As early as 1879, public dissatisfaction with the Seated Liberty design was heard in Washington and Philadelphia. It was felt by many that the nation’s coin designs were second-rate, but few could have predicted how mundane a change could really be. New designs were submitted by Mint engravers throughout the early 1880s, but the only outcome was the production of a new nickel in 1883 designed by Chief Engraver Charles Barber. In 1891, when there was much discussion of a public competition for new designs for the dime, quarter dollar and half dollar, Barber reported to Mint Director James Kimball that there was no one in the country who was capable of assisting him in preparing original designs.
This same egotism was also found in one of the leading sculptors of the day, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who confided to the Mint Director that there were only four men in the world competent to do such a.... (Expand Text)