WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil,  of the Beaux Arts School American classic sculptor of Native images and American history.  ~ World’s Fairs, statues, monuments, coins, and more… ~ Hot-links ( lower right) lead to works by Hermon A. MacNeil.   ~ Over 200 of stories & 2,000 photos form this virtual MacNeil Gallery stretching east to west  New York to New Mexico ~ Oregon to S. Carolina.   ~ 2021 marks the 155th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth. ~~Do you WALK or DRIVE by MacNeil sculptures DAILY!   ~~ CHECK it OUT!

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

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In the heart of downtown Saint Joseph, Missouri the “Pony Express Rides Again.”

The Pony Express - Saint Joe, Mo

Hermon A. MacNeil’s massive 1940 Sculpture has been heading ‘west’ out of town since its installation at the origin of historic Pony Express trail across Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, to California.

St Joe Missouri to Sacramento California in only 10 days

Visit this Sculpture by Hermon A. MacNeil

[mappress]

 

 MacNeil Month  #4  —  February 22, 2021 

 

JO Davidson

Political Sculptor 

Hermon MacNeil

Monument Maker

1930 – 1944

 

 JO DAVIDSON   ~ ~ “Political Sculptor” ~ ~

After the World War, requests for portrait busts occupied much of Jo Davidson’s  time sculpting.  His reputation for as a sculptor of good works and fast results traveled quicker than even his own frequent migrations across the Atlantic. He described his approach to portraits as “simple.”

I never had them pose but just talked about everything in the world.  Sculpture, I felt, was another language altogether and had nothing to do with words.  As soon as I got to work, I felt this other language growing between myself and the person I was “busting.”  I felt it in my hands.  Sometimes the people talked as if I was their confessor.  As they talked, I got an immediate insight into the sitters.”  [Between … p86-87.]

That approach used those same talented fingers that twenty years earlier touched clay in a barrel at Yale sculpture lab.  Those fingers were still touching the clay of Jo Davidson’s future.  Rather than hindering drive and ambition, the War years seemed to focus Jo more sharply.  

During the decades of the twenties, thirties, and forties “the powerful, the wealthy, and the talented were literally at Davidson’s fingertips.  During these three decades he completed hundreds of portraits as well as a numerous figural works.”

 DOUBLEDAY PORTRAITS  

In 1929 Jo had made a bust of George Doran of Doubleday, Doran and Company. Afterward George proposed an idea that Jo make busts of the company’s best selling authors in America and England.  The proposal and opportunities delighted Jo Davidson.

Jo’s self-appointed role as a “plastic historian” of his era contained his own mental list of potential subjects.  Many of Doran’s authors were already on Jo’s informal list.  Many were already Jo’s personal friends.  Later Doran sent a letter with a list of a dozen possible subjects.  Doran hosted a series of luncheons to gather the authors and initiate the project. 

Aldous Huxley by Jo Davidson, 1930

Through 1929-1930, Davidson modeled in Paris, London and New York to complete the assignment.  Eventually he completed portraits of James Boyce, Hugh Walpole, Frank Swinnerton, Edgar Wallace, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Booth Tarkington, Robinson Jeffers, Sir James Barrie, John Galsworthy, Georg Brandes, and Christopher Morley.  He made a bust of Rudyard Kippling from sketches made at a group luncheon, a product that delighted Doran. 

John Galsworthy by Jo Davidson

In June 1931, Jo Davidson opened a show of the results of the Doran project as “Portrait Busts of Some Contemporary Men of Letters” at Knoedler Galleries on Bond Street in New York City.  Jo added his portraits of George Bernard Shaw, James M. Barrie, and John Galsworthy to the show. The event was a benefit for the Royal Literary Fund.  Posters flooded the underground with busts of Shaw, Maugham, Lawrence and others. 

One reviewer wrote: “I never have never read a book of criticism that so subtly and completely inventoried the mind of the age as this room of Jo Davidson’s. It is a superb exercise of lively, sensitive, well-informed intelligence,”   All in all, the project and show assembled this “plastic historian’s” opus of English and American authors who produced many hundreds of novels of thought and imagination of the era.    [Between …, p241-264.]

1933 ~ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: That Man in the White House  

CARTOON: FDR, 1932.  ‘Just leave ’em, Herb. I’ll do it all after March 4.’ Cartoon, 1932, by Clifford Berryman.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as the 32nd President of the United States. The country was reeling in the third year of the Great Depression.   after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Both the ensuing action and inaction of President Hoover continued to fuel the economic crisis and decline.  In the next four years, Roosevelt would begin rolling out massive economic relief legislation such as the Emergency Banking Relief Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Recovery Administration and the Social Security Act.

At the suggestion of Sara Delano Roosevelt, the President’s mother, Jo Davidson went to Washington, D.C. to meet the new President after he took office on March 4th.  On entering the White House, he could hear barking dogs and voices of children in the distance.  The atmosphere impressed him as a friendly, alive, gay and human.  

The President was rolled in and greeted Jo with a broad, cheerful smile.  Then shaking Jo’s hand said: 

FDR:  “I’ve just had a meeting with a delegation of plasterers who want to have the plasterers and their assistants share in the profits.  That will fix your business.”

JoD:  “I am not a plasterer, … I am a chiseler!”  

Thus cementing our friendship, we made arrangements to get to work.  [Between …, p275.]

That evening Jo stayed at the White House for a conversational dinner with 14 guests.  Afterward he remained alone with the President and reviewed an album of busts Jo had made.  The President asked innumerable questions about Jo’s sitters many of whom he knew.  Their lively exchange continued past midnight.

The next day Jo sculpted the President sitting at his desk.  People came and went from the office.  Jo rolled his stand around to observe from all angles. The President put visitors at ease with jovial comments and winning smile.  He continued to work that evening and the next morning even as he sat in bed looking over papers.  Jo observed,

“President Roosevelt won me completely with his charm, his beautiful voice and his freedom from constraint.  He had unshakable faith in man.  All those projects — NRA, CWA, PWA, — all stemmed from his belief that if you give man a chance, he will not let you down.”

Jo outside the White House with his newest friend.

Jo also observed that the President did not forget about the Artists in his relief bills and WPA projects.  He admired the Presidents sense of direction.  Being a sailor he knew that traveling in a straight line was seldom possible.  Keeping a clear objective while tacking on and off course would still get you to the goal. 

  FROM ‘BUST’ TO ICON    Jo would go on to make numerous busts of Roosevelt, big, small, some carved in stone.  I observed a casting of this bronze bust bearing the Jo Davidson signature on the back while visiting the Churchill Museum at Fulton College in Fulton, Missouri several summers ago.  Churchill made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech there after Roosevelt’s death and the victory of World War II.   How thought it fitting that the curators of the Churchill Museum  choose Jo Davidson’s bust of FDR to portray that “Friendship that Saved the World.” 

Churchill and his family were also White House guests, soaking up the warmth and charm of the “sitting” President as was Jo when he sculpted.  Perhaps that warmth explains the thousands of souvenir miniatures imitating the original that are still sold in the marketplace ninety years later.  Or maybe as one critic phrased it, “His ‘President Roosevelt’ looks the character that the whole world has readily acknowledged.”

 1934 ~ LOSS OF LOVE ~ LOSS OF DIRECTION ~ 

One day Jo walked by a paint shop and saw a miniature water color set in the window bought it.  Less than two inches square he admired it. Compact and complete, it went in his pocket and never left him.  

Yvonne had been in poor health for several years, but was anxious to visit California to see their old friends Lincoln Steffens and his wife, Ella Winter.  The couples had been constant companions in their early years in Paris visiting Bistros and discovering “special foods in the French manner.”  They boarded a train heading cross-country to California. On the train Jo sketch and water-colored his way West.

Arriving in San Francisco they were besieged by reporters: Jo was the sculptor of the President and Yvonne was a great dress designer from Paris.  They visited old haunts and old friends staying with the Steffens.  But Yvonne felt worse. A doctor was called and she was put on rest.  She rallied some, visited old friends, and they returned to New York.  Back home Yvonne Davidson suffered a stroke and died two days later.

