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Archive for February, 2012

Clyde Curlee Trees, owner-president of Medallic Art Company, was a tenacious, persistent, head strong, perhaps stubborn man. He took on the United States government on two occasions. His stance was a correct position on both counts, but he lost on one, and the second wasn’t resolved – to the exact position he had embraced – until after his death.

If the phrase “You can’t fight City Hall” comes to mind, imagine the force the United States Government has to its advantage. Our medallic hero of this story did just that. He chose to fight instead of buckle under to such a superior force. The Little Guy never wins, only achieves a Hollow Victory at best. That occurred here.

Medal making in America had been closely allied with the United States Mint since the inception of that institution in 1792. Although records are sparse, the first medal struck by the United States Mint was for a private enterprise, Ricketts’s Circus, an equestrian performance show first held April 1793. (It is believed these medals were struck between 1793 and 1795, certainly while the Mint was still in its infancy. It is cataloged by Robert Julian as UN-23.)

Prior to this, all medals larger than two inches, had to be made in Europe. Even the United States Congress had to order medals struck in France for the medals they wished to bestow to General Washington and military heroes of the American Revolution. (These are all called “Comitia Americana” – ordered in France by the American Committee.)

Thus the custom of the United States Mint making medals for private – that is, nongovernmental – organizations had a long heritage. Societal organizations went to the Mint to have medals made for award purposes as early as 1808.  (Earliest: Washington Benevolent Society Medal, 1808, Julian RF-23).

America had no facilities to produce a medal of substantial size during the entire the first half of the 19th century, other than at the U.S. Mint. If the Mint couldn’t make it, the medal had to be produced in Europe.

Engravers existed in major cities – New York, Boston, Philadelphia – but most of their work was not large in either size or quantity. A cent shortage during the Civil War created a demand for small coin size tokens and this kept these private engravers busy for awhile. But the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was literally the only source for medals of importance to be struck.

[By mid-19th century heavy presses became available in America, at Scovill Manufacturing in Waterbury, Connecticut, but they did not solicit medallic work. If a difficult job came to the mint – as the award medals of the 1893 Columbian Exposition – the Mint subcontracted this work to Scovill.]

The U.S. Mint at Philadelphia continued to accept such medallic production well into the 20th century. Their own engravers were allowed to do the required die preparation for such medals. This had been allowed since the Civil War. The only proviso was it could not interfere with regular Mint work, and it could not be of a political nature (no campaign medals – this led to an active business among those private engravers).

With this entrenched heritage, Clyde Trees faced a formidable competitor in the United States Mint. This festered in his mind during the depression years of the mid-1930s. By contrast, in the 1920s, over 100 medal jobs a year were registered in the company’s order books and Trees had acquired the company in 1927.

Business slowed with new medal orders dropping to less than one a week. New orders became painfully sparse in these depression years. The small handful of Medallic Art employees were asked to take pay cuts week after week. Trees would send the workers home after what work on hand was accomplished. All prayed for more orders to come in so they could work more full days and gradually fill up a work week.

John Hartl, shop foreman, was even handed in this everyday occurrence. His son, Harry Hartl, worked for him and father would dismiss his son right along with the other workers showing no favoritism.

Trees decided to take on Goliath during this period. The Goliath was the federal government, in the form of the Treasury department allowing the United States Mint to strike medals for a number of private organizations (in direct competition to private medal manufacturers, like, obviously, Medallic Art Company).

Trees wrote Treasury officers, pleading with them to stop accepting orders for medals to be struck at the U.S. Mint. It was unfair, he pointed out, to use government equipment and government employees – and not to pay taxes – in competition with his private firm, which, of course, had to employ workers and to pay taxes.

Before and after World War II firms and organizations that originally had the U.S. Mint make their dies continued to order medals from the Mint. This was particularly so for organizations making a yearly award, until their award program ceased or for other reasons.

Trees continue his effort, appealing to the Treasury for years and to each new administration – without much apparent effect. This began to be felt in 1948 but did not completely cease until 1966 (six years after Trees’ death). Finally, the U.S. Mint did stop striking the last award medal that year in competition with American private medal industry.

Meanwhile Trees had built the small plant he had purchased in 1927 to a firm of national prominence. Ironically, he was able to do this with the profits following World War II of vast orders for military medals and decorations – orders that came to him from the U.S. Government!

Trees Hollow Victory. How the Secret Service learned of the cache of plaster models in Medallic Art’s second floor storeroom is not known. These were the models Henri worked for sculptor clients to reduce to size required by the U.S. Mint as early as 1909 but also during the 1920s and 1930s.

