A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 27, 2015
Miss Liberty (Hettie Anderson, model)

Harriette ("Hettie") Eugenia Anderson was born in 1873 in Columbia, South Carolina, and lived most of the rest of her life in Manhattan’s Harlem. She probably posed for three U.S. coins made between 1907 and 1913, but did not receive proper credit, possibly because she was black. She was a popular model for sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870-1952).

Anderson is “Victory” in Saint-Gaudens’ William Tecumseh Sherman Monument (1903) at the Grand Army Plaza entrance to Central Park. Ironically, a Southern woman leads Union General Sherman. Anderson’s identity as the model was not publicized in 1903 and only became popular since the 1980s.

Anderson probably posed for the Saint Gaudens Indian Head eagle (1907-1933), a ten-dollar gold coin. It is believed by coin scholars that the Indian head is similar to “Victory” of the Sherman Monument.

Anderson posed for the Saint-Gaudens double eagle (1907-1933), a twenty-dollar gold coin. However, other models were initially credited, and Anderson did not receive credit until the 1980s. It is believed that Homer Saint-Gaudens (1880-1958), the sculptor’s only child with his wife Augusta, played a major part in keeping this information unknown.

Anderson posed for Adolph Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar (1916-1947), a silver 50-cent piece or half dollar coin. Other models, such as Elsie Stevens (wife of the poet Wallace Stevens) and professional model Audrey Munson have usually received credit as the model. However, in a 1924 newspaper article, Weinman described Hettie Anderson in all but her name—probably, again, because Anderson was black. Weinman’s Walking Liberty model was “the most remarkable model I have ever seen” (Saint-Gaudens also gave Anderson similar high praise), was from a “fine Southern family” (neither Elsie Stevens nor Audrey Munson was Southern), was a professional model (Elsie Stevens was not a professional model), had posed for Saint-Gaudens (neither Elsie Stevens nor Audrey Munson posed for Saint-Gaudens), “lived quietly with her mother in a little apartment uptown” (Hettie Anderson lived with her mother in Harlem), and “was then over 40 years old when I made the design” (Hettie Anderson was 40 years old in 1913, but Elsie Stevens and Audrey Munson were much younger).

Anderson also probably posed as “Victory” for Weinman’s Union Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1909) in Baltimore, Maryland. “Victory” is often said to be similar to Weinman’s “Walking Liberty” coin design.

Although Hettie Anderson probably posed for three U.S. coins, she remains almost completely unknown. She does not, as of this writing in late 2015, even have a Wikipedia page.


CoinFacts Wiki
Hettie Anderson was born in South Carolina in 1873. She relocated to New York City, where she became an artist’s model, an uncommon employment at that time for a woman of African-American descent. Anderson posed for the Sherman Monument’s figure of Victory in 1897; one of her sittings with Saint-Gaudens was captured by the artist Anders Zorn. Anderson was the model for the figure of Liberty on Saint-Gaudens’ twenty-dollar gold piece.

Wikipedia: Saint-Gaudens double eagle
The Saint-Gaudens double eagle is a twenty-dollar gold coin, or double eagle, produced by the United States Mint from 1907 to 1933. The coin is named after its designer, the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who designed the obverse and reverse. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful of U.S. coins.
(...)
The obverse of Saint-Gaudens’s final design shows a female figure of Liberty, who also represents victory. Saint-Gaudens based his design on the female figure he had designed in creating New York City’s monument to General William Tecumseh Sherman, but the sculptor’s ultimate inspiration was the Nike of Samothrace. The figure for the Sherman monument was modeled by Henrietta Anderson, one of the artist’s favorite subjects. On the coin, Liberty holds a torch in one hand, representing enlightenment; an olive branch in the other, a symbol of peace. She strides across a rocky outcrop; behind her are the United States Capitol and the rays of the sun. The figure is surrounded by 46 stars, one for each of the states in 1907.

Wikipedia: Indian Head eagle
The Indian Head eagle was a ten-dollar gold piece, or eagle struck by the United States Mint continuously from 1907 until 1916, and then irregularly until 1933. The obverse and the reverse, designed by the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, were originally commissioned for use on other denominations. Saint-Gaudens was suffering from cancer, and did not survive to see the coins released.
(...)
Still believing that the design would be considered for the cent, Saint-Gaudens based his head of Liberty on a model he had sculpted, but ultimately not used, for the statue of Victory in the Sherman Monument in New York City. That bust, of South Carolinian Harriet (Hettie) Eugenia Anderson, also inspired Saint-Gaudens in his model and bas-relief, NIKΗ EIPHNH (Ancient Greek for victory and peace).