New York Daily News. Sunday, May 13, 1934.

The loss of his love of twenty-five years devastated Jo, and he began a period of “Restless Days” as he titled that chapter in his autobiography.  Those “Days” would last for three years.  He left for Paris but could not focus to work.  Life felt empty and cold.  He returned to his Bécheron studio, but his heart was not in it.  Returning to Paris he sought to settle down with his grown sons but their lives were young and Jo’s was old.  Finally he returned to New York but without Yvonne, he found it just as lonely as Paris and Bécheron.  He felt deep loss of love and direction.  

“During these years my life was without an anchor.  I kept on traveling — London, New York, Washington, Paris, California, but I was too restless to stay anywhere for very long.  I was still looking for some project in which I could completely forget myself.

A quarter of a century earlier in his life, Jo was a wanderer — looking, searching, roving until he found “the sculptor within.”  But now with the loss of love, the loss of companionship, he struggled to find direction — a reason to work, a passion to give his hands to, a project to consume his active craving for carving art. 

 MORE DISAPPOINTMENTS  He received a letter from a friend asking if he would consider doing a statue of Thomas Paine to be placed in Paris.  Paine along with Walt Whitman were two early heroes in Jo’s personal pantheon.  After hopes and excitement from friends, he was flattened to learn that the committee his friend was on had already awarded the commission to Gutzum Borglum.  Dejected, he put his sketch of Thomas Paine in his studio drawer. 

To this regret was added a further blow.  Jo returned to Paris only to learn that his beloved friend, Lincoln Steffens, had died.  Steffens was a listener.  Jo didn’t have many.  For nearly two decades he valued that understanding ear.  This dear friend’s passing was a deep loss and only compounded the Restless Days with another layer of sorrow.

 1935 ~ A NATIONAL LOSS  ~  WILL ROGERS DIES 

On August 15, 1935, American humorist and “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son,” Will Rogers died with aviator Wiley Post  when their small plane crashed after take-off in Point Borrow, Alaska. The pair were on an around-the-globe flight.  In 1931 Post had become the first man to fly solo round-the-world.

Will Rogers had become an American Icon.  An actor on stage and films, a vaudeville performer, cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator; Will  was “a Cherokee citizen born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory.”  The warm humor of this home-spun figure won the hearts of Americans long before his sudden death at the height of the Great Depression.  His passing was a shocking sorrow in very trying times for the American public.

Jo Davidson had wanted to do a bust of Rogers but never had.  Betty, Will’s wife, had often urged him to pose for Jo.  Will would always decline jokingly calling Jo “old that headhunter” to the amusement of Jo and all nearby.  

Weeks later dining in New York with Sidney Kent of Fox Films, Jo shared his regret and the desire to immortalize Will Rogers.  Kent concurred, and agreed to lend Jo some of Will’s old movies to do the modeling work.   Jo received a letter from E. W. Marland, his old oil man friend from Ponca City, Oklahoma and the Pioneer Woman commission.  Marland was now Governor Marland.  Jo went of Oklahoma City, visited with the Governor and signed a contract to make the Will Rogers statue.

Returning to his Paris Studio the Fox Films crew set up a big projector and large screen and began running continuous movies of Will Rogers in the front studio while Jo worked in the back.  Friends gathered in this new Will Rogers “studio” for a week as Jo “worked, talked, and lived nothing but Will Rogers.  The films brought back so many memories.”  [Between …, p. 298.]

“Betty Rogers sent Wills clothes, his shirt, his tie and his shoes. … Then I had the model put on Will’s clothes.  They still contained his personality.  Clothes have a way of being impersonal until they are worn; then they become a part of the person who wore them — like a glove before and after wearing. [Between …, pp. 299-300.]

 

– Will Rogers – Keeping an eye on Congress… since June 6, 1939.

“Before his death, the state of Oklahoma commissioned a statue of Rogers, to be displayed as one of the two it has in the National Statuary Hall Collection of the United States Capitol. Rogers agreed on the condition that his image would be placed facing the House Chamber, supposedly so he could “keep an eye on Congress”. Of the statues in this part of the Capitol, the Rogers sculpture is the only one facing the Chamber entrance—a stakeout location for camera crews looking to catch House members during and after voting. It is also a common background for reporters and lawmakers, with staff often directing the media to be at the “Will Rogers stakeout” at a certain time. According to some Capitol guides, each US president rubs the left shoe of the Rogers statue for good luck before entering the House Chamber to give the State of the Union address.” [34]   [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers]

Claremore, Oklahoma — Will Rogers Museum – centerpiece

When the second statue was dedicated in the rotunda of the Will Rogers Museum in Claremont, Oklahoma. 20,000 people from all over came for the unveiling — Indians, cowboys, and other friends of Will’s.  A radio program was broadcast nation-wide and President Roosevelt spoke from Hyde Park.  He told the nation of listeners:

“There was something infectious about his humor.  His appeal went straight to the heart of the nation.  Above all things, in a time grown too solemn and sober, he brought his countrymen back to a sense of proportion “

When Will’s daughter Mary pulled the string unveiling the eight and a half foot statue, “there was a moment of hushed awe.  The light fell on the statue just right.  Mrs. Rogers, overcome, broke down and wept.”  [Between …, p. 300.] 

DC Capitol Assault? by “Trump-it-eers!” ~~ What Would Will Rogers Say about January 6, 2021 ?

 

 1939 ~ STARTING AGAIN ~ Walt Whitman walks the Woods 

One day Averell Harriman visited Jo in his Paris studio and admired his sketch for a Walt Whitman statue.  When Jo lamented that the NY Park Commission refused to place it in three different parks, Averell suggested a home for it in Bear Mountain Park.  He invited Jo to his home to view the park for possible sites.

The park had been part of the Harriman property in Arden, NY.  His mother had designated 10,000 acres adjoining Bear Mountain as a public park.  Averell wanted a statue of Whitman to commemorate his mother’s gift.  Jo’s idea of Whitman fit the family’s plans for a commemorative.

Jo returned to New York in the autumn visiting Harriman for the Thanksgiving holidays.  He had immersed himself in Walt Whitman and found that the poet had actually roamed through those same hills.  Jo tramped along the wooded Appalachian Trail finding a long graceful rock formation large enough to support a bronze statue.  He determined with enlarged photostats of his sketch that an eight and a half foot statue would command the rock face as a convincing figure to be found walking in the woods.

Jo Davidson worked off and on for several years on the Walt Whitman figure.  In 1939 it was cast and displayed at the New York World’s Fair before finding a final dedication and home on Bear Mountain.

 RECASTING:  Jo had had so many disappointments that never expected the statue to emerge beyond his sketch. But it did!  Matter of fact, in 1957, six years after Jo Davidson’s death, the Fairmont Park Art Association of Philadelphia placed another casting of the statue on Broad Street near the entrance to the Walt Whitman Bridge.  

Davidson described his satisfaction in this period of his life in these words:

“THERE IS NO GREATER HAPPINESS THAN WORKING ON SOMETHING THAT ONE VERY MUCH WANTS  TO DO.”

 


 THE ‘WORK OF ART’ ~ the RECOVERING THE PASSION

The passion of Jo Davidson’s life was  sculpting.   One day when he and his friend six-foot-three friend, Charlie, (Charles W. Ervin) with a “booming voice” were in the Jo’s studio having lunch:

“I got an itch to do a bust of that booming voice.  The bust seemed to do itself I think that André Gide’s definition of a work of art applied in this case: “A collaboration between the subconscious, which is God’s part, and the artist; and the less the artist interferes, the greater the work of art.”  This has happened to me several times in my life as a sculptor.  … if I can hear the sitter’s voice, I know that the bust is good.  

Jo had a very spacious studio in the Beaux Arts building.  He he was happy there especially as people could and would drop by; he needed people around.  It was a busy studio where Jo completed one sitting with another.  Among others he did:

David Sarnoff – President of National Broadcasting Company who championed the development of broadcast communications in radio and television.

