Archive for July, 2011

medal dies

Dies on the production floor,
Medallic Art Company

Once medal dies are made, they are rather permanent. They last a long time. And once the initial issue of medals are struck from those dies there is always the possibility those same dies can be used to strike again. This is a decided advantage for award medals.  But it may a disadvantage for other dies, as their very existence creates invitations to be struck at some later time.

There is a vast terminology for the reuse of dies. It involves several factors that determine the exact term. Factors such as authority, legality, type of manufacture, and intent of the issuer all bear consideration.  Here are the six most used terms for reusing dies:

  • Reissue.  A second or repeated issue, after a lapse of time, by an authorized issuer, struck from original dies, and with only a slight change, if any, in form or price.
  • Restrike.  A numismatic item struck from original dies but at a later time than the original issue – coins struck in a year later than the date they bear, medals struck after an interval of time and regular issuing has ceased.
  • Replica.  A copy of a numismatic or medallic item, similar to but differing somewhat from the original piece.
  • Reproduction.  A copy of a medallic item made with or without authority from new models and dies or in a different media or composition, usually in poorer quality than the original item.
  • Revision.  A second or subsequent design replacing a prior design not considered satisfactory for further reproduction.
  • Reworked.  A die, design or model in which additional touching up is done after it has once been used or accepted.

The permanency of dies is exhibited by the fact some 400-year old dies of Papal medals have been resurrected to be used anew to strike fresh medals. Old dies tend to become brittle so care must be taken in their reuse. Also, old dies often exhibit sinking – the preferred term is sunken die since it happened in the past – where the striking surface becomes compacted, recessed, and uneven from long use.

Papal medals often exhibit these domed, uneven surfaces because they are struck over long periods of time.  They are in demand to chronicle Papal portraits from centuries in the past.

The Paris Mint apparently never discards a die. It still has some that were created in the 1400s. It stores these on heavy mobile shelving that move on tracks like railroad tracks.

On occasion it has restruck selected early dies from their die vault for a series it calls “original dies” through their Le Club Francais de Medaille. Dies as early as mid 1600s have been struck obverse and reverse side-by-side in soft tin rectangular plates. Each piece is serially numbered in a series limited to 300 such strikes.

The soft tin is capable of obtaining an impression from the old and brittle dies, without fear of breaking. However, the tin is not a medium for creating permanent specimens. The tin is so soft a fingernail will dent it deeply; extreme care must be exercised in handling these pieces as anything heavier than a paper clip dropped on them – or dropping the item itself – will damage it extensively.

In normal custom the Paris Mint encourages world medallic artists to submit models in which it selects those to issue in medallic form. These are kept “in stock” and restruck whenever the previous press run has been exhausted. Only in the last decade have then added the actual year it was struck on the edge. But the term “Paris Mint restrike” is rampant among collectors of Paris Mint medals.

The disposition of dies is a major problem whenever a medal maker goes out of business or wishes to downsize.  The present writer has been involved in several of these.

August C. Frank Company.  This medallic firm in Philadelphia, founded 1894, was purchased by Don Schwartz September 11, 1972. The third generation owners wanted to keep part of the business (sprinkler manufacturing) but wanted to sell off the medal business. Schwartz contracted for the shipment of all the dies to Medallic Art’s plant in Danbury.

The trucker emptied all the dies into 55-gallon drums and loaded these on his flat bed truck. He finished on a Friday and delivered the shipment on Monday. Unfortunately it snowed over the weekend. The open drums were filled with snow which melted and the drums contained water in addition to the metal dies.

I had the chore to inventory the dies. Fortunately, Medallic Art hired a retired August Frank employee, William Neithercott, to assist me. We commandeered the heat treating department, dumped out the water-soaked dies on the floor and picked up rusted dies, brushing off the rust until we could identify the design on the dies.  We placed similar dies in cardboard boxes, until we could match obverse and reverse. We filled hundreds of cardboard boxes, mostly labeled with topical subjects of the die’s design.

[Contact with an old-time August Frank employee did have some benefit. I interviewed him on several occasions to learn some interesting technology. One of which was how the Philadelphia Mint (and medal makers in Philadelphia) applied a patina to a medal to obtain the famed  “mahogany finish” of the 19th century This was published in Robert Julian’s book, Medals of the United States Mint, The First Century, page 35-36 in the Introduction.]

Note: Mahogany Finish is a double-heating process that was employed by the  United States Mint and private medal makers in the Philadelphia area in the last half of the 19th century. It provided a deep, dark patina finish which ranged from chocolate brown to red-brown, It resembled mahogany wood, hence the name. To create such a desired color a medal was heated until cherry red, picked out of the fire with tongs, doused in cotton-seed oil, then covered with powdered red lead, which adhered to both sides. It was placed back in the fire for a second time for a prescribed time reaching the color desired.

Greenduck Company.  This Chicago firm, founded 1906, got its name from its two founders, George G. Greenburg (formerly with Childs & Company) and Harvey Ducgheisel, choosing the name Greenduck as the first syllable of these two men’s last names, intending it to be one word. However so many people used it as two words, it was adopted as two words by the company as well (date unknown).

William U. Watson, president, sold the company in 1962 to ERO Industries, Birmingham, England, which moved it from Chicago to Hernando, Mississippi. It was sold again in 1976 to Memphis businessman Elliot Sklar. Even after introducing new products, as casino tokens and Mardi Gras doubloons, the firm could not sustain further operations and went out of business 2004.

In the mid 1980s an agent of the firm contacted me. They wanted to dispose of a large segment of their dies. I devised a plan, submitted it to them, but the management took no action.

My plan was based to two premises:  Every collector should own at least one pair of dies – to understand how coins and medals are made – and everyone who owns a die wants it struck in new items, often in a number of compositions.

I suggested offering selected sets of dies, at auction, with the proviso of having a small number, say no more than 20, of certain soft metal compositions up to maybe bronze. But never in the same composition of what it was originally issued. I wanted to maintain the integrity of the original issue whatever composition in which it was struck – I did not want to replicate existing specimens.

I assume the dies were scrapped when the firm went out of business in 2004.

The concept of copies – using existing dies or making new ones – is always suspicious. The intent is most important. Also to be considered is authorization, quality of workmanship, and how the copies are made: cast, struck, electrotype, or other. Below are listed 13 different kinds of copies, arranged somewhat in order of legality.

Deluxe Copy – Made with authority for sale to the recipient only in better materials or workmanship than the original (as a decoration prepared in a more precious metal – it was issued in silver, but the recipient may order it made in gold at his own expense).

Custom Copy – Made with authority for sale as a second or subsequent

copy (say for a second uniform) or to replace a lost original, or other official use; a custom order usually of one made by original maker and dies. Called replacement medal or sometimes jeweler’s copy.