Other than their inscriptions, these models would not be recognized as coins to an unenlightened public since they were in plaster and look like large copies. But these were the very models for United States coins!

The United States Secret Service, it must be said, is charged with suppression of counterfeiting of all U.S. money, paper money for the most part, but coins as well. It is doubtful it was a competitor who had filed a complaint with the Service. (In historical perspective it could have been a disgruntled employee.)

Well if these are the models from which the dies for U.S. coins were once made, then they could be made again. Ergo, these are the tools for [potential] counterfeiting in the public’s hands and therefore must be confiscated (at least in the minds of the Secret Service agents). When demanded to surrender the models to these Secret Service agents, Trees refused.

The truth was, however, that Henri Weil had done more for the U.S. Treasury Department than any Secret Service agent who showed up at the door of Medallic Art Company demanding its property. The Weils had supplied the Janvier pantograph to the Philadelphia Mint plus train the Mint engravers to use it, and also by passing on technological advances in the medal industry to the Mint over the years, always eager to share this technical expertise.

Henri, and later, other technicians, had prepared those patterns that the U.S. Mint could use, where they could not have made such a pattern from the oversize models the coin designers had created for their coin designs. The company had the knowledge of electrocasting of the artist’s patterns and of reducing the resulting hard-metal pattern into galvano and hubs the Mint could easily employ in their process.

Technically, these patterns had been in custody of Medallic Art for decades. But the legal status was a very gray area.

Trees, when apprised of this demand by the Secret Service, rushed to his attorney’s office. After careful study the attorney told Trees: “You are up against the government, they have more resources than you do, they can bring great pressure against you, it isn’t worth your time and money to fight for these, even though they are the company’s own property, and you are supporting a principle, GIVE THE DAMN MODELS TO THEM!”

But Trees rejected even his own attorney’s advice! It didn’t help that Trees obtained letters from the Chief Engraver of the Mint supporting his position, explaining exactly the process of Medallic Art and the role the firm had performed for the Mint making patterns before they came to the engraving department of the U.S. Mint. While the Secret Service was obdurate, it could be said that Trees was even more stubborn.

Both sides refused to concede or even compromise. After considerable pressure, and near exhaustion, Trees and the Secret Service came to a compromise, sort of. Here is what happened:  The models never left Medallic Art premises, but both parties agreed to their destruction.

As three S.S. agents and the obstinate Clyde Trees stood around a 50-gallon metal drum, production foreman Ralph Kaplan picked up a hammer. One-by-one he picked up those plaster creations and reduced the coin models to plaster dust.

Here is a list of those plaster cast patterns of U.S. coins destroyed:

  • 1909 Lincoln Cent by Victor D. Brenner
  • 1912 Buffalo Nickel by James Earle Jones
  • 1916 Mercury Dime by Adolph A. Weinman
  • 1916 Liberty Walking Half Dollar by Adolph A. Weinman
  • 1916 Liberty Standing Quarter by Hermon MacNeil
  • 1921 Peace Dollar by Anthony de Francisci
  • 1932 Washington Quarter by John Flanagan

plus five commemorative half dollars.

Trees won a hollow victory: he didn’t turn the models over to the Secret Service. The Secret Service won a hollow victory in that the models no longer existed, no longer usable. The losers were, perhaps, the American public who lost the originals of some very attractive and significant artifacts of American coin art work.

[To appreciate today something that had been destroyed decades before is difficult. But perhaps each of those original plaster models would sell at auction in excess of $20,000 in the present art or numismatic market. Total value destroyed that day was probably worth a quarter million today had they survived.]

[It was not until the 1960s that the strenuous interpretations on coin replicas were relaxed; where before no three-dimensional replications of coins in any size were permitted. When the bars came down, it seemed, anyone could make a product like a coin in everything from drink coasters to giant wall plaques adorning bank buildings.]

[But the large original models from the hands of the artists, the irreplaceable commemorative patterns were destroyed. It must be said, however, that the U.S. Mint still retained smaller versions of these models in both galvano and master die form.]

Analysis of Post-1959 U.S. Mint Medals

Medals struck by the U.S. Mint following the moratorium of private medals issued by the U.S. Mint were cataloged by Howard Turner. Here is the author’s opinion whether these medals should be Government Issue or Struck by Private Industry.  Does the medal meet the “National Interest” criteria? National Event, States Yes; Cities, Colleges No.