Edward MacCarten – Sculptor and Jo’s old friend from Art Students League and another of Hermon MacNeil’s student who gave him the following advise:“One day he said, “Jo, here’s an idea. When you come here tomorrow go to work as if this is your last day on earth and you have to finish your statue before you die.” This struck home. The next day I went to work with new energy.  I didn’t die that night, nor did I finish the “David” that day. But as I look back, MacCarten’s advise was one of the greatest contributions that I ever received from a fellow artist.”

They met up again when Jo came to Paris to study Beaux Arts with  no Scholarship, no support, and $40 in his pocket during Jo’s adventuring and searching years. 

Sinclair Lewis – American writer and playwright.  First writer from the United States  to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature

A BRIEF REPRISE of old love ~~ One day into that busy studio walked another former sculptor from days at the Art Student League:

“When I finished (Sinclair) Lewis’ bust, Florence Lucius was in my studio and we were talking about portraiture.  She reminded me of John Sargent’s definition of a portrait, ‘a picture of somebody with something the matter with the mouth.’  Some ten minutes later Dorothy Thompson came in to look at her husband’s bust.  She gave one glance, turned to me and said, “It’s very good but there is something the matter with the mouth.'”   [Between …, p303.]

A passing moment of shared irony ?  …

with a  briefly re-discovered old friend ?  …

but MAYBE it was more…  ?   ?    ?

MORE PLASTIC HISTORY – THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR   In the summer and fall of 1938 modeled portraits of Spanish Loyalists of the Civil War.  The results were exhibited in the Arden Gallery in New York City and published as: Jo Davidson: Spanish Portraits. New York: The Georgian Press, Inc., 1938.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 FLORENCE “Flossie” LUCIUS  ~ OLD LOVE REKINDLES 

After many years of rumblings, World War II began 1939.   Jo turned over his farm and home in Bécheron to the Vichy government to house various attachés.  So in 1940 he returned to the United States.  Jo states that he “was still at loose ends, restless and haunted by a vague sense of dissatisfaction.  There was no real reason for this complicated business of living”  Jo’s passion for sculpting was interrupted.

Into Jo Davidson’s global and personal malaise walked an old flame he had fallen hard for three decades earlier — “Flossie” Florence Lucius

“Then one day, I found my old love of the Art Students League days, Florence Lucius.  I hadn’t seen her for several years.  … With Flossie around, life began to take on a new meaning and the studio began bubbling with life and buzzing with people.

Jo and Flossie visited friends in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and while driving around Jo saw a farm for sale that reminded him of Bécheron.  Jo asked his architect friend Burral Hoffman to look it over as a possible home and studio.  

HEART CRISIS !   Although Jo had rediscovered the love of his young heart, at fifty-seven years his own heart was showing signs of hard-working wear.  Out at dinner with friends … I felt an excruciating pain in my left arm, and the next day, I was in the hospital with a heart attack.  I spent six weeks in the hospital.”

Burrell Hoffman came to see him with the proposal of sketches showing how the barn of the Bucks County farm could be converted into a wonderful studio space.  Jo was delighted with the plans and future studio, his American Bécheron.  At discharge the doctor ordered complete rest and no worries so Jo and Florence went to the Virgin Islands staying for two blissful months. Until one evening a Jimmy Sheean, (a fresh-faced and insolent radio announcer who brought home the war to American listeners) began “reporting the bombing of a Red Cross train in France by the Germans.  Other voices told of roads filled with refugees.  In the peace and quiet of this beautiful night in St. Thomas the news was appalling.  I packed my bags and returned to New York.”

The words “roads filled with refugees” had to trigger Jo’s memories of similar scenes he witnessed in 1914 while covering WW I first-hand from Belgium.  He went from “refugee stories” to his new American Bécheron in Bucks County.  The new studio and home now renamed “Stone Court Farm” was now ready for the new couple.

SCULPTING AGAIN ~ Roosevelt’s 3rd

Characteristically, Jo very quickly got his first sculpting job.  In a phone call he was asked to do the third inaugural medal for President Roosevelt  This was a rush job with just days to complete.   Sent a photograph to work from, Jo became frustrated.  Jo sculpted from life not antique photographs.  He just couldn’t properly do a bas-relief this way.  So, he made his own phone call, flew to Washington and the 32nd President posed for two sittings.  Rush mission accomplished!

SOUTH AMERICAN JOURNEY ~ Good Will Ambassador

Florence Lucius Davidson

On evening visiting with friends Jo met John Abbott who worked for Nelson Rockefeller, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.   The agency’s mission was to promote inter-American cooperation (Pan-Americanism) especially in commercial, cultural and economic areas thus strengthening U. S. ties with South American Nations.  The idea was conceived that night for Jo to travel as a Good Will Ambassador making busts of Presidents of South American Republics. The idea quickly became an official mission to create busts of ten presidents.

Needing an Assistant, Jo turned to Flossie, a sculptor herself.  Jo also wanted her to marry him which they did after arriving in Venezuela.  They had known each other since days as art students.  It had been puppy love back then now both those old feelings came right back and their need for each other at this point in life’s journey brought a new sense of happiness that they both needed and deserved.  So now Florence Lucius became Florence Lucius Davidson, and Jo added another portrait bust to his growing collection.  

On the six month mission to South America, Jo had to travel by flying. “From country to country — Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, and others — he flew, modeling the presidents he met in clay, casting them in bronze on his return to the United States.  There, they were exhibited in the National Gallery of Arts in Washington.  Later, they were given to the various countries as a gift from the United States.” 5.

Writing to Flossie about Jo, Van Wyck Brooks once stated, He’s an entire United Nations in his own way.”  On this Good Will Ambassador tour that could not have been more true.

Back home again.  There soon followed portrait busts of Henry Wallace, Vice President of the United States; Ernie Pyle, reporter and war correspondent; Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, and Van Wyck Brooks, biographer, literary critic, and historian.

 THIRTY YEARS AND HUNDREDS OF SCULPTURES 

In the thirty years (1920-1949) Jo Davidson would go on to travel the world making hundreds of portrait busts and figures.  Some on commission, but many just because he was asked or he just wanted to.  Looking around his studio one day, He said he realized that he was the World’s Largest Collector of “Jo Davidson” busts.

Jo Davidson with Busts of 8 Presidents that he completed.

Jo continued his constant pace of sittings for portrait bust —  just a few of those “sitters” included:

Clarence Darrow 1929, Charlie Chaplin 1925, Lincoln Steffens 1920, Robert M. La Follette 1923, W. Averell Harriman 1935, Franklin Roosevelt 1933, 1951, Fiorello LaGuardia (1934), Andrew Mellon (1927), Andrew Furuseth (1929) Mother Jones (1922), Carl Sandburg 1931, Ignace Paderewski (1920), Will Rogers (1935-38), Mahatma Gandhi (1931), Albert Einstein (1934). Arthur Conan Doyle, Israel Zangwill, Albert Einstein 1937, Emma Goldman, Frank Harris, Hellen Keller 1942, John D. Rockefeller 1924, Dolores Ibárruri, Franklin Roosevelt 1934, 1951, Henry A. Wallace, Walt Whitman, , Dwight D. Eisenhower 1948,  H. G. Wells, Gertrude Stein 1923, Josip Tito, Carl Sandburg 1939, Edward Willis Scripps 1922, George Bernard Shaw 1931,  Mahatma Gandhi, James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Henry LuceJames Barrie, Joseph Conrad, Charles G. Dawes, Will Rogers 1935-38, Anatole France, André Gide, Robinson Jeffers 1930, John Marin and Ida Rubinstein.  1

That tactile process of wordless communication accelerated “the portrait sculptor within.” And his fame kept preceding him as he assembled a PLASTIC HISTORY OF HIS TIMES

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jo Davidson as AMATEUR POLITICIAN 

~ ROOTING FOR ROOSEVELT ~

Jo Davidson ~ Political Sculptor

TIME Sept. 9, 1946. Jo Davidson Featured

TIME Sept. 9, 1946. Jo Davidson Featured

TIME magazine put Jo Davidson’s face on the cover in September, 1946.  The cover lampoon and story inside form a satirical and rather pejorative piece about Jo’s later activities in the political spotlight after FDR’s death in April 1945. 