Reissue – Copy made with authority after lapse of time without change from original issue and reuse of original dies to strike a new piece or a new production run.

Revision – Copy made with authority and with a change of design no matter how minute, requiring retooling the original dies or creating entirely new copy dies. Such change might be a new date, new logo, change of sponsor’s name, correct a design error, or similar reason.

Replica – Made with authority where a major portion of the previous design

is used to make a new coin or medal. Replication is the most common form of copy making. No unauthorized use here, and new dies or molds are used to make the new issue.

Collectors’ Copy – Made with authority for sales primarily to collectors or public; these copies are usually electrotypes (as copies sold by museums of specimens in their collections).

Reproduction – Made without authority and reproduced in a new model or composition. A large gray area of legality.

Facsimile – Copy without authority, closely resembling the original and made by any method, as costume jewelry medals.

Private Copy – Made without authority for private use; these copies are usually cast in plaster or metal and if sold may be questionable status (study copies cast in plaster for scientific or scholarly study are certainly legal; private metal copies in off metal are a gray area, but copies the same as the original are outright forgeries).

Imitation – Copy made without authority and technically not illegal; usually of poor quality, or a souvenir status (to be given away), or play money (as child’s play copies, or play coins).

Restrike – Copy made without authority from original dies at a later date (and often in deteriorated state, as struck from cracked or rusted dies).

Forgery – Copy made without authority and with intent to deceive.

Counterfeit – Copy made without authority and with intent to deceive and defraud both collectors and the public. Fake and spurious also denote a counterfeit status.

Study copies mentioned above have long history in the numismatic field. Copies made in plaster-of-Paris have been made by collectors and by museums. The American Numismatic Society formerly had a lady employee who made these for anyone for a fee. It is like a photograph, but in three dimensions. The British Museum employed one family – the Readys – who made electrotype copies of objects in their collections including rare coins, cast in copper! Over two generations, father and sons made more than 20,000 such copies.

Modern problems.  The big problem today are copies from China. There are hundreds of such small manufacturers of copies in China, usually of coins with a value over $100. They make copy dies and use high grade metal to match existing coins. The quality is so close to originals that it is affecting the entire coin field.

In 1973 I found a belt-buckle at a flea market with an exact design from one of the Society of Medalists issues.  It was made by the Bergamot Brass Works as I recall. I showed it to Bill Louth who wrote the company and stated that was a copyrighted design and the property of Medallic Art. The firm responded they had overlooked the copyright mark, and agreed to destroy the mold and all existing castings. Problem solved.

For medals, copies are not that severe a problem. At least not yet. In handling perhaps a quarter million medals over the last 60 years I estimate I have experienced less than ten serious medal copies. Most of these were copies of Inaugural Medals, one of Olympic medals, and one of the Society of Medalists designs made into a belt buckle.

For the web site of Medal Collectors of America I stated:  “Fakes and copies [of medals] do exist, just as in coins. Copies of coins are made by crooks. Copies of medals are often made by museums for serious numismatists to study.”


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Loonie bin

Loonie bin. Photo by Nick Brancaccio,
The Windsor Star

I wrote a filler piece for one of the medal collector publications last week, inspired by a photograph taken at a Canadian coin show. The news photo displayed a senior collector pawing through what we call a “Junk Box” in America. In Canada, I noticed the sign called the plastic tote box filled with numismatic flotsam a “Loonie Bin.”

Such a box is undoubtedly called a Loonie Bin because the dollar coin in Canada bears a common loon bird and the coin has earned the nickname “loonie.” All the numismatic items in that bin are priced at a dollar.

Maybe the price has increased since I was a medal dealer 25 years ago, or maybe the price in Canada is that much higher. But I used to sell items out of my junk box for 50 cents each or three for a dollar. Many dealers have an equivalent of a “junk  box” or “loonie bin” today to dispose of cheap items that do not justify describing or cataloging or pricing individually.

For this report I would like to identify the characteristics of what ends up in a junk box. What numismatic items — what medals — have such a low secondary market value that their worth is so low, that collectors will not buy such an item unless the item is priced at drastically reduced price.

I will attempt to recall what I placed in my junk box decades ago. By doing so I will point out the characteristics of a medal that will keep a medal from ending up in a “loonie bin.” Here’s what I recall.

U.S. Mint’s mini-medals.  Introduced in the 1980s under Mint Director Mary Brooks’ direction, the Mint closed out all the 3-inch presidential medals and replaced these with a 1 ½-inch medal struck on coining presses. This required all 40 odd presidential medals to be remodeled with low relief patterns made into new dies to be able to strike large quantities on coining presses.

“We did it for the kids,” Mary Brooks said repeatedly. We ended up at the same banquet table at a convention one year and I asked her what she was most proud of during her administration at the mint. It was those mini medals “for the kids.”

By eliminating a legitimate medal series of substantial size and heritage, she was instrumental in replacing it with a series of far lesser substance, struck in large quantities. And lower value. Her mini medals for kids ends up in dealers’ junk boxes.

Sports medals.  Here are all the medals obtained from trophy houses. They are stock medals supplied to trophy shops around the country. It seems sports promoters want the cheapest medals possible to award the winners of their events. Some of these medal makers that manufacture these medals tout that their medals can be sold at less than $2 each.

Without specific identity as to date or event, these medals have no permanent validity to anyone except perhaps the recipient. They end up in dealers’ junk boxes when those medals find their way to the secondary market.

Religious medals.  Catholics around the world are encouraged to wear a medal for religious reasons. Excellent. Good cause. Glad that a medal can be an intimate daily reminder of one’s spiritual life and devotion. However, these are available in such large quantity, singular design – Virgin Mary – and small size that they lack interest among collectors.

Once I received a religious medal collection from a lady in a nearby town. She had inherited the collection from an aunt who had run a bar in an Eastern seacoast town. She collected religious medals, all those Virgin Mary medals from her patrons. Seamen gathered these all over the world and brought them to her. She exchanged a drink for each one.

I had to tell the new owner it would take me years, decades, to sell those medals. And it would have to be through my junk box. I could not offer her a dime apiece for all those medals.

Play coins.  Until a few years ago, play coins had no interest among collectors. These are imitation coins, cheaply made, for instructing children to learn about real coins and how to use them properly. They were first made in Germany, called spielmarken, even in imitation of other counties coins. American play coins were popular.

Then a book was published listing all the varieties. This gave the series some collector interest. The German made, embossed metal shells, were then sought after. But all others, mostly cardboard with printed images or plastic in color, had no enduring value. Into the junk box.

Trademark and seal medals.  Some businesses have ordered medals that bear their trademark or logo. That’s it. Only their trademark. Nobody wants these. They lack meaning unless the other side has some event or person, or even some product featured. Same for seals, unless it is an early seal. Some seals are so detailed they have a charm of their own from, perhaps, a heraldic significance. But modern, stand alone trademark medals go right into the junk box.

