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1889

1889-indian-head-cent

Given that I was a coin collector in my youth—but never, never a numismatist—it shouldn’t surprise that coins show up as artifacts in the Agincourt story.

James Barton Longacre, chief engraver at the Philadelphia mint, designed the “Indian Head” penny that was in use for the fifty years from 1859 until it was replaced by Lincoln (with the wheat background) in 1909. I wonder if the choice of a Native American image would be politically incorrect today.

Eighteen eighty-nine was another of those temporal pinpoints that punctuate Agincourt history. It was the year Fennimore county commissioners dedicated the second of their three courthouses. That Romanesque pile was the work of architect William Halsey Wood—don’t get me started—and also the birth year of our hero Anson Tennant.

In 1912 (the year his architectural office opened with an almost total lack of fanfare) Anson also made a trip to Mantoloking, New Jersey and coincidentally attended Episcopal church service in another building designed by Wood. And when the family returned to Iowa he made a series of children’s wooden block, inspired by Fredrich Fröbel, that represent both the Jersey church and the hometown courthouse. I’ve decided to give these blocks “cornerstones” of a sort and embed coins appropriate to their creation: 1912 dimes will grace the church set (the date the blocks were crafted) and 1889 Indian Head pennies will date the courthouse set (not yet crafted). Both sets will be artifacts in the 2015 exhibit.


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