The cover featured a cartoon figure speaking words “Vote For…” into a microphone.  The figure was a collage of a palette board face, a violin torso, paint brush legs, sculptors tools arms, standing on three books and a soap-box. 

Jo was famous, loved people, circulated in an extensive network of the wealthy and famous including Hollywood. Davidson had become a political activist and was reluctantly elected chairman of the Independent Citizens Committee of Artists, Scientists, and Professionals (ICCASP), a group that supported the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt but now FDR was gone.

Originally formed as the Independent Voters Committee of the Arts and Sciences for Roosevelt, its organizational meeting was held in Jo’s studio (the only room big enough to hold a crowd).  Jo was elected chairman because he was the host that everybody knew.  This progressive collage included Actors, Musicians, Entertainers, Authors, Poets, Artists, Painters, Political activists, Scientists.  Their mission was to illuminate the 1944 re-election campaign of President Roosevelt by shining the star-power this distinguished collection of public faces and names behind an ongoing Roosevelt agenda.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (L), talking to the Independent Voters Committee (L to R) Van Wyck Brooks, Hanna Dornen, Jo Davidson, Jan Jiepung, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Gish, Dir. Harlow Shapely and James Proctor. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Jo reports that when the group went to call on the President, he jokingly asked Jo, have they called you a Communist yet?” They hadn’t, but Jo didn’t have long to wait. The TIME story suggests that the group had picked up a few Communists, like the fleas on a dog.  Jo Davidson suggested to the reporter that “its Communists have no more to do with its course that fleas do with a dog’s.”   To the question of Communist influence, Jo Davidson replied: “Have you stopped beating your wife.”

After Roosevelt’s death and President Harry Truman succeeding him into the office, the group had to refocus in Post World War II America.  An opponent of the Cold War policies of Harry S. Truman, he joined the Progressive Citizens of America (PCA). Other members included Rexford Tugwell, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, Hellen Keller, Thomas Mann, Aaron Copland, Claude Pepper, Eugene O’Neill, Glen H. Taylor, John Abt, Edna Ferber, Thornton Wilder, Carl Van Doren, Fredric March and Gene Kelly.

Davidson supported Henry A. Wallace in the 1948 Presidential Election. Wallace’s running-mate was Glen H. Taylor, the left-wing senator for Idaho. A group of conservatives, including Henry Luce, Clare Booth Luce, Adolf Berle, Lawrence Spivak and Hans von Kaltenborn, sent a cable to Ernest Bevin, the British foreign secretary, that the PCA were only “a small minority of Communists, fellow-travelers and what we call here totalitarian liberals.” Winston Churchill agreed and described Wallace and his followers as “crypto-Communists”.

   ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

“No one ever met Jo and then forgot him. Wherever he was, his vibrant personality pervaded. He was tremendously gifted for the work he did. He was intelligent, incisive, witty, a marvelous raconteur. His enthusiasm was endless. He hated everything mean or intolerant.”
– Harry Rosin –  Bucks County Sculptor and neighbor         https://bucksco.michenerartmuseum.org/artists/jo-davidson

   ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

 


Jo Davidson Sculptures [partial list of hotlinks]:

 

SOURCES for Davidson material:

  1. Spartacus Educational: Jo Davidson.   © John Simkin, May 2013.  FOUND AT: https://spartacus-educational.com/Ajo_davidson.htm
  2. TIME, “Political Notes: Glamor Pusses.” VOL. XLVIII, No. 11, September 9, 1946. pp. 23-25.
  3. Connor, Janis and Joel Rosenkranz, photographs by David Finn, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893 – 1939, University of Texas Press, Austin TX 1989.
  4. Jo Davidson. Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography of Jo Davidson, New York: Dial Press, 1951.
  5. Lois Harris Kuhn. The World of Jo Davidson, New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudhay, 1958.  p. 153.

 


 

  1.  HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL 
  2. ~ ~ More Monuments ~ 1930 ~ 1940 ~ ~

1930 ~ “The Pilgrim Memorial” ~ Waterbury, CT

ABOUT THE PIONEER MEMORIAL

“The Harrub Pilgrim Memorial was carved out of French granite by Hermon Atkins MacNeil of New York. Charles Harrub, an engineer for the American Brass Company, donated the $100,000 needed for the project to honor his wife and the Pilgrims. Dedicated October 11, 1930. It is now located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Chase Parkway. (Photo by Daniel M. Lynch, Mattatuck Consulting, LLC.” 

This website of tells the history of settling Waterbury CT from 1657 to the American Revolution.  Descendants of early settlers give family genealogy and memorable stories. Source: OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the RIVER-HOPKINS and SAEMANN-NICKEL and Related Families

A second history blog of Waterbury offers additional photos and history of the memorial.  Here’s a photo from dedication day.

“Sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil was commissioned to create the monument. Based in New York City, MacNeil is remembered for having designed the 1917 quarter, as well as for a series of sculptures depicting Native Americans in classically heroic poses.

The Harrub Memorial was completed in 1930 and unveiled at a ceremony held on October 11, 1930. Although it is now located at the top of Chase Park, off Highland Avenue, the monument was originally placed at the bottom of the hill, facing Freight Street.”

 

1930 ~ Judge Thomas Burke Memorial

In Seattle, Washington the Memorial to Judge Thomas Burke exhibits MacNeil’s classic Beaux Arts design and allegorical figures.  Beneath the bronze bas relief of  Burke’s profile, the engraved stone pilaster  reads:  “Patriot, Jurist, Friend, Patron of Education, First of every movement for the advancement of the city and the state, Seattle’s foremost and best beloved Citizen.”

“Burke came to Seattle in 1875 and formed a law partnership with John J. McGilvra; he soon married McGilvra’s daughter Caroline.[2] He established himself as a civic activist: one of his first projects was to raise funds for a planked walkway from roughly the corner of First and Pike (now site of Pike Place Market) through Belltown to Lake Union.[7]

Cartoon of Thomas Burke, railroad man

He served as probate judge 1876-1880[8] and as chief justice of the Washington Territorial Supreme Court in 1888.[3]

“Irish as a clay pipe,”[9] and well liked by early Seattle’s largely Irish working class, as a lawyer Burke was well known for collecting large fees from his wealthy clients and providing free legal services for the poor.  [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

 

1931 ~ President James Monroe bust

Monroe-HAM-1931HOF_NYU

US President James Monroe

Exactly 100 years after James Monroes death (b. April 28, 1758 – d.July 4, 1831), Hermon MacNeil completed a bronze bust of this U.S. President.  It was MacNeil’s fourth statue of a US President. (Washington 1916, Lincoln 1928, McKinley 1906

 

This bronze bust by Hermon MacNeil resides in the Hall of Fame of Great Americans on the campus of Bronx Community College (formerly NYU). The aging memorial of over 100 busts was designed by Stanford White, famous “Beaux Arts” architect of New York City. 

Monroe was the fifth President of the United States (1817–1825).  He was the last president from the group known as the Founding Fathers.  Monroe was also the last President from the Virginia dynasty.  In 1936 MacNeil would sculpt one other Virginian from the Revolutionary era — “George Rogers Clark” (National Monument in Vincennes, Indiana site of the Clark’s Revolutionary victory at Fort Sackville).

CHECK OUT THESE LINKS ALSO:

  1. Hall of Fame:  MacNeil has Four busts enshrined there.
  2. MORE: on Monroe

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

1931 ~ HOPI ~~ PRAYER FOR RAIN  ~~ Issue #3

When Hermon MacNeil was asked to make the Third Issue of the new Society of Medalists Series, He chose to revert to his early experiences of 1895 of Native American in the Arizona and New Mexico territory.