Aluminum medals.  Prior to 1890 aluminum was a costly metal. It requires a lot of electric current to purify the metal from its ore. Once electricity became readily available aluminum became a cheap metal. It replaced tin and lead for cheaply made medals.

Today aluminum is widely used for the lowest cost die struck items. Tokens and giveaways, promotional pieces and trade items. Not worth more than a dollar, into the junk box it goes.

Elongated cents and wooden nickels.    While not medals, these items are a large component of junk boxes. They are easily printed or rolled out, cheaply made.

Low condition medals.  Medals that are holed, dented, scratched, corroded or otherwise downgraded in condition are candidates for the junk box unless it is a very valuable medal. Even that item will be considered a filler until it can be replaced as soon as a better specimen can be obtained to replace it.

Graffiti items also fall in this category. “My dad won this” scratched in an award medal drops the value where it cannot be sold anything more than junk box price.

What are the characteristics then that keep a medal from ending up in a junk box?

Here are the red flags. This includes all factors — its composition, how it is struck, how the dies are made, and, of course, the attractiveness, appeal or significance of its design.

  • Is it cheaply made in the first place? If so it is likely to be valued even more cheaply on the secondary market.
  • Is it struck on a coining press? This often implies large quantity at a cost lower than if it is struck on a medal press.
  • Are the dies cut by tracer controlled or 3D mechanically methods? The craftsman operating these machines are generally not artists. Its mechanical design is often flat and frozen, lacking realism or the vitality a medallic artist can work into a design prepared by creating that design oversize and pantographically reducing it to the required size die for striking.
  • Is it designed by a factory artist?  These artists are usually more concerned with time, meeting a deadline and producing a quantity of work within a certain period. This demand often lacks enough time to reflect on the design at hand, to give it the proper reflective consideration to obtain an inspired theme and image.
  • Is it struck in a “medallic” composition?  Bronze, silver or gold, or even some others, but never aluminum, pot metal or similar.
  • Does it have a legitimate reason for being issued?  The more popular the event or person portrayed on the medal, the more popular the medal. If this lacks strong appeal, the medal will not appeal to collectors.

The field of medallic art is a unique field among all aspects of Art, of all other art forms. It has characteristics that are not present in other art fields. It has the ability to present a great amount of detail in a small space. Its end product is a hard, permanent, portable form of dual sides. It has the ability to outlast all other art forms – its longevity is greater than all other forms of art.

Ideal for memorializing and commemorating, medals have the characteristic of being miniature works of art that are enjoyed by individuals close up, held in the hand for viewing at eye level within intimate distance. Medals can be charming, satirical, compelling, attractive, that document a vision  in an artist’s mind.

What they shouldn’t be is cheap. If so they are destined for the loonie bin.

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Great Pyramid Calendar Medal

Great Pyramid Calendar Medal

Q: What kind of medal  has a very high utilitarian value but at the end of the year that usefulness drops to near
zero, but its collector interest increases as it becomes widely sought after as a collectable?

A:  Calendar medals.  Medallic items where a calendar (of 12 or 6 months) is incorporated into the design with a theme significant for that year. These items of ephemeral nature are omitted from some national catalogs because of that lack of lasting utility, but that is part of their charm. They are collected because they exist.

First issued in the 17th century, hundreds of different designs have been employed to accompany the calendar images. No single nation has monopolized the calendar medal. They have been issued around the world.

National mints of Austria, Japan, France – and private mints elsewhere – are currently issuing calendar medals, often in an on-going series. Themes for these medals have, of course, included Zodiac, astrological symbols, sundials, hour glasses and such time-related devices.

Medallic Art Company – when it first issued a calendar medal – took a different tack, however. It commissioned sculptors to create an art medal with a strong theme, then work the design around a reserve, the open space in the artist’s reverse model where the calendar months would be added. The calendar dates were placed in the die by figure punches applied by a highly talented hand engraver.

While the final calendar medal product took on the mantle of a miniature work of art, often of a charming nature, the technology in creating it was outstanding. Not only did it require an innovative design, but also a competent bas-relief modeler of that design, plus hand engraving of incredible precision. Each was a marriage of sculptor and craftsman, of artists and machine operators.

Sculptor Frank Eliscu created that first calendar medal for 1975. He chose a theme of forest animals, a deer and faun on one half hemisphere, an owl and owlet on the other. The scenes contrasts the seasons, summer and winter, but unites the universal theme of parent and offspring. Poses by the same animal subjects are shown on the reverse.  That is great medallic design!

Medallic Art’s calendar medal series continued the following year but by a new sculptor-artist, Marcel Jovine. The obvious theme for that American Bicentennial year, 1976, was the American Revolution Bicentennial.  So appealing was Jovine’s design, and so popular was the sale of that medal, he was commissioned to create the following year’s calendar medal as well.

Thus began decade and a half custom, a relationship with this artist to create every calendar medal for the medal issuing firm. Later the artist told this writer, “I liked doing the yearly calendar medal. I could count on receiving this commission. I had a whole year to think about the theme of the next year’s medal.”

Perhaps the artistic bubbling up in the sculptor’s mind for a year’s time made his medallic designs so appealing, so charming, so desirable. They continued each year from 1976 to 1990, save one, in 1984.

Here are the themes of Marcel Jovine’s Medallic Art Calendar Medals (with that exception of 1984, by Ed Grove):

1979 Sailing Ships

1979 Sailing Ships

1976 – American Revolution Bicentennial
1977 – Salute to Old Glory
1978 – Zodiac
1979 – Sailing Ships
1980 – Olympic Winter Games
1981 – History of Flight
1982 – Dreamer of Dreams
1983 – American Automobile
1984 – Natural World [by Ed Grove]
1985 – Rime of the Ancient Mariner
1986 – Statue of Liberty
1987 – Eagle
1988 – Carousel
1989 – Pegasus
1990 – Great American Circus

Jovine alone chose the theme in for each of these medals. Some were the major event of that year, Olympic Games, American Bicentennial, making them an obvious choice. Others were anniversary years, as the 200th anniversary of the American flag, or centennial of the Statue of Liberty. Still others were just artistic opportunities, as the Unicorn in Dreamer of Dreams.

After a hiatus of two years, Bob Hoff restarted the series of calendar medals, issued by Medallic Art under his administration. The initial five years bore a continuity of Life in Selected Environments theme, followed by the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

1993 – Sea Life
1994 – Jungle Life
1995 – Mountain Life
1996 – Pond Life
1997 – Farm Life
1998 – Great Pyramid
1999 – Hanging Gardens
2000 – Zeus Statue at Olympia
2001 – Unknown
2002 – Temple of Artemis
2003 – Colossus of Rhodes.