Saint-Gaudens’s reverse design, with an eagle standing on a bundle of arrows with an olive branch at its feet, was his original concept for the reverse of the double eagle, and bears a close similarity to his reverse for the inaugural medal. Saint-Gaudens’s ultimate inspiration for the reverse, by one account, was a coin of Ptolemy I of Egypt portraying a standing eagle, which was illustrated in a book he owned and had lent to Roosevelt.

Wikipedia: Walking Liberty half dollar
The Walking Liberty half dollar was a silver 50-cent piece or half dollar coin issued by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1947; it was designed by Adolph A. Weinman.
(...)
Weinman’s obverse bears a resemblance to Oscar Roty’s “Sower” design for French coins; according to numismatic historian Roger Burdette, “Weinman has taken the ideal of a nineteenth century provincial figure and turned it into an American icon.” Burdette ties both the appearance of the head of Liberty and of the branches which she carries to Baltimore’s Union Soldiers and Sailors’ Monument, designed by Weinman. The sculptor may also have drawn inspiration from a 1913 bust he did of his tenant, Elsie Stevens, wife of lawyer and poet Wallace Stevens. Elsie Stevens is generally believed to have been a model for Weinman’s Mercury dime; her daughter Holly wrote in 1966 that her mother had been the model for both coins.

NYC Parks
Grand Army Plaza
William Tecumseh Sherman
History

This majestic, gilded-bronze equestrian group statue depicts one of the United States’ best-known generals, William Tecumseh Sherman (1820 – 1891). Dedicated in 1903, it was master sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s (1848 – 1907) last major work, and serves as the centerpiece of Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza.
(...)
Harriette ("Hettie") Eugenia Anderson posed for the allegorical figure of peace leading Sherman. An African-American from Georgia, Anderson was described by the artist as “certainly the handsomest model I have ever seen of either sex.” Saint-Gaudens may also have fused the subject¹s facial features with those of long-time model, muse and mistress, Davida Johnson. The pine branch at the horse¹s feet represents Sherman¹s march through Georgia. Disliking statues looking like “smoke stacks,” Saint-Gaudens had the piece gilded with two layers of gold leaf. A frail Saint-Gaudens attended the unveiling on Memorial Day, 1903, eleven years after the monument was first proposed. “Saint-Gaudens is one of those artists for whom it is worthwhile to wait,” the Saturday Evening Post explained, however, as the successful piece was widely praised.

Newspapers.com
8 May 1924, Paducah (KY) Evening Sun, “Uncle Sam and the Ladies,” pg. 12, cols. 2-4:
Newspapers.com
20 July 1924, The Courier (Harrisburg, PA), “Uncle Sam and the Ladies,” magazine, pg. 4, cols. 2-6:
(Reprinted in 1931—ed.)
Newspapers.com
11 December 1931, New Castle (PA) News, “Uncle Sam and the Ladies,” pg. 54, cols. 2-5:
Shunned Publicity.
Yes, the next coin to carry a woman’s figure was the beautiful 1916 half dollar, designed by Mr. Adlph Weinman, of New York. For the figure of Liberty he selected as his inspiration a professional model —a woman as remarkable as Miss Williams.

She was a striking, dark-haired girl of refinement and culture, who lived quietly with her mother in a little apartment uptown.

No wild studio parties, no late suppers, no midnight feasts tempted her from her simple and regular mode of living. She had a large circle of friends among the artists and posed regularly for St, Gaudens and other noted sculptors. But it was friend to friend, rather than artist to model, with the men she inspired.

“She is the most remarkable model I have ever seen,” said Mr. Weinman recently, speaking of his “Goddess” enthusiastically.

“Yes, but you didn’t mention her name,” he was politely reminded.

“I know,” he replied, with a twinkle in his bright blue eyes, “but the lady prefers to remain anonymous. She’s from a fine Southern family, sensitive and cultured, and shrinks from being known as a professional model.”

Long Distance Record.
Why did you choose her for ‘Liberty’ and why did you call her remarkable just now?” he was asked.

“I chose her for ‘Liberty’ out of all the women I had ever seen because she had the most beautiful proportions. And she was then over 40 years old when I made the design. But her regular mode of living had kept her form supple and healthy and firm through over 20 years of continuous posing. And that’s almost a ‘marathon’ long-distance record for a sculptor’s model,” Mr. Weinman agreed.

“She was the most remarkable women I ever knew because she took her work seriously. She was systematic and businesslike and never forgot an appointment.

