William Barber (engraver)
Mr. Barber was born in London May 2, 1807. He learned his profession from his father, John Barber, and was employed on silver plate work, after his emigration to the United States. He resided in Boston for 10 years and was variously employed in his line of work. His skill in this way came to the knowledge of Mr. Longacre, then Engraver of the Mint, and he secured his services as an assistant in 1865. In January 1869 upon the death of Mr. Longacre, he was appointed as his successor, and continued in that position for the rest of his life. He died as a result of severe chills brought on by bathing at the seashore. Besides much original work on pattern coins, he also produced over 40 medals, public and private. The work on all of them very creditable.
Barber is best known for his "Britannia"-inspired trade dollar design, which was produced from 1873–1878 for circulation in the Far East, and in proof-only form thereafter until 1885. The 1884 and 1885 Trade Dollars are ultra-rarities, with ten and five coined, respectively. He also adapted the long-standing Seated Liberty design for use on the ill-fated 20-cent piece, which saw circulation only in 1875 and 1876, with proofs struck in 1877 and 1878.
Barber was a prolific pattern designer, and for a time engaged in a "pattern war" with fellow coin designer and future Chief Engraver George T. Morgan. Barber was succeeded as Chief Engraver by his son Charles.
- Trade Dollar
- Twenty Cent Piece
- Various patterns, including the Half-union, the "Sailor Head" Twenty Cent Piece, several 1877 half dollars, Amazonian Quarter and Amazonian Three Dollar Coin.
- Whisker, "Barber, William".
- Vermeule, p. 69.
- Cornelius Vermeule, Numismatic art in America : aesthetics of the United States coinage, Atlanta, Ga. : Whitman Pub., 2007.
- James B. Whisker, Pennsylvania workers in brass, copper and tin : 1681-1900, Lewiston, N.Y. : Edwin Mellen Press, 1993.
James B. Longacre
|Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint
Charles E. Barber
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