Other American firms have produced calendar medals as could be expected. This included Franklin Mint, Medalcraft, Hoffman & Hoffman. We leave it to the reader’s opinion, however, if these medallic productions rose to the high level of creativity set by Medallic Art’s calendar medal artists.

At present, the numismatic and medallic fraternity is waiting for a numismatic scholar, George Fuld, to finish his catalog of this collecting topic. He wrote on calendar medals in his monthly column in The Numismatist, January 1956 to February 1974.

Fuld was founder and first president of the Token And Medal Society. He has been collecting calendar medals for five decades. His book on the subject will undoubtedly be a standard work of the subject.

Below is a list of Calendar Medals from Dick Johnson’s Databank of American Artists of Coins and Medals that he furnished to author Fuld to include in his up-coming book.

Calendar Medals In Dick Johnson’s Databank

ANGELINI, Dominic  (1923-  ) sculptor.
Born Camden, New Jersey, 20 November 1923.
Staff sculptor at Franklin Mint.
     Calendar Medal Series:
1981 Rip Van Winkle Medal (designed by Al Fiorentino,
modeled by Dominic Angelini). . . .  FM CAL-12
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 33:1444

BLAKER, Clayton  ( ) sculptor.
On sculpture staff, Franklin Mint.
Signs models lower case CB.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1973 Tree of Time Calendar Medal. . . . . . . . . .  FM CAL-4
Auctions:. .CAL 33:1434; PCA 55:1688, PCA 57:1887,
PCA 70:1341. PCA 71:1417

Di LORENZO, Joseph  (1920-2001) sculptor, medalist.
Born Metuchen, New Jersey, 4 March 1920.
Signed models JDL initials or monogram.
One of America’s most productive medalists.
Member: National Sculpture Society.
Winner 1983 National Sculpture Society Lindsey
Morris Prize for best bas-relief (including medallic art).
Died Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 30 October 2001.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1981 Medallic Art Company Flight Calendar Medal . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  J&J 24:476

ELISCU, Frank  (1912-1996) sculptor, medalist.
Born New York City, 13 July 1912.
Died Sarasota, Florida, 19 June 1996.
Fellow, President: National Sculpture Society.
Member: National Academy of Design.
Winner Medal of Honor National Sculpture Soc, 1987.
Most famous work: Heisman Football Trophy statue.
    Medallic Art Calendar Medals:
1975 Animal Life Calendar Medal [first in series] MAco 74-121
Auctions:. . . . . CAL 29:459, CAL 32:1673, CAL 33:1437,
CAL 35:452; J&J 8:1294-1295, J&J 12:340; PCA 53:1612,
PCA 54:1848, PCA 55:1689
1991 Forest Animals Calendar Medal (obv of 1975 medal, die
1974-121, muled with 1991 calendar) . . . . . . . . . . MAco
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , PCA 71:1462

EVERHART, Don II  (1949- ) sculptor, medalist.
Full name: Donald Nelson Everhart II.
Born York, Pennsylvania, 19 August 1949.
Sculptor in residence Franklin Mint, 1974-1980.
Appointed to U.S. Mint January 5, 2004.
Signs models lower case DE.
Member: National Sculpture Society
Member (officer): American Medallic Sculpture Assn.
Member: Fédération Internationale de la Médaille.
Member: American Numismatic Association.
Member: American Artists Professional League.
Awarded: American Numismatic Association Sculptor
of the Year, 1994.
Awarded: National Sculpture Society Prize for Reliefs
& Medals (Society of Medalists #106 Dance Dolphins) 1985.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1976 Franklin Mint Calendar Art Medal . . . . . . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 50:502, PCA 71:1427
1984 Dance of Dolphins Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . .
Auctions: . . . . . CAL 29:466; PCA 64:2067, PCA 67:947,
PCA 71:1444, PCA 71:1463-1464
Collection: American Numismatic Society. . . . 1985.50.1
Illustrated: PCA 53 Presidential Art Auction Cat, p. . 2
1992 Sea Life Calendar Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1993 Sea Offers Calendar Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 69:1766
Collection: American Numismatic Society. . . . 1993.69.3
1995 Erte Women Calendar Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Exhibited: Hands Across The Sea (AMSA 2001-2002) . .  32
1996 Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Collection: American Numismatic Society. . . . 1996.92.1

FIORENTINO, Al  (1913-1985) designer.
Born 13 January 1913.
Died Verona, New Jersey January 1985.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1981 Rip Van Winkle Medal (designed by Fiorentino,
modeled by Dominic Angelini). . . .  FM CAL-12
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 33:1444

GORZELANCZYK, Melody  ( ) designer.
    Medalcraft Mint Calendar Series:
1995 Calendar Medal (obv design by Melody Gorzelanczyk,
both sides modeled by Virginia Janssen). . . . . . .

GROVE, Edward Ryneal  (1912-2002) sculptor, medalist,
engraver, painter, Engraver U.S. Mint, 1962-1965.
Born Martinsburg, West Virginia, 14 August 1912.
Signed models ERG monogram or initials.
Fellow: National Sculpture Society.
Awarded: J. Sanford Saltus Medal for Medallic Art by
American Numismatic Society, 1985.
Winner 1967 National Sculpture Society Lindsey Morris
Prize for best bas-relief (including medallic art).
Member: American Medallic Sculpture Association.
Died Chatsworth, Florida, 19 November 2002.
    Medallic Art Calendar Medal Series:
1984 Natural World Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . MAco 1984-115
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . .  PCA 60:1627, PCA 70:1352

GUNZER, Gladys  (1939- ) sculptor, medalist.
Married name Mrs Richard Sheridan Gunzer.
Born North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, 12 November 1939.
On staff Medallic Art Co, 1974-1989, freelance thereafter.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1982 John Deere Tractor Calendar Medal. . . . . . . Medalcraft?
1984 Louisiana World’s Exposition Calendar
Medal. . . . . .   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MAco 1983-204
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 29:467
2001 Year 2001 Medal (obverse by Gunzer). . . . .  Medalcraft

HANSON, Charles H.  ( ) engraver, founder of firm bearing his name, Chicago.
Produced large number of medals for Chicago World’s Fair
(1892-3) and frequently muled dies.
More than 800 of his firm’s medals in collections of
American Numismatic Society.
1892 Columbus Santa Maria Perpetual Calendar
Medal. . . . . . . . .  Rulau C30, Storer 113, Eglit 67,
Fuld N.CO.2, Springfield 4612

