Information about Victor David Brenner

Victor David Brenner (12 June 1871 - 5 April 1924)

Victor David Brenner (born Avigdor David Brenner) was a Litvak-American sculptor, engraver, and medallist known primarily as the designer of the United States Lincoln Cent.

Brenner was born to Jewish parents in ҆iauliai, Lithuania. His name at birth was Avigdor David Brenner ("Avigdor ben Gershon," in Hebrew, as his gravestone attests), but he changed the name to Victor David Brenner. He emigrated to the United States in 1890, living mostly in the New York City area. When Brenner arrived in America, he had little more to fall back upon except the trade taught him by his father - gem and seal engraving. This technical preparation included the tools of the sculptor's craft. He took night classes at Cooper Union. Brenner soon mastered English as he had mastered French.

Eight years later Brenner was in Paris, studying with the great French medallist, Oscar Roty at the Académie Julian. There he exhibited his work and obtained awards at the Paris Exposition of 1900. He returned to the United States, and from that time on his career prospered. He appeared to be on his way to the fulfilment of the splendid predictions made for his future by Rodin.

Brenner is probably best known for his enduring Lincoln coin design, the obverse of which is the longest-running design in United States Mint history, and perhaps the most reproduced piece of art in world history. Brenner's design had been picked by 26th U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, who had earlier posed for him in New York. Since arriving nineteen years earlier in the United States, Brenner had become one of the nation's premier medallists. Roosevelt had learned of Brenner's talents in a settlement house on New York City's Lower East Side and was immediately impressed with a bas-relief that Brenner had made of Lincoln, based on the early Civil War era photographer, Mathew Brady's photograph.

Roosevelt, who considered Lincoln the saviour of the Union, the greatest Republican President and also considered himself Lincoln's political heir, ordered the new Lincoln penny to be based on Brenner's work and that it be produced to commemorate Lincoln's 100th birthday in 1909. The likeness of President Lincoln on the obverse of the coin is an adaptation of a plaque Brenner executed several years earlier and which had come to the attention of President Roosevelt in New York.

Brenner died in 1924 and is buried at Mount Judah Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens County, New York.

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