Robert Scot was Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1793 until his death in 1823. He was succeeded by William Kneass. Scot designed the popular and rare Flowing Hair dollar coinage along with the Liberty Cap half cent. Scot is perhaps best known for his design, the Draped Bust, which was used on many silver and copper coins. Robert Scot was the most prolific engraver of early American patriotic iconography, with symbols and images depicting rebellion, unity, victory, and liberty throughout his career in America.
He was born Robert Scott (double t) in Scotland but changed his surname to Scot (one t) when he moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1775.
He began engraving plates for Virginia currency in 1775, first using the Arms of Britain. After the landmark Fifth Virginia Convention of May 1776, Scot engraved Virginia currency with the radical Virginia Seal design, which depicted the overthrow of tyranny. In 1778 Scot engraved Virginia currency with the motto Sic Semper Tyrannis meaning "Thus Always to Tyrants." Scot moved from Fredericksburg to the new Virginia Capitol of Richmond in 1780, as Engraver to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Under the direction of Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson in 1780, Robert Scot engraved the Virginia Happy While United medals as gifts to Native American Indian chiefs. The medals utilized Benjamin Franklin's motto "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God," along with Scot's 1778 revised Virginia Seal design.
Scot moved to Philadelphia and announced his arrival with newspaper advertisements in May of 1781, listing his engraving shop at the corner of Vine and Front Streets. He began engraving for Robert Morris, then Superintendent of the Office of Finance of the United States, in July 1781. Robert Scot was commissioned Chief Engraver of the United States Mint on November 23, 1793, after the tragic death of non-commissioned engraver Joseph Wright from the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.
The Coinage Act of 1792 mandated design requirements for United States coins, including an obverse "emblematic of liberty" and a reverse with "the figure or representation of an eagle." Scot's initial coinage designs included the Liberty Cap half cent and the Flowing Hair silver coins. In 1795, Scot engraved designs for the first gold coins of the U.S. Mint that included a drapery for Miss Liberty. The drapery was continued with silver coins starting in 1795, with the famous Draped Bust design. After several reverse issues for silver and gold coins with small eagle designs, Scot introduced the Heraldic Eagle reverse in 1796, a modification of the Great Seal of the United States.
During the years 1807-1817, Assistant Engraver John Reich was employed by the United States Mint, and engraved the coin designs of those years. Robert Scot did all of the coinage die engraving at the United States Mint from Reich's resignation until his death on November 3, 1823. Scot was succeeded as Chief Engraver of the United States Mint by William Kneass on January 29, 1824.