JACOBUS, Peter H.  (c1836-c1904) German-American engraver,
diesinker, Philadelphia.
Born in Prussia about 1836.
Came to America and Philadelplhia before 1852.
Partner in engraving firm Jacobus & Schell (1856-59)
with John J. Schell. On his own after 1860. He engraved
a crossbelt plate for several military organizations for
Civil War and after.  He was captain in 2nd Regiment,
Pennsylvania National Guard. Philip Jacobus (q.v.)
also an engraver, was a younger brother of Peter’s.
Listed in city directories until at least 1904, but his
date of death still remains unknown.
Should not be confused with German miniaturist of 15th
century, Jacobus, who produced medallions on bindings.
Signed some dies with initials PHJ.
1858 Washington (George) Perpetual Calendar Medal . Baker 386
Collection: American Numismatic Society. .  1932.999.849
1858 Washington (George) Perpetual Calendar Medal . Baker 387
Auctions:. . .  CAL 29:795; J&J 10:1053; PCA 45:483-484,
PCA 47:1586, PCA 55:909, PCA 58:1273, PCA 63:1138,
PCA 65:1271, PCA 69:1271
Collection: American Numismatic Society . 0000.999.39340
1855 Washington (George) New York Calendar Medal Mule
(Joseph Levine attrib to Jacobus or B. True) . Baker 610
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 44:85
1855 Washington (George) Pennsylvania Calendar Medal Mule
(Joseph Levine attrib to Jacobus or B. True) . Baker 611
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 44:86
1858 Washington (George) Perpetual Calendar . . . . Baker 387
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 44:481, PCA 70:1069

JANSSEN, Virginia  (1962- ) engraver, sculptor, medalist.
Married name: Virginia Joan Janssen-Gallus.
Born Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 12 February 1962.
Studied: University of Colorado, Boulder, BFA 1985.
School of Medallic Art, Zecca Mint, Rome, diploma 1990.
Employed: sculptor-engraver at Medalcraft Mint, in
Green Bay, Wisconsin, March 1992–26 January 1996.
Operates: Small Reliefs Sculpture Studio, Nov 1996–.
Signs models: VJ initials or monogram, last name in full.
Taught Art of Engraving at one-week and one-day seminars
at numismatic organizations, American Numismatic Assn
(Colorado Springs) and American Numismatic Soc (NYC).
Submitted design for new U.S. dollar coin Nov-Dec 98.
Member: American Medallic Sculpture Association.
Member: FIDEM
    Medalcraft Mint Calendar Series:
19xx Day and Night Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . .
Exhibited: AM6 {1994} AMSA The New Medal Exhibit . . 126
1993 Medal (obv by Steven Adams; rev by Janssen). . . . .
1994 Medal (both sides by Janssen). . . . . . . . . . . .
1995 Medal (obv design by Melody Gorzelanczyk, both sides
modeled by Janssen). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

JOVINE, Marcel  (1921-2003) medalist, sculptor.
Born Naples, Italy, 26 July 1921. Came to America
first as a prisoner of war, repatriated to Italy, returned
in 1946, naturalized as a citizen 195?
His 1987 Constitution Bicentennial Commemorative Five
Dollar gold won a COTY, Coin Of The Year award (from
Krause Publications) for Most Historical Significant coin.
The United States Mint treated Jovine in progressively
shabby manor. His first coin models (1987) were accepted
intact for both sides (and won a CODY award, historical
significant; see above). The following year only his reverse
was accepted to allow Elizabeth Jones to do the obverse.
In 1990 his reverse only was accepted but was altered by
a staff engraver. In 1992 an Olympic reverse was accepted,
but in 1995 an Olympic reverse model was completely
remodeled by William Cousins. He decided to try again,
in 2001, but his design was merged with one of another
artist, Alex Shagin. This was the final indignity, and he
refused any further work for the Mint. For an artist who
was an exception designer of rare talent that submittled
professional models, this was a loss to the nation’s coins.
Fellow (and President): National Sculpture Society.
Member: American Medallic Sculpture Association.
Awarded: J. Sanford Saltus Medal for Medallic Art by
American Numismatic Society, 1984.
Winner 1977 National Sculpture Society Lindsey Morris
Prize for best bas-relief (including medallic art).
Officer (Ufficiali): Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus.
Died Greenwich, Connecticut, 20 January 2003.
    Medallic Art Calendar Medal Series:
(Jovine would model both sides leaving a large area blank,
called a “reserve” for the dates and months of the calendar;
after the die is cut it would be sent to John Oliva at Carva,
in NYC, who would hand punch in all the dates of the year,
In effect hand cutting the reserve area of the die, which would
be hardened after he finished and returned the die to MACO.)
1976 American Revolution Bicentennial Calendar
Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .. MAco 1975-134
Auctions:. . . . . .  CAL 28:191, CAL 29:461, CAL 32:1674;
J&J 8:52, J&J 8:1296, J&J 10:111, J&J 11:265, J&J 13:209,
J&J 16:1134, J&J 18:320, J&J 19:523, J&J 21:138,
J&J 23:274; PCA 44:1518, PCA 59:1947, PCA 63:1957,
PCA 67:942, PCA 68:651, PCA 70:1343
Collection: American Numismatic Society. . .  1987.53.74
Exhibited: AE8 {1977} NSS 44th Exhibition cat, illus  94
Illustrated: P21 The Art Medalist 1:5 (October 1975) p 2
Illustrated: P21 The Art Medalist 1:6 (December 1975)p 6
Illustrated: P21 The Art Medalist 2:4 (July 1976)p 1, 16
1977 Salute to Old Glory Calendar Medal . . . . . . MAco 1976-171
Auctions:. . . . . CAL 28:193, CAL 32:1675, CAL 33:1439,
CAL 35:454; J&J 8:1297, J&J 19:424, J&J 21:1154,
J&J 26:481; PCA 51:1118, PCA 53:1613
Collection: American Numismatic Society. . .  1977.178.1
1978 Zodiac Calendar Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .MAco  1977-107
Auctions:. . . . .  CAL 28:194, CAL 30:234, CAL 32:1676,
CAL 35:455; PCA 51:1119, PCA 52:1510,
PCA 53:1617. PCA 71:1438
Exhibited: AE8 {1978} NSS 45th Exhibition cat, illus  88
1979 Sailing Ships Tall and True Calendar
Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .MAco 1978-075
Auctions:. . . . . . CAL 28:195, CAL 29:460, CAL 30:235,
CAL 32:1679, CAL 33:1441, CAL 35:456; J&J 13:211,
J&J 18:321, J&J 19:525; PCA 51:1120, PCA 52:1511,
PCA 53:1618
Exhibited: AE8 {1979} NSS 46th Exhibition cat, illus
1980 Olympic Winter Games Lake Placid Calendar
Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gadoury 4, MAco 1979-80
Auctions:. . . . .  J&J 12:342, J&J 16:2186, J&J 19:526,
J&J 21:139; CAL 28:196, CAL 29:462, CAL 30:236,
CAL 32:1682, CAL 33:1442; PCA 52:1512, PCA 53:1623,
PCA 58:1972, PCA 60:1621, PCA 63:1963, PCA 71:1440
Exhibited: F.I.D.E.M. 19 Congress, Florence (1983)  1711
Illustrated: P4 {1979} TAMS Journal 19:6 (December)p 256
1981 History of Flight Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . MAco 1980-155
Auctions:. . . . . . J&J 19:527, J&J 23:275; CAL 28:198,
CAL 29:464, CAL 30:237, CAL 32:1683, CAL 33:1443;
PCA 52:1513, PCA 53:1624, PCA 60:1623
1982 Dreamer of Dreams Calendar Medal . . . . . . .MAco  1981-054
Auctions:. . . . .  CAL 30:238, CAL 31:193, CAL 32:1684,
CAL 33:1445; J&J 19:528; PCA 52:1514, PCA 53:1627,
PCA 66:1342, PCA 71:1442
Exhibited: AE8 {1981} NSS 48th Exhibition cat, illus 111
Illustrated: AF19 {1983} F.I.D.E.M. Catalog. . . . . . .  1712
1983 History of American Automobile Calendar
Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MAco  1981-203
Auctions:. . . . .  CAL 29:465, CAL 33:1446; PCA 71:1443
1985 Rime of the Ancient Mariner Calendar
Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. MAco  1984-179
Auctions:. . . .  PCA 52:1516, PCA 53:1629, PCA 64:2068,
PCA 67:948, PCA 71:1446
1986 Statue of Liberty Calendar Medal (also called Mother
of Exiles Calendar Medal). . . . . . . . . . . . MAco  1985-039
Auctions:. . . . .  CAL 28:17; PCA 52:1517, PCA 53:1630,
PCA 60:1632, PCA 64:2069, PCA 67:949, PCA 71:1450
Illustrated: F.I.D.E.M. Catalog (1987) 1431, p . . . 402
1987 Eagle Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  MAco  1986-175
Auctions:. .PCA 50:1549-1551, PCA 52:1518, PCA 60:1638,
PCA 65:1864, PCA 67:950, PCA 71:1451
Exhibited: AM3 {1988} AMSA Traveling Exhibition. . . p 5
Exhibited: F.I.D.E.M. 21 Congress, Colorado Spgs..  1430
1988 Carousel Calender Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .MAco  1988-251
(NB: This design also cut into 2 ½-inch for crystal pattern.)
Auctions:. . . . . PCA 61:1361, PCA 63:1970, PCA 71:1454
Exhibited: AM3 {1988} AMSA Traveling Exhibition. . . p 5
Exhibited: AF22 {1990} F.I.D.E.M. Exhibit, Helsinki.
Exhibited: AM4 {1990} AMSA Newark Museum Exhibit p 4
Illustrated: P8 Medallic Sculpture 6 (Fall 1990) page 23
1989 Pegasus Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..MAco  1987-252
Auctions:. . . . . PCA 52:1519, PCA 70:1362, PCA 71:1457
Exhibited: AF22 {1990} F.I.D.E.M. Exhibit, Helsinki.
Exhibited: AM4 {1990} AMSA Newark Museum Exhibit p 4
Illustrated: Sculpture Review 39:3 (3rd Quarter 1990) 17
1990 Great American Circus Calendar Medal . . . MAco 1989-330
Auctions:. . . . . PCA 52:1520, PCA 60:1644, PCA 71:1461
Exhibited: AF22 {1990} F.I.D.E.M. Exhibit, Helsinki.
Exhibited: AM4 {1990} AMSA Newark Museum Exhibit p 4
    Rockwell Society Calendar Series:
1979 Rockwell Society Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . .
Auctions: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PCA 44:1777
1980 Rockwell Society Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . .
Auctions: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PCA 44:1778
    R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S
P21 {1975} 200-Year Panorama of American Events Emblazen Bicentennial Medallic Art Calendar. The Art Medalist
1:5 (October 1975) p 3; 1:6 (Dec 1975) p 6; 2:4 (July 1976) cover, p 1, 16.

