Robert Scot designed the obverse and John Eckstein the reverse.
The obverse was based on a drawing of Ann Bingham by the
famous American portrait artist, Gilbert Stuart. It shows
a right facing, draped bust of Liberty in profile. A ribbon
ties the upper strands of her hair, while the rest flows
down her shoulders. There are eight six-pointed stars to
her left and seven to her right. The word LIBERTY is above
and the date is below. The Small Eagle of the reverse was
designed by Eckstein. It shows a skinny eagle perched on
clouds surrounded by a wreath that is tied with a bow. Around
the wreath is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The right
side of the wreath is palm, and the left side is laurel.
The palm is a compliment to Henry William DeSaussure, who
came from South Carolina. Unfortunately, by the time the
coin was issued, he had resigned his position as Mint Director.
No denomination is indicated, and the edge is reeded.
Evidently Gilbert Stuart was disappointed
with Draped Bust motif because his connection to it was
suppressed. The blame is partly on Engraver Robert Scot,
a bank-note-plate artist who had no knowledge about making
a die or a device punch. It is also on his assistant, John
Eckstein, who made “models” for the new Draped Bust coin
designs. Eckstein is also given credit for designing the
Small Eagle reverse with its cloud shaped perch and oversized
With fifteen stars on the obverse, one for
each state in the Union at the time, it is evident that
no one thought that there would be a sixteenth state. Tennessee
was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796, yet many quarters,
and other denominations that used the same motif, were struck
after that date with fifteen stars.
Thomas Jefferson chose Robert Scot to be
the first Chief Engraver of the United States Mint on November
23, 1793. Scot was born in 1744 in Edinburgh, Scotland or
England. (Documentary evidence is lacking as to where he
was born.) He was trained as a watchmaker in England and
learned engraving afterwards. He moved to the United States
in 1777, where he worked as an engraver of plates, bills
of exchange, and office scales. During the Revolution, he
was an engraver of paper money.
In 1780 he was made the State Engraver of
Virginia. He moved to Philadelphia the next year. He was
appointed Chief Engraver of the United States Mint on November
23, 1793 by David Rittenhouse, Mint Director. His salary
in 1795 was $1,200 per year. The Mint Director received
only $800 dollars per year more. Scot’s ability to make
dies was limited, and in his advanced years he had failing
eyesight. His work was somewhat less than that done in Europe
at the time, and Scot was criticized for its poor quality.
He was responsible for designs of most of America’s first
coins. These include the Flowing Hair and the Draped Bust
motifs used on early silver coins and the Capped Bust gold
coins. Scot also designed the 1794-1797 half-cent, the 1800-1808
draped bust half-cent, and the Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace
Medal. He died on November 1, 1823 and was succeeded by
William Kneass as Chief Engraver.
John Eckstein was a German engraver who
called himself an “historical painter and statuary to the
King of Prussia.” Because of his delay in getting to America,
he was not hired as the Engraver at the Mint. In his stead,
Robert Scot received the position. However, in the summer
of 1795, Eckstein did some work for the Mint. He was paid
for two models for dollars. Some researchers believe that
these models were dies for the new Draped Bust of Liberty
that had been drawn by Gilbert Stuart. Others feel that
Eckstein only made plaster models that were used by Scot
but were not dies. Later Eckstein and his brother Fredrick
worked as engravers of copperplate in Philadelphia.