Chester Alan Arthur was in the White House, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was napping in a nursery in Hyde Park, New York. FDR, after all, was only one year old at the time. Horse-drawn carriages ruled the roads—and in New York City they also reigned supreme on the just-completed Brooklyn Bridge.
The year was 1883, and one year after FDR’s arrival in that nursery, the United States Mint was busy giving birth to a “baby” of its own: the Liberty Head five-cent piece.
The father of the new coin was A. Loudon Snowden, Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint. Snowden believed that the nation’s three minor coins—the cent, three-cent piece and five-cent piece—should be uniform in design and metallic composition.
In 1881 he directed Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber to prepare suitable sketches for these denominations, with all.... (Expand Text)