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Laura Gardin Fraser

Started by brandm24, August 03, 2020, 12:03:11 PM

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brandm24

LGF 1.jpg


Laura Gardin Fraser has the distinction of being the first woman to design an American coin. In 1921 her design appeared on the Alabama Centennial Commemorative issued by the mint to honor the state's centennial in 1919. (Image attached) Her signature, LGF, appears on the reverse under the eagle's tail feathers.

Born Laura Gardin in 1889 in Chicago, she was encouraged by her artist mother towards artistic endeavors. She became a highly skilled sculptor at a young age and particularly liked doing pieces involving animals.

She studied at various schools but by 1910 was enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City. While a student there she met her future husband, James Earle Fraser, her teacher and mentor. James was the man who designed the Buffalo Nickel for the US Treasury. After they married, they moved to Westport, Connecticut and set up a studio that they shared jointly.

Both were enormously talented and produced many iconic pieces, both jointly and individually. Laura is known best for the huge monument she sculpted of Civil War Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson that sits in Baltimore's Wyman Park, three relief panels at the entrance to the library at West Point Academy, and a granite figure of Pegasus at Brook Green Gardens in South Carolina.

Along with her husband, Laura designed another commemorative coin, the stunning Oregon Trail piece of 1927.

The Frasers worked at their Westport studio for the remainder of their lives. James passed away in 1953 and Laura in 1966.

Bruce



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Always Faithful

Oklahoman

She also won the contest to design the Washington quarter but because she was a woman the inferior design by a male was used.  Her and her husband's studio and records are with the Cowboy hall of fame in Oklahoma City.  She also designed the Philippine coins depicting MacArthur.

brandm24

That was a travesty for sure. She was immensely talented and lost to an inferior artist.

There are so many examples of her work that display her talent. The examples I showed in my post are just a few of the beautiful ones I've seen. I wasn't aware of her design of the MacArthur coin so thanks for pointing it out to me.

I don't think she had any connection to the west, but her husband did I know. It's nice to hear that their legacy is being preserved.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Figleaf

Agreed, it's good to know her work is being preserved, but first, I read a news story that many US museums are in trouble because domestic tourism has collapsed. Time magazine found that museums suffer more because of COVID-19 than restaurants. Second, the pair is significant for much more than making Western figures.

Anyway, the best I can do here is encourage our US members to visit their local museums. Not for dutiful tourism or the children but for auto-education or genuine interest. Chances are you always wanted to do that anyway and never had the time, so this is your chance.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

brandm24

No question they were doing non-western themed pieces too. Laura in particular loved to incorporate animals in her designs. She was born in Chicago and grew up in New York and Connecticut so her early life wasn't shaped by western influence.

Her husband on the other hand was born in Minnesota and moved around as a child with his impoverished family. He was strongly influenced by Native American tribes that he came into contact with. Their culture and plight influenced him greatly.

Whatever their influences and motivations, both were immensely talented.

Bruce
Always Faithful

WillieBoyd2

Laura Gardin Fraser's Baltimore Confederate general statues were removed by city authorities during a purge of Confederate monuments in 2017.

:)
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brandm24

Quote from: WillieBoyd2 on August 06, 2020, 06:06:27 AM
Laura Gardin Fraser's Baltimore Confederate general statues were removed by city authorities during a purge of Confederate monuments in 2017.

:)

That's not surprising, but hopefully they weren't destroyed.

Bruce
Always Faithful