and medals. His most famous design was the Peace Dollar, which was first minted in 1921.[1]

Early life and training[edit]

De Francisci immigrated to the United States in 1905[2] and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1913.[3] He was the son of Benedetto de Francisci and Maria Liberante and was married to Mary Teresa Cafarelli.[4] De Francisci "studied under some very fine coin designers: Fraser, MacNeil, and Weinman."[5]

Career[edit]

De Francisci served as an Academician of the National Academy of Design and a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society.[6]

Medal (Obverse) for The Society of Medalists designed by de Francisci, 1935
Medal (Reverse) for The Society of Medalists designed by de Francisci, 1935
National Guard Bureau insignia designed by de Francisci, 1921

Works[edit]

Peace Dollar[edit]

Late in 1921, the Commission of Fine Arts held a competition for the design of a new silver dollar and invited "eight prominent sculptors to participate."[7] Several of the entrants had already designed U.S. coins and achieved considerable fame. Although the youngest participant and a novice coin designer, de Francisci "won the competition and took home the $1,500 cash prize."[7] Regarding this event, "The Dec. 20, 1920, issue of the Baltimore Sun reported…'Eight medalists, all of them from New York, were in the competition for the award. The designs in bas-relief were exhibited privately in the office of [Mint Director Raymond T. Baker], after he had shown the winning one to President Harding. The President expressed his pleasure and approval.'"[7] Becoming the designer of the Peace Dollar and receiving considerable publicity as a result of this accomplishment greatly boosted the reputation of de Francisci, taking his career to a whole new level.

De Francisci used his wife Mary Teresa as the model for the Liberty head of the Peace Dollar[1] and when asked about its design, de Francisci "told a newspaper columnist that the portrait was not a 'photograph' of Mrs. de Francisci but was a 'composite' face that 'typified something of America'"[7] De Francisci also said about the design of the Peace Dollar "that his goal was to capture the spirit of the country--its intellectual speed, vigor and vitality."[7]

Other works[edit]

De Francisci created the 1920 Maine Centennial commemorative half dollar.[8] Also, de Francisci designed the World War II Honorable Service Lapel Button, unofficially known as the "ruptured duck." The button was intended for wear as a lapel pin on civilian clothing to recognize military service. However, the military did not issue the button. Instead, it was available by private purchase.

He modelled the bronze high reliefs[9] of the drum base of the Sesquicentennial flagpole[10] erected in Union Square, New York, in 1924[11] and dedicated, July 4, 1926, to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The architect for the project was Perry Coke Smith. Starting from the rear, the effects of liberty, rendered as the march of progress in the arts, crafts and sciences of civilization is represented by figures that move towards the Declaration of Independence reproduced on a tablet at front center, while on the right, the effects of tyranny, in which fleeing humanity avidly reach for it.

According to his wife, de Francisci greatly admired Abraham Lincoln and featured the slain president on many of his personal works.[12] He designed a Lincoln medal for the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in New York.[12] In addition, de Francisci designed the inaugural medal for the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair.[8]

Selected works[edit]

Name Date Notes
Adolph Alexander Weinman Portrait Plaque 1915 De Francisci made this tribute to his mentor Weinman
Maine Centennial commemorative Half Dollar 1920
National Guard Bureau Insignia 1921 for Department of Defense
Peace Dollar 1921
Alessandro L. Chiostergi Portrait Plaque 1922
James Douglas Gold Medal 1922 (abt.) For American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
American Eagle Pin 1922 (abt.)
Texas Cavalry Service Medal 1924
12th issue, Fiat Vita 1935 The Society of Medalists series
Honorable Service Lapel Button
Congressional Gold Medal to General Pershing 1946
Inaugural medal for the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair 1964
Texas Ranger Congressional Medal
Cooper Medal 1964 Hall of Fame for Great Americans medal series
Lincoln Medal Hall of Fame for Great Americans medal series
Alfred P. Sloan Radio-TV Award Award for distinguished public service in highway safety

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Van Allen, Leroy C. and A. George Mallis. Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of U.S. Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars, 2d ed. (New York: Arco Publishing Company, Inc., 1977), 264.
  2. ^ U.S. Immigration Service. List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the U.S. Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival (Ship Manifest), Immigration Service Form 1500 B. S.S. Sicilian sailing from Napoli on November 16, 1905 and arriving in Port of New York on December 1, 1905. American Family Immigration History Center (Ellis Island Archives) posted this manifest online at www.ellisisland.org.
  3. ^ Marotta, Michael E. "The Peace Dollar", Coin-Gallery Online website, 2000. Accessed September 3, 2007.
  4. ^ Peace Dollar Model Had Special Claim to Fame
  5. ^ Hagans, William. "A Man of Many Hats", Coins, February 2000, 77.
  6. ^ The Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Artist Biography in the Cooper Medal booklet, circa 1964.
  7. ^ a b c d e LaMarre, Tom. "The Dollar Daze of 1921", Coins, October 1999, 56–57.
  8. ^ a b Howe, Marvine. "Teresa De Francisci, Miss Liberty Model For Coin, Dies at 92", The New York Times, October 21, 1990. Accessed on November 26, 2007.
  9. ^ De Francisci's models were cast by the most prominent bronze foundry of the Beaux-Arts period, Roman Bronze Works, New York.
  10. ^ It serves as well as a memorial of Tammany Hall leader Charles Francis Murphy (1858–1924).
  11. ^ The WPA Guide to New York City 1939:202.
  12. ^ a b LaMarre, Tom. "Lincoln Treasures", Coins, July 1999, 55.

External links[edit]