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1912

1912-barber-dime

Charles E. Barber was chief engraver at the U.S. Mint when he designed this dime. His personification of “Liberty” also graced the nickel and quarter, but pristine examples like this are way beyond my price range. Others in circulated condition, however, have already become artifacts in the Agincourt story.

1912 

Nineteen twelve marked several events in the community. It was an active year for Anson Tennant, especially, including a family trip to Arizona in the year of its statehood; two summer weeks in Mantoloking, New Jersey, with great-aunt Hester Tennant Farnham; and the launch of Anson’s own architectural practice that fall. All things considered, 1912 was a watershed for Anson and his family, considering his magnum opus the new public library would soon be undertaken and then in 1915, at a moment when he thought some respite was possible, the twenty-five-year-old sailed for England on the RMS Lusitania. Hindsight may be 20-20, but memory can be highly selective in its recollection, so that year may seem more significant to us a century and more away than it may have to Anson and his family in the moment.

It’s Thursday. I imagine him buying a newspaper at the stand in the lobby of the Blenheim Hotel. He paid with a tarnished quarter but received two shiny dimes in change. Might he have fingered one of them and thought, Put one of these away for my grandchildren, a memento of the year that will change my life. Or did he simply thank Jack, the tobacconist, slip the coins into his vest pocket and hurry to lunch in the lobby restaurant with his sister Lucy.

Was he the punctual sort or was Lucy already waiting? If not, he may have glanced a the Plantagenet headline, though I suspect he was looking for an item about the establishment of his new practice: an office in the Wasserman Block (that’s above Wasserman’s Hardware at 100 North Broad) and his first official commission, remodeling the very building he was about to call his professional home because Joachim & Perlmutter had botched the job two years before. “A. C. Tennant, Architect” appeared now among the Professional Advertisements in the far left column of page two. This was more than lunch; it was a celebration. Did older men crossing the lobby pause to offer good wishes for the enterprise and say “Call me” for the first time as their equal? How many would be future clients?

How might a young man (he was twenty-five that year) greet an older married sister? As someone without siblings and unacquainted with Edwardian social conventions, I’m at a loss. And what were they wearing? [Note to self: ask Peter Vandervort for a fashion profile.] And then there’s the luncheon menu; whether they knew the service staff; their conversation. Hiding in the potted palms isn’t required, though; I’m in a pretty good position to answer my own questions.


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