KITCHEN, W.W. (fl 1892) engraver.
    Shell Medals:
1892 Columbian Exposition Perpetual Calendar
Medal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Fuld Ki 4, Eglit 416
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 70:1250
                                       R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S
P2  {1958} Fuld. Calendar Medals and Store Cards. The Numismatist 71:6 (June 1958) Ki 4, p 684.
S14 {1963} Eglit, 416, p
S58 {1999} Rulau. Standard Catalog U.S. Tokens, p 479.
LAUSER, Ernest  (1917- ) sculptor.
Born Palmyra, Pennsylvania, 10 December 1917.
Began carving age 8 or 9; asst commercial artist 1925.
Won Proctor & Gamble soap carving contest in 1929.
Freelance 1945; employed Commercial Art Service 1958-65.
Employed at Franklin Mint as medallic sculptor, March
1969, until he retired, October 1978.
Signed models EL in caps.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1974 Franklin Mint Zodiac Calendar Art Medal. . . .  FM CAL-x
Auctions:. . .  CAL 30:232, CAL 33:1435, CAL 35:449-451;
J&J 26:480
1975 Franklin Mint Calendar Art Medal . . . . . . .  FM CAL-x
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  J&J 22:850
1977 Franklin Mint Calendar Art Medal . . . . . . .  FM CAL-x
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 33:1440; J&J 26:482

MALETSKY, Alfred F.  (1943- ) sculptor.
Staff engraver Franklin Mint. Staff engraver U.S. Mint.
Born Easton, Pennsylvania, 1943.
Attended Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and John
Hussian School of Art, studied painting, sculpture, graphics.
Joined Franklin Mint under William Cousins 1976.
Appointed sculptor-engraver U.S. Mint July 1993.
Twice won Coin Of The Year (COTY) Award 1998 for
the Paralympic Dollar and in 2001 for New Jersey quarter.
Calendar Medal Series:
1994 Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FM
Exhibited: AM6 {1994} AMSA New Medal Exhibit . . . . 143

MILLER, Vincent H.  ( ) sculptor.
On staff Franklin Mint.
Signed models VM in lower case with V extending over M.
    Calendar Series:
1977 Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  FM CAL-8
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 33:1440

PAINE, Richard  (ca 1807- ) engraver, Springfield, Mass.
Active in Springfield at least 1840-57 whose major business
activity was creating cameo stamps.
1853 Perpetual Calendar Medal (obv signed S. Smith, rev
R. Paine; made by A.S. & W.C. Ellis Manufacturers &
Electrotypers) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Storer 1695
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J&J 9:594

PERSON, I.B.  ( ) patentee.
1853 Calendar Medal (patented 1851 by Person) . . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  J&J 17:658

