January 2015:   A trip to the National Archives, College Park, Maryland yielded more than 470 pages of material pertaining to the Jefferson nickel contest and the coin in general.  The documents were part of record group 104, Records of the U. S. Mint. The material has been digitized and organized into a single PDF document that is available upon request.  A summary document is available for viewing to give an idea of the scope of the content.

March 2015:   A trip to the National Archives, Washington, D.C. yielded more than 80 pages of material pertaining to the Jefferson nickel competition.  The documents were part of record group 66, Records of the Commission of Fine Arts. The material has been digitized and organized into a single PDF document that is available upon request.  A summary document is available for viewing to give an idea of the scope of the content.
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The United States Treasury announced in January 1938 the open competition for the design of the new five-cent coin to be called the "Jefferson nickel."  Multiple newspapers across the nation carried an Associated Press (AP) article indicating the contest notice was officially released on January 25, 1938.  During this same time, The Treasury Department Art Projects (TDAP) released Bulletin #14, reporting to the public its activities for the period of July 1937 - January 1938.  Inside this pamphlet, the competition for a new U.S. coin was found on page 3.  Presumably, this is the release the AP reported on.  Prospective participants were strongly encouraged to request the detailed form announcement before commencing work on the coin design. 
According to a March 28, 1938 AP report, the "contest instructions were sent to nearly 8,000 persons."

According to Schlag, and as reported in the January 1965 issue of the Numismatist, on April 20, 1938, five days after the models were submitted, he received a telegram from the Superintendent of the Section of Painting and Sculpture requesting he provide a biography.  A day later he reportedly received a phone call advising him that he had won the contest.   By April 22, 1938 the press was running a piece by the AP announcing the results to a national audience. 

Interestingly enough, it was not until September 1938, when Bulletin #17 was issued by the TDAP, that the results of the contest were reported.
The cause for this delay could be that Schlag's final designs, including the revisions required by Treasury, were not formally approved until late July 1938.

 
1938 Nickel Competition (page 1)
1938 Nickel Competition (page 2)
 --- NUMBER 14 ---
JULY, 1937 TO JANUARY, 1938

BULLETIN
Announcing
FIVE PAINTING
ONE SCULPTURE
and
ONE U. S. COIN COMPETITION

Treasury Department Art Projects
Public Buildings Branch, Procurement Division
Treasury Department, Washington, D. C.


Page 3

NATIONAL COMPETITION FOR NEW DESIGN FOR FIVE CENT COIN

OPEN TO ALL AMERICAN SCULPTORS

    The Treasury Department, Procurement Division, Section of Painting and Sculpture invites competition for designs for a new five cent coin to be known as the “Jefferson Nickel.”  This competition is open to all American sculptors.

Requirements

    Prospective competitors are herewith warned that there are specific legal and other conditions which must be accurately complied with in carrying out a model for a coin competition.  It is, therefore, of first importance that before taking any further steps in this competition the competitor should write to the Section of Painting and Sculpture for a statement of the legal requirements affecting the designing of United States coins.

Amount to be Paid

    The sum of $1,000 is to be paid to the winner of the competition.  The sculptor whose designs win will be required to execute a formal contract with the Treasury Department agreeing, among other things, to make any revisions required by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Advisory Committee

    All designs will be judged by an advisory committee composed of the following members who have kindly consented to act with the Section of Painting and Sculpture in judging the competition:

Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Mint
Mr. Sidney Waugh, Sculptor
Mr. Albert Stewart, Sculptor
Mr. Heinz Warneke, Sculptor

Do not Sign Models

    The models should not be signed.  They should be accompanied by a plain, sealed envelope, enclosing the sculptor’s name and address.  These envelopes will be carefully numbered when received with the same number as the designs they accompany and will remain unopened until after selection of the best designs.

    The conditions stated herein are part of the detailed instructions (regarding subject matter, size of model, coinage rules, etc.,) which will be found in the Form Announcement that every artist may secure on request.  For this reason each prospective competitor is again advised that before entering the competition he MUST secure a FORM ANNOUNCEMENT.

THE COMPETITION WILL TERMINATE APRIL 15, 1938.



The Section of Painting and Sculpture would ultimately oversee the competition which was the first open design competition for a U.S. coin.  The  letter below, which is thought to be the Form Announcement referenced in the Bulletin, was issued to a host of American artists.  It is important to note that while the text of the announcement is believed to be accurate, the presentation format (letterhead, signature, etc.) are artistic recreations based on similar letters issued by the Treasury Department during this time period.



Jefferson Nickel Competition. January 25, 1938
Jefferson Nickel Competition. January 25, 1938
FORM ANNOUNCEMENT

NATIONAL COMPETITION FOR NEW DESIGN FOR FIVE CENT COIN


OPEN TO ALL AMERICAN SCULPTORS

The Treasury Department, Procurement Division, Section of Painting and Sculpture invites competition for designs for a new five cent coin to be known as the “Jefferson Nickel.”  This competition is open to all American sculptors.

The competition requirements are that a sculptor entering the competition must submit two plaster models, one representing the obverse and one the reverse of the coin.

The sum of $1,000 is to be paid to the winner.  The sculptor whose designs win the competition will be required to execute a formal contract with the Treasury Department, agreeing to make any revisions required by the Secretary of the Treasury.