 


 

1932 CONFEDERATE DEFENDERS 

~~ Charleston, SC ~~ Ft Sumter Harbor ~~

Grafetti after shooting at Mother Emmanuel Church Charleston 2015

The “Confederate Defenders” designed and sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil was selected by a committee of Charlestonians from over a dozen proposals of other sculptors. 

Unlike many monuments featuring soldiers, cannons arms, horsed and battles raging, MacNeil’s concept was different.

I like to think that the committee awarded the commission for this design because of its classical Beaux Arts treatment of allegorical symbolism.  In MacNeil communicated — Youth, Athleticism, defense, the shield bearing the Seal of South Carolina, The Athena Goddess of Charleston.

In the 21 Century the Monument has become a “protest site” after shootings in 2015 at a Bible study at Mother Emanuel Church a few blocks north. 

More recently opposing groups such as:  Black Lives Matter and  Flags Across the South. Have protested on the site.

Both groups gathered. Black Lives Matter marchers held their signs along The Battery wall. Across the street at the Confederate Defenders Monument, members of  as Charleston Police stood watch.

Eventually the City Council worked out a compromise schedule of rotating permits for the plaza of the statue area

 

 

1932 U.S. Supreme Court  Building ~ East Pediment

Moses ~ Confucius ~  Salon

 

General Alfred Howe Terry

General John Sedgwick

  1934 ~ Alfred H. Terry ~ Connecticut Capitol Building 

Location:  south elevation.   Artist: Hermon MacNeil.

1934 ~ John Sedgwick ~ Connecticut Capitol Building

Location:  south elevation.   Artist: Hermon MacNeil.

 

 

1936 ~ George Rogers Clark Memorial ~ Hero of the American Revolution

Clark National Monument where MacNeil’s George R. Clark is housed

MacNeil’s Statue of George Rogers Clark is inside the circular dome of the Monument in Vincennes, IN.  CLICK HERE for More

CLICK HERE for the National Park Service’s story of this National Monument (CLICK) 

This beautifully restored dome on the prairie contains Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s heroic statue of George Rogers Clark, a Virginian who saw the importance of the West in the war effort as a whole. He persuaded Virginia’s government (and Governor Thomas Jefferson) to support his efforts; then with 200 men, he crossed the Ohio River to the Mississippi River taking Kaskaskia and Cahokia, and returning to capture Fort Sackville at Vincennes.

The following video by RATIO Architects shows the reconstruction and restoration of The George Rogers Clark Memorial roof and foundations in 2005 after decades of leakage, erosion, corrosion, stalactite formation and water damage to the steps and walkways. (length 6:24 min; Source RATIO Architects )

Thanks RATIO for restoring  this monument of American history and giving us this documentation. Dan Leininger, webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com

Treaty of Paris, by Benjamin West (1783), depicts the United States delegation at the Treaty of Paris (left to right): John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.

The George Rogers Clark Memorial is on the sight of the British Fort Sackville of 1779. Clark and his 170 frontier men demanded surrender from  British Lt., Governor Henry Hamilton by surprise and deception on Feb 25, 1779. They marshaled troops waving flags and firing rapidly as if they were a larger army.  Clark’s strategies and victories in the West marked the beginning of the end of British domination in America’s western frontier and by the Treaty of Paris (1783) extended the 13 colonies westward to the Mississippi River. 

Re-enactment of Fort Sackville surrender

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1940 ~ The Pony Express ~ Saint Joseph, MO

Follow the setting Sun

The Legend of the Pony Express is larger than life.  The images of riders carrying pouches (mochilas) of mail from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, (a 1900 mile route) through 186 Pony Express Stations along the route about 10 miles apart. Riders had to take an oath, must weigh less than 125 pounds, riding both day and night through sun and rain. Riders changed every 75 -100 miles or doubling that in emergencies from April 1860 to September 1961 before the transcontinental telegraph was completed.  

The legend of Hermon MacNeil’s Pony Express statue is told here on 5 different stories linked on this single thread searched with “Pony Express”.  (including Poncho Villa) MacNeil’s legendary statue includes:

  • a black mounted action figure heading West with hair and bandana streaming,
  • Four mochilas (pouches) for mail,
  • a pistol on his hip,
  • a Sun carved on the south side of the base symbolizing daytime and the Moon on the north side for night.
  • The legend of “Poncho Villa” the wild Dakota range horse that MacNeil modeled for the muscular steed running to the sun.

Poncho Villa was an ‘outlaw’ horse tamed by Dr. S. Meredith Strong, a physician and horse lover who was the National President of the American Rough Riders Association, a group devoted to the preservation of the wild mustangs. He traveled thousands of miles as a lover-of-horse-flesh seeking to preserve this western heritage. He and MacNeil must have had some interesting conversations.  (The newspaper photo shows Hermon MacNeil seated on the statue).

Neither rain, sleet, snow or dark of night shall keep the rider from his appointed journey.  Burr!

HOTLINKS TO 1930-1940 Statues and Monuments by Hermon A. MacNeil

 

 

Categories : Location
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2019 Minting of MacNeil’s first design of SLQ – OBVERSE (Photo Credit The Louisville Numismatic Exchange, Inc.)

Hermon MacNeil’s first concept for the new Liberty Standing Quarter dollar looked a good bit different than what we are familiar with. 

A recent minting of his first design has come onto the silver coin market.  It bears some surprises.

The late Jay Cline spent an entire lifetime and career dealing Standing Liberty Quarters.  In his book, Cline introduces the coin with the following words:

THE YEAR 1915

At the request of President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, the coinage of the U.S. in 1915 was about to change. For the first time in history the quarter would be different from the dime and the half-dollar.

There were three new coins to make their debut in 1916. The new winged Mercury dime, the Walking Liberty Half — these two having been designed by A. Weinman — and the Standing Liberty quarter designed by Hermon A. MacNeil.  A renaissance of interest in United States silver coins was beginning

WEBMASTER photo of 2019 Minting of MacNeil’s first design of SLQ – Reverse (Coin purchased from The Louisville Numismatic Exchange, Inc.)

WEBMASTER photo of 2019 Minting of MacNeil’s first design of SLQ – OBVERSE (Coin purchased from The Louisville Numismatic Exchange, Inc.)

2019 Minting of MacNeil’s first design of SLQ – REVERSE (Photo Credit The Louisville Numismatic Exchange, Inc.)

For over a century the Standing Liberty Quarter has remained a collectible issue of Teddy Roosevelt’s Renaissance of American Coinage

The following article by Tom LaMarre in Coin Magazine summarizes the polulafrity of this Lady Liberty by Mr MacNeil:

MacNeil’s Standing Liberty Remains a Favorite

By Tom LaMarre, Coins Magazine
September 30, 2009

Hermon A. MacNeil created some memorable works, including the statues “The Sun Vow” and “Pony Express.” But coin collectors consider his real masterpiece to be the Standing Liberty quarter.

Rich in symbolism and finely engraved detail, the new quarter reflected the spirit of peace and preparedness just before the United States entered World War I. It also revived a classical style in sharp contrast to the abstract and modern trends that were sweeping the art world at that time.

In addition, the coin signified a different direction for its designer. MacNeil was known mainly for works depicting American Indians and Western pioneers.

Production of Standing Liberty quarters began in 1916. Despite the artistic merit of the design, its life was cut short after only 14 years (none were struck in 1922). Because of wearability and striking problems, and the decision to issue a George Washington commemorative, the last Standing Liberty quarter was minted in 1930.

The series was short, but it produced some memorable rarities, including the 1916 and 1918/7-S Standing Liberty quarters. Almost as interesting as the coins themselves is the story of how they came into existence and inspired a greater awareness of artistic values in the world of coins.

The $2,300 Design

The Barber quarter had been around since 1892, and although it did the job, no one was thrilled with the design. In December 1915, a competition was held to come up with new designs for the dime, quarter and half dollar. MacNeil, Adolph Weinman and Albin Polasek were invited to submit entries.