Turner 1
1959 Nevada Silver Centennial Medal (by Frank Gasparro; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 1, HK 552
Government Issue – State  

Turner 2
1959 Colorado Rush to the Rockies Centennial Medal (designed  by A.R. Mitchell, modeled by Gasparro)  Turner 2, HK 542
Government Issue – State

Turner 3
1960 Pony Express Centennial Founders Medal (designed by Julian Author Links, modeled by Frank Gasparro; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 3, HK 582, HK 583
Private Industry

Turner 4
1961 Kansas Statehood Centennial Medal (by Gilroy Roberts and Gasparro) Turner 4, HK 586
Government Issue – State

Turner 5
1961 Pony Express Termination Centennial Medal (designed by Roy J. Olsen, portraits by Gasparro, modeling by Englehardus von Hebel). . .  Turner 5, HK 588, HK 589
Private Industry

Turner 6
1961 Mobile 250th Anniversary Medal (by Gilroy Roberts & Gasparro) Turner 6, HK 587
Private Industry

Turner 7
1962 Seattle World’s Fair Medal (also called Century 21 Exposition Medal; obv by ?; rev by George Tsutakawa; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 7
Private Industry

Turner 8
1963 West Virginia Centennial Medal (obv by Frank Gasparro, rev by Edward R. Grove). Turner 8
Government Issue – State

Turner 9
1963 Serra (Padre Junipero) 250th Anniversary Medal (by Frank Gasparro; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 9
Private Industry

Turner 10
1964 Nevada Statehood Centennial Medal Turner 10
Government Issue – State  

Turner 11
1962 MacArthur (Douglas) Medal Turner 11
Private Industry

Turner 12
1964 First Union Health Center 50th Anniversary Medal (by Frank Gasparro and Steever)Turner A12
Private Industry

Turner 13
Liberty National Shrines Medal Series: (Large dies made and bronze medals struck by Medallic Art Co; small dies made and silver medals struck by U.S. Mint, Philadelphia, all from same patterns.) 1965 Federal Hall Medal (models by Frank Gasparro; silver struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 13, Greenslet G7-13 1965 Federal Hall Medal (models by Frank Gasparro; bronze struck by Medallic Art Co) Turner 13, MAco 65-24-1, Greenslet G7-13
Medallic Art Did Strike

Turner 14
1965 Statue of Liberty and American Museum of  Immigration Medal. . . . . . Turner 14, Greenslet G7-14, MAco 65-24-2
Medallic Art Did Strike

Turner 15
1965 Castle Clinton Medal (obv by Gasparro; rev by Philip Fowler) . . . . .Turner 15, Greenslet G7-15, MAco 65-24-3
Medallic Art Did Strike 

Turner 16
1966 American Numismatic Association 75th Anniversary Medal (obv by Gasparro, rev by Gasparro and Edgar Steever; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 16, Harris 66.SM.3
Private Industry

Turner 17
1967 United States Navy Seabees Medal (modeled by Felix de Weldon; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 17
Government Issue – U.S.Org

Turner 18
1967 Federal Land Bank 50th Anniversary Medal Turner 18
Government Issue – U.S.Org

Turner 19
1967 Alaska Purchase Medal (designed by Joan Kickbush, obv by Edgar Z. Steever, rev by Philip E. Fowler, sturck by U.S. Mint) Turner 19

Turner 20
1965 Ellis Island Medal (obv by Gasparro; rev by Edgar Zell Steever). . . . . Turner 20, Greenslet G7-16, MAco 65-24-4
Medallic Art Did Strike

Turner 21
1968 San Antonio Texas 250th Anniversary Hemis Fair Medal (designed by John Philip Evett; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 21
Private Industry

Turner 22
1969 San Diego California 200th Anniversary Medal (obv designed by Keith Kaonis, rev by Eric R. Poulson; struck by Philadelphia Mint) Turner 22
Private Industry

Turner 23
1969 Golden Spike Commemortive Medal (also called First Transcontinental Rail Route 100th Anniv Medal) Turner 23 Auctions:. . . . . J&J 12:610, J&J 16:2062, J&J 21:1677;
Government Issue – Nat Event

Turner 24
1968 Marquette (Jacques) Tercentennial Medal (also called Michigan Exploration Tercentennial Medal; designed by Barney Brienza; struck by U.S. Mint) . . . . . Turner 24
Government Issue – Nat Event

Turner 25
1969 Memphis Sesquicentennial Medal (designed by Edward Everett Burr; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 25
Private Industry 

Turner 26
1969 Dartmouth College Bicentennial Medal (designed by Rudolph Ruzicka; engraved by Frank Gasparro, struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 26
Private Industry

Turner 27
1969 Churchill Iron Curtain Speech at Westiminster College Medal \(obv by Gasparro; rev designed by Edgar Z. Steever, modeled by Philip E. Fowler). . . .  Turner 27, Engstrom 86
Private Industry