All designs will be judged by the following Advisory Committee who have kindly consented to act with the Section of Painting and Sculpture in judging the competition:

     Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Mint
    
Mrs. Sidney Waugh, Sculptor

     Mr. Albert Stewart, Sculptor
    
Mr. Heins Warneke, Sculptor

The models should not be signed.  They should be accompanied by a plain, sealed envelope, enclosing the sculptor’s name and address.  These envelopes will be carefully numbered when received with the same number as the designs they accompany and will remain unopened unless they conform strictly with the foregoing conditions.

Any sculptor may submit as many designs as he desires.  Should he submit more than one set of designs he should remember to send a sealed envelope with his address with each entry.

The subject matter must contain on the obverse of the coin an authentic portrait of Thomas Jefferson.  On the reverse side the subject matter will be a representation of Monticello, Jefferson’s historic home near Charlottesville.  In addition to the words required by law to appear on the coin, the coin may contain the inscription “MONTICELLO,” in order to identify the architecture.  The coinage laws require that there shall appear upon the obverse side of the coin the word “LIBERTY” and the date “1938,” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and the denomination “FIVE CENTS.”  The coin should also contain the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” None of the legends are to be abbreviated and should be all in capital letters.

Neither the United States of America nor any officer, agency, agents, or employee thereof shall be liable to the sculptor for the use by any person of any idea, plan, or design, expressed or executed by the sculptor in connection with the work.

Competitors are invited to participate in this competition subject to the condition, in view of the provisions of the laws of the United States, that any and all sketches, designs, molds, models, and the like, made by them in connection with such competition, whether or not submitted, be delivered to the committee by not later than April 15, 1938 so that they may be ultimately delivered to a representative of the Treasury Department for destruction or such other disposition as the Department may see fit to make of them.

The Treasury Department shall be under no obligation to show, exhibit, or preserve the work of any sculptor.

The models in order to be acceptable to the Treasury Department must be of plaster and should not exceed 8½ inches in diameter and should be executed in such a manner as to be suitable for coinage purposes.  The background or field should have a slight radius, that is, the background must curve slightly from the center to meet the edge of the coin or border.  A model with an absolutely flat background would be practically impossible to coin.  The extreme depth of relief from the border to the deepest part should not exceed 5/32 of an inch and the highest part of the design should be kept slightly under the level of the border.

The competition will terminate April 15th, on which date the models should have been delivered, carrying charges prepaid, to the Section of Painting and Sculpture, Procurement Division, Treasury Department, Washington, D.C.

If no designs are submitted which are of sufficient merit to justify an acceptance, no contract will be awarded as a result of this competition.

Photographs of a front and side view of Monticello are available and may be obtained by writing to the Section of Painting and Sculpture.



TDAP Bulletin #17
TDAP Bulletin #17, September 1938

. . .

JEFFERSON NICKEL COMPETITION WINNER

    An Advisory Committee consisting of Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the United States Mint, Heinz Warneke, Sidney Waugh, and Albert Stewart, sculptors, awarded to Felix Schlag of Chicago, the money ($1,000) offered by the United States Mint for the best design submitted in an anonymous competition for the Jefferson Nickel.

    The design submitted by Henry Kreis received Honorable Mention.

    Mr. Schlag was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in September 1891.  He has won many prizes and began his art studies in the Munich Academy in Germany.  An American citizen since 1929.


. . .


Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Mint
In April of 1938, Edward Bruce (left), Director, Section of Painting and Sculpture, and Nellie Tayloe Ross (right), Director of the Mint, reviewed the 398 plaster model pairs submitted by the April 15th deadline.  Sculptors, Sidney Waugh, Albert Stewart, and Heinz Warneke assisted in the judging and selection process.

The Treasury Department was under no obligation to preserve the models which were submitted; however, it seems a few of the artists retained copies which have resulted in the commemorative minting of the "nickels that never were."

Among the nearly 340 artists that submitted entries, we have images of the contributions of:  Anthony De Francisci, William & Frank Hejda, Christian Arpad Jakobb, Roy E. King, Henry Kreis, Marcello Rotundo, Henry Vander Velde, and of course Felix Schlag's original submission.


 Anthony deFrancisci
 Anthony De Francisci
Anthony deFrancisci
 

Frans Karel Hejda

William and Frank Hejda

Note: This design is often mistakenly attributed to a Frans Karel Hejda.
The records of the National Archives indicate that William and Frank Hejda were the only submitters with the last name Hejda.


[NO IMAGE AVAILABLE]
[IMAGE SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOMED]
 

 
Christian Arpad Jakobb

[NO IMAGE AVAILABLE]
[IMAGE SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOMED]
 


Roy E King

 Roy E. King
Roy E. King





https://sites.google.com/site/felixschlag1891/jefferson-nickel-competition/1938-04-15_HenryKreis.jpg

Henry Kreis
Honorable Mention
Henry Kreis




Marcello Rotundo

[NO IMAGE AVAILABLE]
[IMAGE SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOMED]

 
Original Submission

Felix O. Schlag
Final Design

Felix O. Schlag
First Prize Winner
Felix Schlag
 




 
Henry Vander Velde

 


 
Unknown Artist

[NO IMAGE AVAILABLE]
[IMAGE SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOMED]

Photo courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries

 


 
Unknown Artist

[NO IMAGE AVAILABLE]
[IMAGE SUBMISSIONS ARE WELCOMED]

Photo courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries












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Ċ
Felix Schlag,
Jan 13, 2015, 4:35 PM
Ċ
Felix Schlag,
Mar 19, 2015, 12:34 PM