ROBERTS, Gilroy  (1905-1992) sculptor, engraver, Chief Engraver,
Philadelphia Mint, 1948-1964; Chief Engraver Franklin Mint
1965-92, Chairman of the Board 1965-72.
Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 11 March 1905.
Hired 3 June 1936 for engraving staff at U.S. Mint under John
R. Sinnock, on 6 January 1938 transfered to Bureau of Engraving
and Printing, to return to the U.S. Mint where he was appointed
Chief Engraver 22 July 1948. After serving in this capacity for
17 years he resigned 8 October 1964 at age 59.
His medallic output was in three distinct classes:
(1) government work struck by U.S. Mint (1948-1964),
(2) private issues mostly struck by Medallic Art Company
(1950-1967), (3) private issues struck entirely by
Franklin Mint (1965-1992).
Enticed to leave the U.S. Mint by Joseph Segal, founder
of the Franklin Mint, Roberts was named Chief Engraver
and Chairman of the Board of Franklin Mint. He headed an
engraving department for this private mint that was to grow
to over a two dozen full time staff members, and utilized the
freelance talents of more than 240 outside sculptors. Roberts
would often create the first medal of a new series (in 20 i
nstances) and other sculptors would do the remainder of the series.
He signed both coin and medal models with distinctive GR
monogram (but in 15 different styles, often with date).
His monogram on the Roosevelt dime was infrequently
mistaken for a Russian hammer & scythe by the uninformed.
Three U.S. Mint artists–Roberts, Frank Gasparro, Adam Pietz–
(and sculptor Micael Lantz) were the first American medalists
to have exhibited in a F.I.D.E.M. exhibition (1951).
Roberts was a member of the jury (1974) of the National
Bicentennial Competition which chose the three coin designs
for the reverses of the U.S. quarter, half and dollar coins (won
by Jack L. Ahr, Seth G. Huntington, and Dennis R. Williams,
qq.v.). Other jury members were: Adlai S. Hardin, Robert
Weinman, all sculptors, Julius Lauth, of Medallic Art Company,
and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, Smithsonian Institution numismatic
Member: National Sculpture Society.
Died Haverford, Pennsylvania, 26 January 1992.
His workshop was replicated after his death by the American
Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Many
of this tools, models, drawings, and works of art were placed
on loan to the association.
    Calendar Medal Series:
1967 Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . .  CAL 33:1432, CAL 35:448; PCA 63:1939
1968 Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . .  CAL 33:1533; PCA 63:1941
1972 Calendar Medal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 30:231; PCA 52:1509

SABIN, H.W.  (active 1853) engraver.
1853 Sabin’s New York World’s Fair Calendar Medal . . . .
Auctions: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  J&J 21:1146

SCHULE, Clifford  H.  ( ) sculptor.
On staff Franklin Mint.
Signed models with interlocking CS in caps.
    Calendar Medals:
1983 Father Time Franklin Mint Calendar Medal . . . FM CAL 14
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CAL 33:1447

SMITH, S.  (active 1853) designer, patentee.
1853 Perpetual Calendar Medal (made by A.S. & W.C. Ellis or
Ellis & Read, patented by S. Smith). . . . . Storer 1660, 1661
1853 Perpetual Calendar Medal (obv signed S. Smith, rev
R. Paine; made by A.S. & W.C. Ellis Manufacturers &
Electrotypers) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Storer 1695
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J&J 9:594
                                  R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S
M10 {1923} Storer (Massachusetts) 1660, 1661, p 215; 1695 219.

STOLP, M.G.  ( ) designer.
1892 World’s Fair Calendar Medal (copywrited by Stolp). .
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 52:1327

TRUE, Benjamin C.  (fl 1832-79) Early American engraver, diesinker,
seal engraver, letter cutter; Albany, New York (1823-38);
Cincinnati (1849-1879).
Listed in Albany first as letter cutter (1823-33) then
gunsmith, but left for Cincinnati in 1849. His Albany
business was carried on by relative Daniel True (q.v.).
Created what he called “Wealth of the South Series”
in effect stock dies for use by anyone. One obverse
was dominated by palmetto tree with bales, hogsheads,
cannon, cannonballs at base; others were portraits of
Abraham Lincoln, John Breckenridge, John Bell,
Stephen Douglas. Reverse design was symbolic
pastiche of rice, tobacco, sugar, cotton. These were
illustrated N35 {2002} Bowers, More Adventures,
p 289, 294-299.
Signed dies: T, TRUE F, and TRUE ALB (later in Albany).
1855 Pennsylvania Calendar Medal Mule (dealer Joseph Levine
suggests True or Peter Jacobus as artist). . . Baker 611
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 44:86
1855 Ohio Calendar Medal Mule (dealer Joseph Levine
suggests True or Peter Jacobus as artist). . . Baker 612
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 44:87
1858 Washington (George) Perpetual Calendar Medal . Baker 385
Collection: American Numismatic Society.  0000.999.39339
1858 Washington (George) Perpetual Calendar Medal . Baker 386
Auctions:. . . . . PCA 58:1272, PCA 63:1137, PCA 65:1270

TRUMBULL, John  (1756-1843) painter, designer.
Born Lebanon, Connecticut, 6 June 1756.
While in England he was commissioned to design the
three Washington Seasons Medals, struck by Soho Mint.
Four of his paintings in United States Capitol, including
Signing of the Declaration of Independence,
replicated on several medallic items (listed below).
His portrait on third American Art-Union Medal, 1849.
Died New York City, 10 November 1843.
    Replicas and Reissues:
(1857 ca) Perpetual Calendar Medal (George Washington on
horseback in Trenton from Trumbull painting) . Baker 386
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J&J 10:1052

WEISTROP, Elizabeth Nealon  (1916-1999) sculptor, medalist, painter.
Born 15 February 1916.
Signed models E.W. initials.
Member: National Sculpture Society.
Winner 1974 National Sculpture Society Lindsey Morris
Prize for best bas-relief (including medallic art).
Died Half Moon Bay, California, 23 March 1999.
1965 Equal Justice Under Law Medal. . . . . . . .  MAco 1965-46
Auctions:. . . . .  CAL 28:411, CAL 32:1826, CAL 35:697;
J&J 11:534, J&J 16:1616
    Replicas and Reissues:
1980 Equal Justice Under Law Calendar Medal (obv Weistrop’s
1965 obv of same name, muled with rev 1980
calendar by Marcel Jovine MAco 79-80). . . MAco  ?
Auctions:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCA 42:1154

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Veterans, are your military medals in a drawer somewhere? Do you even know where they are?  Your military service was rewarded by an appreciative government. The nation expresses that gratitude with medals – military medals and decorations.

There is a medal for each campaign in which you were engaged, for every theater of combat, for marksmanship, for good conduct, and a variety of other activities in which the citizens of this nation wanted to recognize your participation.

Purple Heart

The Purple Heart

An entire class of military decorations are awarded for exceptional duty and bravery for the nation to honor its heroes, all the way up to the Medal of Honor. And if you were injured in that service you were honored with a “wound medal,” in America, it’s the Purple Heart, one of the nation’s prestigious awards.

Frank Foster, president of Medals of America, a firm that frames military decorations, medals and insignia, encourages this practice, says “Bring your awards out of the shadows!”