Each sculptor was promised $300. An additional $2,000 would go to the creator of each model that was accepted for production. The deadline for entries was April 16, 1916.

Polasek was the only loser. Weinman’s entries were selected for the dime and half dollar. MacNeil’s design was chosen for the quarter.

MacNeil reportedly found a rooftop studio in the heart of New York City. There, according to a contemporary account, he could work on his coinage design “high above the dirt and noise of the street.”

MacNeil decided to place a standing Liberty figure on the obverse of the quarter. Initially there was a dolphin on each side of the pedestal below Liberty, representing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Panama Canal had recently opened, and even though the canal had inspired its own commemorative coins in 1915, MacNeil apparently thought a further tribute would be appropriate on the new quarter.

A bronze cast of the obverse with dolphins still exists. Originally intended for the preparation of dies, it turned up at a garage sale in 2001.

MacNeil eventually changed his mind about the dolphins. After the deadline for entries had passed, he requested and received permission to make some changes to the design during the next few weeks. The dolphins, which had been ridiculed by Mint workers, were nowhere to be seen on the revised obverse that appeared on production quarters.

On the reverse of the quarter, MacNeil depicted a low-flying eagle flanked by 13 stars.

The winning entries in the coin design competition were unveiled on May 30, 1916. At that time a press dispatch said that Treasury Secretary William MacAdoo, Mint Director Robert W. Woolley and the Commission of Fine Arts had found them to be “most satisfactory from an artistic point of view.”

Hermon Atkins MacNeil

Mint Director Robert W. Woolley was so involved overseeing the preparation of the quarter design at the Mint that the Gettysburg Times predicted it would be known as the “Woolley quarter” or simply the “Woolley.” In reality, the designer was Hermon Atkins MacNeil, described by The Iowa Recorder as a “sculptor of prominence.”

“The designer of the new quarter is Hermon A. MacNeil, N.A.,” the June 8, 1916, issue of Cornell Magazine, published by Cornell University, reported. “Mr. MacNeil was commissioned recently to execute the statue of Ezra Cornell which is to be unveiled by the University in 1918. He is the sculptor of the memorial bust of Robert Henry Thurston in Sibley College.”

Cornell had reason to be proud of MacNeil. He had taught there, and at the Chicago Art Institute.

MacNeil was born in Massachusetts in 1866. He graduated from the Normal Art School in Boston and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Julian Academy. By the turn of the century, he had returned to the United States and opened his own studio.

MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” was displayed at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition and won a silver medal. It was made at the American Academy in Rome and cast in bronze in Paris. Today it is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

MacNeil designed an award medal for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. It was presented to Victor D. Brenner, who later designed the Lincoln cent. MacNeil also designed a 1926 medal commemorating the tercentenary of the purchase of Manhattan.

For the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, MacNeil created the “Fountain of Liberty.” Other works by the sculptor include “The Moqui Runner,” “A Primitive Chant,” “The Coming of the White Man,” the McKinley Memorial in Columbus and the Marquette Memorial in Chicago.

MacNeil’s work was included in an exhibition held in conjunction with the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, and at a show staged in 1936 in New York City under a Works Progress Administration banner. The WPA was a Depression-era agency that provided employment on federal projects. Many artists and sculptors were commissioned to paint murals or create sculptures for post offices and other government buildings.

MacNeil died in his home on Long Island Sound in 1947. It had been 17 years since the last Standing Liberty quarter was struck. One of MacNeil’s last works was the statue “The Pony Express,” dedicated in 1940 in St. Joseph, Mo.

On the 100th anniversary of MacNeil’s birth, Hermon MacNeil Park was dedicated in College Point, Queens, N.Y. The guest of honor was the woman believed to be the model for the Standing Liberty quarter.

Doris Doscher

She was an actress who starred in “The Birth of a Race” (sometimes shown with the alternate title “The Story of a Great Peace”) in 1918. But when she appeared on the television program “I’ve Got a Secret” in April 1966, her secret was that she was the model for Liberty on the Standing Liberty quarter.

Time magazine also credited Doscher as the model for the coin at the time of her death in March 1970.

Doscher, sometimes going by the name Doris Doree, starred in several silent films. “The Birth of a Race” is the story of two brothers in a German-American family during World War I. One fights for the United States, and the other for Germany. Doscher played Eve, the wife of one of the brothers.

Doscher was also a professional model. She was the model for the “Pulitzer Fountain of Abundance” by Karl Bitter, completed by Isadore Konti and Karl Gruppe in 1915. The fountain represents Pomona, the Roman goddess of orchards, and stands in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Doscher also modeled for “Faith, Hope and Charity,” “Diana of the Chase,” “Memory,” “Kneeling Madonna” and Hermon MacNeil’s “The Angel of Peace.”

Possibly the earliest published reference to Doscher as MacNeil’s model for Liberty on the quarter was an item in the April 8, 1917, issue of The Syracuse Herald.

Doris married Dr. William Baum. She had a radio show on health and beauty and wrote a newspaper column, and she was a guest of honor at the dedication of Hermon MacNeil park.

Doris Doscher Baum, however, was not the only woman to claim the honor of being the model for the Standing Liberty quarter.

Irene MacDowell

Long after MacNeil died, a former Broadway actress and professional model, Irene MacDowell, claimed that she was the model for the Standing Liberty quarter. MacDowell was the wife of MacNeil’s tennis partner. For the sake of everyone concerned, it was thought best to keep her role as model a secret and let Doscher take the credit.

Irene broke the silence in 1972, at the age of 92, recalling that she posed for MacNeil for 10 days, wearing a white, sheet-like drapery that she described as “a kind of classical robe.”

MacDowell was described as statuesque and “handsome.” She frequently posed for MacNeil and reportedly was a model for some of the figures on the “Soldiers and Sailors Monument” in Albany, N.Y.

Patterns

Except for the matter of the dolphins, MacNeil had the quarter dollar design nailed down almost from the beginning. Patterns showing the development of the design are rare. One pattern is nearly the same as the Standing Liberty quarter as issued but lacks MacNeil’s initial on the obverse.

Another pattern has a reverse without stars, the eagle is flying higher and there are laurel branches at the sides. Examples exist with and without the designer’s initial.

Pattern 1916 Standing Liberty quarters are rarer than Walking Liberty half dollar and Mercury dime patterns. In the 1930s, a few 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar patterns were found in circulation. A 1916 Mercury dime pattern was discovered in pocket change in the early 1960s. In the case of the Standing Liberty quarter, however, no such circulation finds have been reported.

1916

The design process was so involved and took so long that you might say Liberty had to crawl before she could stand up and walk. The Standing Liberty quarter was scheduled to be released on July 1, 1916. A New York Times story with a July 2, 1916, dateline jumped the gun and claimed the coin made its debut as planned. In reality, however, the Mint was having trouble preparing the design for production, and another six months would pass before the Standing Liberty quarter went into circulation.

In September 1916, Albert Norris, chief clerk of the Philadelphia Mint, explained that die-makers usually had trouble when designs were prepared by artists who were not familiar with the mechanical requirements of coin production. The problem with the Standing Liberty quarter was that the relief was too high for the design to strike up properly.

Production of Standing Liberty quarters did not begin until Dec. 16, 1916 and was limited to the Philadelphia Mint in the first year of the design. By Dec. 31, 1916, only 52,000 had been struck. They were released in early January 1917.

Soon Philadelphia coin dealer Henry Chapman was offering 1916 Standing Liberty quarters for a dollar apiece. Speculation was widespread, and the Treasury Department responded with a January 1917 release of the mintage figure (incorrectly stated as 62,000 instead of 52,000). A press dispatch said the statement was being issued “to correct any impression that the coins are rare” and to thwart the “sharpers.”

An original roll of 1916 Standing Liberty quarters was available as late as the 1950s. Today it’s a different story. A Mint State-60 example is valued at $16,500.

Peace and Preparedness

Possibly more than any other coin, the Standing Liberty quarter succeeded in capturing the spirit of its time. With World War I raging in Europe and a presidential election campaign stirring things up at home, themes of peace and preparedness were on everyone’s mind.

