1932 Laura Gardin Fraser Quarter Plaster and Original Photograph
1932 Washington Quarter Reverse Plaster
Designed and Sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser
Plaster & Original Photograph from her Estate Adopted Reverse Design for the 1999 $5 Gold
George Washington Commemorative
UNIQUE 11½" Plaster Model
This 1932 quarter reverse plaster model for Laura Gardin Fraser's winning 1932 Washington Quarter submission is an amazing and significant discovery, unknown to the numismatic community until 2020.
The significance and timelessness of Laura Fraser's design cannot be overstated is it was selected as the winner of the design competition for the 1932 Washington Quarter by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) (though overridden by Treasury Secretary Andrew William Mellon at the time), issued as the 1999 George Washington Commemorative Gold Five-Dollar coin, and has seen Fraser's obverse used for the circulating quarter starting in 2022.
This plaster and photograph were introduced to the numismatic community by Steve Davis of Numismatic Auctions LLC, from a consigner that indicated these were likely passed down through Victor Anthony de Meo (1882-1947), a friend and business associate of the Frasers, to his son William de Meo who worked for the Frasers, to extended family members and finally an estate sale.
There is one other Laura Fraser plaster model known with the identical reverse design. However, it is a smaller 9 inch white alabaster plaster which Laura Fraser sculpted. It was displayed in a museum and was eventually purchased by a private collector. In contrast, an olive green finish was applied to this larger 11 1/2 inch white alabaster plaster model by Laura Fraser in her studio, and is accompanied by an original photograph documenting its creation.
Laura Gardin Fraser was a noted American Sculptor and was the first woman to design a U.S. commemorative coin. Her officially adopted designs include the 1921 Alabama Half Dollar, the 1922 Grant Gold Dollar and Half Dollar, and the 1925 Vancouver Half Dollar. Additionally, she co-designed the 1926 Oregon Trail Half Dollar with her husband, sculptor James Earle Fraser.
Steve Davis of Numismatic Auctions LLC, described this plaster model as:
A white alabaster plaster model with olive green applied finish, 11½" diameter, 1 1/4" thick, with integral wire hangar as made on back, unsigned but design executed by Laura Gardin Fraser for use as the reverse of the 1932 George Washington Commemorative replacement for the Standing Liberty Quarter. The design depicts a magnificent Eagle in Heraldry with arrows and olive spray in talons, 13 stars above with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at top while the Motto E PLURIBUS UNUM and QUARTER DOLLAR denomination reside below.
Accompanied with this plaster is a rare original 8" x 10" sepia tone photographic portrait print of Laura Gardin Fraser in her studio sculpting the reverse in plaster. Victor Anthony de Meo was a photographer for a Frasers and further highlights the relationship between the two families. This photograph came with this plaster when her estate was purchased.
Laura Fraser's design of her 1932 Washington Quarter was finally adopted decades later and is featured on both the obverse and reverse of the 1999 Washington Five Dollar Gold Coin.
This unique 11½" plaster and accompanying photograph truly belong in a museum or private collection of Laura Fraser coin designs. It would be the centerpiece in a collection of the historic event surrounding the selection for the Washington Quarter designs in 1932. This officially adopted plaster model design would also be a prized addition to a collection of U.S. Gold Coins.
The Medal Maker featuring Laura Gardin Fraser
This video was produced by the Medallic Art Company which was one of the longest-lasting private mints in the United States. It ceased operations in 2016 after 113 years. In 2018, the American Numismatic Society acquired the archival remains and intellectual property rights.