That’s good advice!

You may have been issued medals before being discharged. If not, you are qualified for these medals and that fact remains in your military records. You can still obtain the medals to which you are qualified, at least one of each. There is no time limit to apply for these. We have all read newspaper accounts when some senior citizen receives his medals decades later.

The government honors your service. It stands by that commitment.

But what to do with those medals? Medals of America is a member of a small industry, all run by veterans, that frame those medals for you. If you have lost a medal they can replace it. They can include your insignia – to record your highest rank – or add your service ribbon, or add a favorite photograph if you wish, even include your Challenge Coin if your unit issued one. You will be asked for the wording on the nameplate along with the proper medals.

The frames come in an assortment of sizes, woods, and background colors to customize your frame. Start by going online at – MedalsofAmerica.com – and design your own frame. You see everything in full color before you send off your medals to them and place your frame order. There are separate frames for the American flag, or the triangular panel for a properly folded flag can be included with the frame of your medals.

This is how your military medals should be housed and displayed. Place the completed frame on the wall in your den or office. No longer in the shadows, it is visible for all to see, including yourself. The colorful ribbons and handsome medals make an attractive wall decoration. It will enhance your pride.

Just how valuable are your medals?  Money wise not a great deal. Most medals cost less than five or ten dollars. You can purchase a Purple Heart for $35. The more exotic decorations are more costly.

But it is not the money that makes these medals valuable. It’s the documentation, the physical record of your military service and the honorable awards you achieved. That framed collection of medals is a permanent artifact for generations to witness.

Your framed collection is easy to pass down to your descendants. Mention it in your will. If you have no descendants, instruct the executor of your estate to donate it to a local museum. They should preserve that fame, perhaps along with others, to record the military service of local citizens.

Medals have a very important characteristic of longevity. They last forever. That frame documents your service. That is why the nameplate is necessary. Along with your name include your branch of service, dates; list the campaigns if you wish. This is permanent documentation.

The frame serves to preserve the condition of the medals as well. The author was a dealer in medals for a decade and a half, dealing in all medals from all countries, decorations in addition to “table medals” – what collectors called medals that are not worn.

A customer wanted to know the value of a Panama Canal Medal he had inherited from an elderly uncle. It bore the portrait of Teddy Roosevelt and was designed by Victor D. Brenner, designer of the Lincoln Cent. He didn’t know how rare it was. The medal was badly nicked and pitted. “Where has this medal been?” I asked.

“I kept it in my fishing tackle box,” he said. Along with plugs and hooks. I had to tell him he put a $1,000 medal in his fishing tackle box, certainly not the best place for it, and took out a $200 medal. Its condition and value had been drastically lowered.

So use of frames will preserve the original condition.

Just as service personnel “preserve and protect” America in the military, in a statement by Ross Hansen, president of Medallic Art Company, maker of military medals, veterans should “preserve and protect their medals.”

Medallic Art’s connection with military medals goes back to World War I. The firm served sculptors, in fact the founders themselves were sculptors, Henri and Felix Weil. Another sculptor, James Earle Fraser, was commissioned to create the Victory Medal, to be given to ever person who served in that “Great War.”

Three million such medals were required. That’s a large order. Another sculptor, Herbert Adams, was hired by the Secretary of War to oversee that commission.

Fraser created his medal design in clay, nine to ten times the size of the intended medal, then he cast that in plaster for both sides. He brought these plasters to Medallic Art Company Weils, who made wax reductions on a machine they had imported from France.

Fraser had the Weils do this over and over until he was satisfied with his design. The Weils then made dies to strike sample medals to be turned over to the government. The Weils also helped write specifications as to how these medals were to be made.

The Weils also wanted to manufacture those medals for the great profits to be earned from striking so many medals. Dozens of firms were invited to bid. The Weils bid 75¢ each, where other firms bid as high as $1 each. But the contract went to a Newark metalstamping firm which had bid 17¢ each.

But the government learned a lesson. The quality of those World War Victory medals at 17¢ each were so poor the firm was never given another contract. In contrast, the Medallic Art Company was awarded contract after contract throughout the years, up to and following World War II where the size of the orders were for millions of medals.

In all, Medallic Art struck 58 different military medals and decorations for the U.S. government including the Congressional Medal of Honor. It worked with the Institute of Heraldry, which, for the most part, designed, oversaw, and ordered the medals. Medallic Art created all the tools, dies and punches needed for this detailed work. America’s military medals are some of the finest in the world.

The firm was so active in this business, now owned by an Indiana businessman, Clyde C. Trees, that Fortune magazine, in a June 1945 article, reported on this business, stating that Medallic Art was the leading producer of military medals among a group of New England firms striking medals for the military.

Ross Hansen learned of this military activity after he purchased Medallic Art Company in June 2010. Previously he was in the bullion business, dealing in precious metals. He needed to strike that bullion in a more convenient form than the heavy ingots used among the industry.

He built his own plant, Northwest Territorial Mint, in Auburn, Washington, to

mint one-ounce and similar bullion medals to accommodate investors with a more convenient form. These took the shape of tiny ingots, or more common circular form, called “rounds” for lack of a better term. Once he had an active mint he was asked to strike a challenge coin for a friend in the military.

This led to similar orders, until he became a major supplier of challenge coins to military units and individuals, stationed all over the world. Challenge coins had caught on in a big way as a popular practice in the military. Hansen established a shop in the Pentagon to service this medal business.

Everyone in the military, it seemed, was carrying a challenge coin, their own, or their unit’s custom coin, all the way up the chain of command. Chief Officers in all branches of the service, the Secretary of Defense, even the President of the United States, had their own challenge coin.

They were given to members of special units, or an individual could order his own. Soon they were exchanged, traded, until some individuals had sizeable collections. They make ideal additions to your own famed medals.

Woe be to the person who could not pull at least one challenge coin out of their pocket when challenged. If you forgot yours, you had to buy a round of drinks for all those who did.

Hansen was impressed by the military for which he now had great empathy. He knew his firm had once produced large quantities of medals and decorations. But two previous owners of the firm had not sought out this business. He visited the Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to learn more and learn why.

He learned that one of the major producers of military decorations, once Medallic Art was not soliciting this business, was Graco Industries of Tomball, Texas. Ross Hansen like the firm so well, he bought the company.

With headquarters at present in Auburn, Washington, Hansen now has seven locations throughout the United States for the manufacture of dies, medals of all kinds, and the sale of all such medallic items.

In contrast to some medal business emanating  overseas, particularly in China, Hansen stresses that medals produced by his firms are 100 percent made in America, at every step of production – from American artists to the processing of the metal composition, to the striking, fabricating, and packaging – is all performed in America.

For the American veteran, he can enjoy the knowledge of his American-made military medals in the frame on his wall are the finest in the world. That was worth fighting for!

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