According to the official description of the Standing Liberty quarter, the design was “intended to typify in a measure the awakening interest of the country to its own protection.” Liberty was depicted stepping forward to the gateway of the country. In her raised left arm was a shield from which the covering was being drawn, symbolizing the nation’s readiness to defend itself. In her right hand was an olive branch representing the desire for peace.

As the New York Times put it, the new quarter symbolized “America Awake.” Another writer, however, saw in the design “some too darkly veiled allegory of the Woman’s Party and the suffrage movement.”

The Standing Liberty quarter had a sculptural quality that set it apart from all previous quarter dollars. The Numismatist described it as “strikingly beautiful.” The New York Times called it a “silvern beauty.”

The Mansfield (Ohio) News said the Standing Liberty quarter was “fair to look upon,” but claimed the design should have been used on a medal instead of a coin, which it described as a “dirt collector.”

Changes

Legend has it that there was a public outcry against Liberty’s exposed right breast on the Standing Liberty quarter. But if this were the case, it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned in newspapers of the day.

MacNeil himself was dissatisfied with the original design and told a friend he was making a stand for changes. Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo and Rep. William Ashbrook of Ohio, who also happened to be a member of the American Numismatic Association, lobbied for the passage of legislation. Public Law 27 of July 9, 1917, made the changes to the Standing Liberty quarter official.

In addition to adding a covering of mail to Liberty, what was perceived to be her “bowlegged” appearance was eliminated, her head was lowered, the covering of the shield was pulled tighter, and the border was made less ornate.

On the reverse, the eagle was repositioned so that it was flying higher, and the arrangement of stars was changed, with three stars placed below the eagle.

Two bronze casts of the revised reverse were made. One of them, which surfaced several years ago, may have been kept by MacNeil as a back-up. The other bronze cast, measuring more than six inches in diameter, is in the Smithsonian.

McAdoo approved the revised Standing Liberty quarter design on Aug. 19, 1917. A prominent numismatist, Farran Zerbe, reported that the eagle was higher on the modified design, the features of the Liberty head were stronger, and Liberty’s “undraped bust” had been given a “corsage of mail.”

Collectors classify Standing Liberty quarters of the original design as Variety 1, and the revised version as Variety 2.

A Valuable Mistake

The Philadelphia Mint was a busy place in the autumn of 1917. Workers were making dies for 1917-dated coins to keep up with heavy demand. At the same time, they were preparing 1918-dated dies for the coming year.

Each die required several blows from a hub. By mistake, an obverse quarter dollar die received an impression from a 1917 hub and was sent to the annealing room to be hardened. When it was returned to the die room for additional impressions, it went to the wrong machine and was stamped with a 1918-dated hub. The finished die somehow slipped by the inspector and was sent to the San Francisco Mint, where it was used to strike a small number of 1918/7-S quarters.

The first example of the overdate wasn’t reported until the 1930s. At first, collectors thought it was the result of wartime cost-cutting at the Mint and that a 1917 die had been restamped with an “8” so it could be used another year.

Most of the rare quarters had seen years of use before the variety was publicized. As a result, mint-state examples of the 1918/7-S are rare.

Protecting the Date

Early Standing Liberty quarters are harder to find than later issues because the date, often weakly struck to begin with, quickly wore away in circulation. In 1925 a depression was made in Liberty’s pedestal to protect the date from friction. The revision was not entirely successful, but occasional Standing Liberty quarters with the date still visible could be found in pocket change as late as the mid-1960s.

Bad Luck

In its own time, the Standing Liberty quarter was considered an unlucky coin. There are 13 stars at the sides of the gateway through which Liberty is passing, 13 stars around the border on the reverse side of the coin, 13 letters in the inscription “QUARTER DOLLAR” and 13 letters in “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”

A Wading Bird

An early newspaper item really stretched things when it said the eagle on the reverse of the Standing Liberty quarter was the same as on the Great Seal, but without the shield. The writer might just as well have said that Liberty was the same as on the Barber quarter, but she was shown standing.

The truth was that the eagle on the Standing Liberty quarter was unlike the bird on any other U.S. coin, and that difference caused some problems.

In 1928, a letter to the editor of the New York Times claimed the eagle on the quarter had the feet of a wading bird and was depicted in the act of taking off instead of in full flight. To put it bluntly, the eagle had the feet of a duck.

MacNeil was not amused. He responded with a letter defending the design, but it didn’t make much difference. Because of other factors, the Standing Liberty quarter would only be struck two more years.

Mystery of the 1931 Quarter

Quarters were struck only at the Philadelphia and San Francisco mints in 1930. No quarters were struck for circulation in 1931, a Depression year. But counterfeits may exist.

In August 1931, Secret Service agents smashed a counterfeiting ring that had been making and passing fake quarters in Pennsylvania towns for eight months. They were cast from molds in the basement of the home of Anna Kasemar and her teenage daughter Margaret.

The same year, two men were sent to the Atlanta penitentiary for possessing counterfeit quarters. At least one arrest for counterfeiting quarters was also made in New York City in 1931. Some of the counterfeits might have survived and may be the basis for the long-running rumor of a 1931-dated Standing Liberty quarter.

Replacement

In 1931 a design competition was announced for a coin commemorating the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. At first a Washington half dollar seemed likely, but government officials instead decided on a Washington quarter.

In February 1931, the Christian Science Monitor reported that the head of George Washington may appear on the quarter in 1932. The first Washington quarters were released in August 1932. No one was sure whether the Washington quarter would be a one-year commemorative or an ongoing regular issue. The Numismatist predicted that if the design were popular, it would remain in production.

Because of the Depression, no quarters were struck in 1933. When production resumed in 1934, the Washington design returned.

Once hailed as a “silvern beauty,” the Standing Liberty quarter slipped away quietly. As the New York Times put it, Liberty was a loser on new coin designs picturing presidents, and the Standing Liberty which had adorned the quarter since 1916 was on its way out.

MacNeil intended the Standing Liberty quarter to be a symbol of wartime sentiment. According to the Treasury secretary, it was a “fast-wearing” design that never quite worked out. In the opinion of collectors, it is a masterpiece that will stand in beauty forever.

 

HAM-SLQ-BronzeMaster

See a “Pony Express” in miniature below

Saint Joseph, Missouri was the starting point for the Pony Express.
From April 1860 to October 1861, the Pony Express delivered mail westward to Sacramento California.

The Pony Express

More than 1,800 miles in 10 days! From St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California the Pony Express could deliver a letter faster than ever before.
In operation for only 18 months between April 1860 and October 1861, the Pony Express nevertheless has become synonymous with the Old West. In the era before electronic communication, the Pony Express was the thread that tied East to West.

SOURCE: [ https://www.nps.gov/poex/learn/historyculture/index.htm ] as of June 8, 2019

MacNeil’s “The Pony Express” at Saint Joseph, Missouri

Today, Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s last public monument, sculpted in 1940, commemorates that brief history of westward expansion.

A blackened bronze Pony Express rider with a bandanna over his face heads west over the dusty trail to the next station. What awaits him there will be another fast pony ready for the rider and his bag of mail to hop into the saddle. Thus, the next leg of the continuous trek across the prairies, rivers, plains, foothills and mountainside goes westward.

A bronze miniature of this sculpture has been obtained recently.  The piece was originally cast in 1940 by the Jennings Brothers Manufacturing Company of Bridgeport, Conn. The seller notes: 

Replica miniature Statue copyrighted by HAMN in 1940.

Never cleaned in original condition. No damage or repairs, Never molested never used as a book end!!! the statue is approx 5 1/2″ in width and approx 6″ in height.

Tag on bottom of the statuette identifies it.

 
The seller comments:

“I am offering an unmolested example of a reproduction of the Pony Express rider of an exact copy  of the statue  erected in  St. Josephs  MO. 

