Robert Scot, Engraver 1745-1823

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Robert Scot is little known outside of numismatics, but he was perhaps the most prolific and influential engraver in early America. I have researched Scot for more than a decade using archival sources, and have identified more than 800 engravings of Scot and his apprentices, including vast engravings of American patriotic iconography.

Scot was born in Canongate, Scotland on October 2, 1745. He was trained in copperplate line engraving under Richard Cooper, Sr. Scot was known to be in the colony of Virginia in January of 1775, where he engraved Virginia currency, using the radical Virginia Seal which depicted the overthrow of tyranny.

In 1780, Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson requested engraving of Indian Peace Medals from Robert Scot, using the motto "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God."

In 1781 Scot moved to Philadelphia and engraved paper money for Robert Morris in support of the American Revolution. Scot also engraved for American officers of the Continental Army, with several dedicated to General George Washington including a magnificent illustration of the Siege of Yorktown, the decisive battle of the American Revolution. He engraved a 1784 map of the US, based on the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Scot engraved the original die for the Great Seal of the United States.

Scot was instrumental in the growth of illustrated books in the United States, collaborating with many Scottish immigrant publishers. In 1790 he began engraving hundreds of copperplate illustrations for Thomas Dobson's Encyclopaedia. Scot itemized his work on invoices including planishing and polishing of copperplate (1.5 cents per square inch), the price of copper, engraving time, and printing cost.

Scot was commissioned Chief Engraver of the United States Mint on November 23, 1793, until his death of November 3, 1823. My research at the US National Archives uncovered a lengthy engraving report to Congress, an excerpt - "It may be necessary in this remark to enumerate (to the Committee on the Mint) what I think the actual duties of my office are. Viz. Engraving and sinking all Original Dies, raising and finishing all Hubbs that are struck out of them, and raising and finishing all punches that may be requisite to the completion of Dies or Hubbs; letter punches excepted; those may be imported or procured from those of that profession."

Robert Scot also engraved federal revenue stamps used to rebuild the US Navy under the direction of President John Adams, for the undeclared Quasi and First Barbary wars.

My book "Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty" is a comprehensive biography of Scot's life, his work, his family, and documents all of Scot's known engravings, with all archival sources referenced. I will post images of some of his engravings in another thread.
 

mitch

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"Scot itemized his work on invoices including planishing and polishing of copperplate (1.5 cents per square inch), the price of copper, engraving time, and printing cost."

seems like on some jobs i still make about that much...
 

Roger Bleile

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Mr. Nyberg,

Thanks for posting the above information. As historian of FEGA my focus is on gun engravers, nevertheless, I find information about any historic engraver very interesting. I plan to get a copy of your book about Scot.

Regards,
C. Roger Bleile
 
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#5
Old engravers have a lot to learn. The book is interesting.
Pan Mitch-s has excellent knives and the site is beautifully decorated.
 

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