“A lover of art herself, she was a charming companion during the long, tiresome hours of posing. So many girls are flighty and fidgety—anxious to get through so they can be off to this or that party. Others inwardly rebel at the work and resent the fact that they have to earn their living by such hard work and tedious labor as holding a certain position for hours at a time.

“All these various states of mind can’t help but make themselves felt. But Miss ____ always influenced artists to do their best work by their pleasant attitude of mind. She herself was a real inspiration.”

Winged Victory Dime.
The anonymous Southern beauty has never married. She gave up her work as a model shortly after Mr. Weinman immortalized her charms on our currency.

Even her associates are unaware of a “Goddess” in their midst, and doubtless the trustees are tactless enough to pay her salary in the usual crisp greenbacks, instead of gallantly rewarding her each pay day with a shower of self-portraits.

American Art (Summer 2002)
Zorn and Saint - Gaudens…
Saint - Gaudens, Zorn and the Goddesslike Miss Anderson

By William E. Hagans
Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920) etched a portrait of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and his model while visiting the sculptor’s New York City studio on February 14, 1897. This diminutive work ranks alongside Zorn’s etched portraits of Ernest Renan, Madame Simon, Paul Verlaine, and Auguste Rodin as one of the artist’s finest character studies. The image also provides an important entrée into the entwined personal and professional relationship of Zorn and Saint-Gaudens. Although there has been confusion regarding the identity of the nude woman positioned behind the sculptor in the print, recent research has identified her as Harriette Eugenia Anderson, also a model for the Victory of Saint-Gaudens’s Sherman Monument and the twenty-dollar gold coin that he designed for the United States Mint.

Google Books
Fascinating Facts, Mysteries and Myths About U.S. Coins
By Robert R. VanRyzin
Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc.
2009
Pg. 94:
Saint-Gaudens spoke glowingly of Anderson in the uncensored version of the Idiot memoirs. Saint-Gaudens wrote:

“I...modeled...the nude for the figure of Victory for the Sherman Group, from certainly the handsomest model I hav ever seen of either sex, and I hav seen a great many… The model was a young woman from Georgia [actually, South Carolina, born in 1873], dark long legged, which is not common with women, and which if not exaggerated, is an essential requirement for beauty; Besides she had what is also rare with handsome models, a power of posing patiently, steadily and thoroughly in the spirit one wished. She could be depended on… Having seen her the other day for the first time in eight years, I found her just as splendid as she was fifteen years ago when she was first drawn to my attention...” (Dartmouth College Library)

CoinWeek
African-Americans on US Coins: Circulating Coins (Part 3)
By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker August 10, 2012
(...)
Emblematic of Liberty – Hettie Anderson and America’s most beautiful coin
(...)
Written out of History
William E. Hagans, who spent a number of years researching the life and work of Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920), held a key piece of information that helped numismatic scholars determine just who it was that Saint-Gaudens used as a model on his famed $20 gold piece. The clue came in the form of a sketch, made extemporaneously in 1897, that shows the world-weary sculptor sitting on the edge of the model’s stand.
(...)
In the background lies Harriette Eugenia “Hettie” Anderson, an African-American model who Saint-Gaudens referred to as a woman with the figure of a goddess.  It was already known that Saint-Gaudens used her as the model for the figure of Victory in his monument to Sherman. By this time, Hettie had posed for a number of artists in New York, including Saint-Gaudens’ protégé Adolph Weinman. But her connection to the double eagle was scarcely known outside of Saint-Gaudens’ closest family, friends and colleagues – and his family, at least, tried to keep it this way. Homer Saint-Gaudens, the artist’s son, edited her out of his father’s unfinished autobiography.  In drawing connections to Hettie and the double eagle, Hagan solved a nearly century old mystery that was hiding in plain sight.

Coin World
Wed Mar 16 16:41:43 EDT 2016
BLACK LADY LIBERTY NOT NEW
By Louis Golino
(...)
Her name was Henrietta (“Hettie”) Eugenia Anderson, born in 1873 in Columbia, South Carolina, who spent most of her life in the part of New York City known as Harlem.

Her identity as the real model for Liberty on these iconic designs by the two most celebrated sculptors in our history was largely hidden until the 1980’s, and it is believed that Saint Gaudens wife and only son played a major role in suppressing that information.
(...)
But there is no doubt, as a number of historical sources confirm this, that Hettie Anderson modeled for both sculptors (and had an affair with Weinman), that both men considered her to be a goddess, and that the credit she is due as the model for the most famous Lady Liberty in American numismatic history is even today not well known.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityArt/Sculpture • Friday, November 27, 2015 • Permalink