This  single statue was given to “Nora Finch ”  Office manager to the owner of Loges department store NYC  April 20 th  1940.  Upon her retirement.  Original tag on bottom.  felt is also original.  This is as original as one could find.  Not many of these around.   Design and copyright by  Hermon A. MacNeil   “C”  H.A.M.N.  JB  on the front where the “Pony Express”  located… Good luck   USA  sales only”
 
 

I never met Hermon MacNeil.

I never met my maternal grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil.  

ALL OF LIFE and our family histories are filled with people we HAVE NEVER MET.

In 2014 I wrote an article for the MacNeil Clan Magazine,

The Galley.

I include the the pages and the text of that article below in this post:

The photos can also be viewed in this previous post. 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil – American Sculptor – (1866-1947)

MacNeil Clan history, like all family history, is filled with people we have never met.  One MacNeil who has always fascinated me is Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  Researching “Uncle” Hermon has also led me to another amazing man, Robert Lister MacNeil. Both men were present when the Clan MacNeil Association was formed ninety-three years ago. 

MacNeil kinsman.

On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City.  Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a sculptor, who served as the clan’s first president.  At that time, Robert Lister was 32 years of age, a practicing architect in New York City, and a veteran of the First World War. He had succeeded to the chiefship of the Clan MacNeil just six years earlier.  His dreams of the Isle of Barra and restoring Kisimul Castle (as told in his book The Castle in the Sea) were but faint hopes that would await decades and the efforts of many MacNeils for their accomplishment.

Dan “Neil” Leininger in a MacNeil kilt at Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland 2014. WHAT A TOUR it was!!!

His other kinsman was Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Hermon was the older of the two, an accomplished sculptor, also practicing in New York City, he had already created a myriad of statues, sculptures, monuments, as well as, the U.S. Standing Liberty Quarter first minted in 1916.  Although these two MacNeils were 23 years apart in age, they were both trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a school for architects and sculptors in the Classic Greco-Roman styles.  A lasting bond between them formed through their shared artistic talents, professional skills, and years of Clan MacNeil activity.

Hermon MacNeil designed a bronze plaque that was unveiled and dedicated on May 28, 1928 on the campus of Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, NC. The plaque commemorated the 1735 landing of Neil MacNeil of Jura, Scotland with 350 followers.  This group made up mostly of clan members landed at the Cape Fear Settlement in North Carolina. The plaque was placed on a red granite stone and marked another clan project shared by these two men.

In his later years, Robert Lister stated: “Hermon was an outstanding sculptor and one of my dearest friends all the rest of his life.”  In 1970, six years after publishing those words, Robert Lister MacNeil died at the age of 81.  Twenty-three years earlier (in 1947), Hermon Atkins MacNeil had died, also at the same age of 81.  All of the above was discovered as I “searched for Uncle Hermon.” I never met either of these two MacNeil men. The more I learn of them both, the more striking I find the parallels in their lives.

MacNeil roots. The third MacNeil man that I never met was my own grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil (1860-1932). Whenever my mother spoke of her father or of her “Uncle Hermon,” I would see a certain smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.  Emotionally, recalling her McNeil memories seemed to take her to “a very pleasant place.” On the MacNeil family tree, her father and Hermon MacNeil were first cousins. But “Uncle Hermon” was what the whole family always called him and what he always considered himself to be. Though she did not share them often, my mother’s stories instilled in me a sense of “wonder” about these two “MacNeil” men. 

Genetically, my mother gave all of us six children her MacNeil biology, but when I first realized that my parents also gave me the middle name of “Neil,” I felt some extra portion of my Scottish ancestry. That feeling has only grown as I get older.  My grandfather McNeil died before I was born.  I was just two years old when Hermon MacNeil died.  Now as an old man myself this MacNeil heritage and my memories of the sparkle in mother’s eyes have expanded my interest in these three MacNeils, and in the many other MacNeils that I have yet to meet.

MacNeil pursuits. So I am pursuing my MacNeil Clan interests in several ways.  In 2010 I formally began searching for “Uncle Hermon” by building a “digital gallery” of the life and work as a sculptor. I built HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com, a website dedicated to making his sculpture and career available to the world. A web search of the name “Hermon MacNeil” will take you there.  His sculptures, statues, monuments are scattered from Washington, DC to Portland, Oregon, and from New York City to Gallup, New Mexico.  Now this virtual gallery features over 500 photos and 125 stories of Hermon MacNeil’s life and work.  There you can see his statues of George Washington from Washington Arch, NYC; Ezra Cornell at Cornell University, William McKinley at Columbus, Ohio; Abraham Lincoln at Champaign, Illinois; Pony Express at St. Joseph, Missouri; Pere Marquette in Chicago; and monuments in Philadelphia, Charleston, Albany, and Flushing, and dozens of other cities.

In 2013 I became a member of the Clan MacNeil Association of America.  I did not know its existence until I saw the 1928 news story of the MacNeil plaque dedication in Red Springs.  For the last three yearsI have shared “MacNeil stories” at our annual family reunion of my siblings and our children and grand children.  In August 2013 I went to my first Highland Festival. My nephew in Colorado  told me about the attended the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Fest in Estes Park.  What a great celebration of Celtic pride and heritage.

Donna and I have booked our spots on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland.  We reserved our passage before I received the Fall/Winter issue of The Galley with Rory MacNeil’s invitation to the World Gathering of the Clan MacNeil on the Isle of Barra from August 4-7, 2014.  We hope to meet some of you there this summer.

  1. I joined Clan MacNeil Association I have attended the 2013 Estes Park Highland Fest
  2. I have booked spots for Donna and I on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland
  3. I continue to research HAM

TODAY marks the  153rd anniversary of the birth

of Hermon Atkins MacNeil

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

AND THE 10th Year of my Search for “Uncle Hermon”
for whom this website is dedicated.

For a brief summary of his life and work click here for => A Brief Bio of Hermon Atkins MacNeil 

This website also is inspired by the memory of my mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger.

I remember my mother telling me about her “Uncle Hermon.” 

She handed me some Liberty Standing Quarters”  from her grocery change and showed me the little “M” at the left foot of Lady Liberty.

She showed me “The Sun Vow” statue in the Saint Louis Art Museum.  We also visited The Pony Express” statue in St. Joseph, Missouri.  I grew up with a sense of pride and quiet fascination with mom’s “Uncle Hermon” 

I never met “Uncle Hermon”

Hermon A. MacNeil died on October 2, 1947 at the age of 81 years, 7 months, and 8 days.  On the day that he died I was just two years-old.

To read the whole article, Click and open in a separate window

My own Mother died years later in the winter of 1985. At that time, I wrote:

With her passing a warm, safe feeling faded from my world. I was the “baby” of her six children. Her death ushered in feelings of being a midlife orphan who would soon turn forty. Darkness seemed to creep in from the far corners of my life. A strange fearful child inside of me said, “Who will take care of me now?”

 

As the years passed, I would think of mom, and occasionally, of her “Uncle Hermon.”

By the turn of the 2K millennium, computers and the internet had become household items.  This allowed people to hunt, find, and save data.  I found fascinating stories about Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Virtually anything from anywhere could be researched. 

In 2010, I met Dan DeBlock. He is a retired Army Chaplain and Lutheran Minister who builds websites for churches.  It started as a hobby interest and became Leiturgia Communications, Inc. The Host and Tech Support for this website.

One day I asked Dan DeBlock, “Could a website be built as virtual gallery of the sculpture of Hermon Atkins MacNeil?”

Nine years and 170 stories later, “HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com” is the answer to my question and Dan’s hosting.

In that year (2010), I seriously began my “Searching for Uncle Hermon.”

That journey continues.  This is story # 171 – A Birthday Present for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School.

 

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Here is ONE place to go to see sculpture of Hermon A. MacNeil & his students. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and private, these creations point us toward the history and values that root Americans.

Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.           WATCH US GROW

WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the work from all angles, including setting.
2. Take close up photos of details that you like
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of you & others beside the work.
5. Tell your story of adventure. It adds personal interest.
6. Send photos to ~ Webmaster at: HAMacNeil@gmail.com