Turner 28
1970 Wichita Centennial Medal (designed by Donald T. Gist, modeled by Frank Gasparro, struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 28
Private Industry

Turner 29
1973 Walt Disney 50th Anniversary Medal (obv by Blaine Gibson, rev designed by Robert Moore, modeled by Joe Kaba; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 29
Private Industry

Turner 30
1969 Alabama Sesquicentennial Medal (designed by John E. Schlader; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 30
Government Issue – State

Turner 31
1970 South Carolina Tricentennial Medal (designed bu Enrico Monjo; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 31
Government Issue – State

Turner 32
1970 American Fisheries Society Centennial Medal (obv by Steever, rev by Philip Fowler) Turner 32
Private Industry

Turner 33
1971 Ohio Northern University Centennial Medal (by Michael Iacocca and Sherl J. Winter) Turner 33 Auctions: PCA 58:1782
Private Industry

Turner 34
1970 Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Medal (by Abraham Belskie; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 34 1970 Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Medal (struck by Medallic Art Co, Borglum’s sculpture work) . MAco 70-23.
Medallic Art Did Strike

[Type of Turner 34] 1970 Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Medal (struck by U.S. Mint, of Borglum’s sculpture work) Turner 34

Turner 35
1971 Navarro (Jose Antonio) Centennial Medal (obv by Frank Gasparro, rev by Steever) Turner 35
Private Industry

Turner 36
1973 Clemente (Roberto Walker) Medal (designed by Virgil D. Cantini; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 36
Private Industry

Turner 37
1972 U.S. Frigate Constellation Medal (designed by Donald F. Stewart, obv modeled by ?, rev modeled by Winter; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 37
Private Industry

Turner 38
1974 International Exposition on the Environment Medal (designed by George Tsutakawa, both sides modeled by Winter; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 38 Auctions: PCA 58:1794, PCA 65:1706
Private Industry

Turner 39
1973 San Francisco Cable Car Centennial Medal (designed by Thomas R. McClure; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 39
Private Industry

Turner 40
1973 Thorpe (James Francis) Medal (designed by V. Thompson, D. Luke and Harold V. Brown; modeled by Joniece Frank) Turner 40
Private Industry

Turner 41
1976 Colorado Centennial Medal (signed by 4 artists:  obv designed by Sue C. Hughey, rev by Randy Moyle; modeled by Edgar Zell Steever & Gasparro) Turner 41
Government Issue – State

Turner 41A
1976 Denver Mint Colorado Centennial Medal (mule of Denver Mint from List 703 medal by Steever, rev by Randy Moyle from Turner 41)
Government Issue – Mint

Turner 42
1976 Carroll (Charles) of Carrollton Medal (reissue of PE-6 by Christian Gobrecht with addition of bicentennial dates; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 42
Government Issue – Nat Event

Turner 43
United States Capitol Historical Society Series:  1978 Washington National Medal. Turner 43 the rest of the series.
Medallic Art Did Strike

Turner 44
1988 America In Space Gold Medal (obv by Brian Kachel, rev by Robert Ahlcrona; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 44
Government Issue – Nat Event 

1988 America In Space Silver Medal (designed by Essan Ni, modeled by James Licaretz, rev by Ahlcrona; struck by U.S. Mint) Turner 44
Government Issue – Nat Event

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As we write this in the Spring of 2012 the Stolen Valor Law is being tested in state courts as it is headed for a final determination in the U.S. Supreme Court this summer. It’s a law that makes it illegal to state a person has received decorations of valor or other military medals — or to wear these – that they have not won, and to do this for some personal gain.

President George W. Bush signed this into law in 2005. It strengthened a previous regulation (U.S. Code 18, paragraph 704) prohibiting these medal activities by unauthorized people. For example, Wikipedia reports in June 2006 there were 120 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, but over a thousand people have made such fraudulent statements of its bestowal to them.

Veteran organizations strongly support the legislation – rightly so – to preserve the honor bestowed to deserving recipients. Any activity by civilians or even former military personnel that denigrate this honor is unwanted. Most often, it is such veterans organization who make the complaints of unauthorized use by undeserving people.

This gave rise to the term “stolen valor,” in the United States. In England, under similar situations, the term for such a miscreant was a “medal cheat!”

Collectors organizations, on the other hand, believe the law went too far. It limited the sale or trade of existing decorations. In the past military decoration collectors circumvented the restrictions by exchanging a minor medal when purchasing a more expensive one. This gradually diminished to a purchase for cash and, say, a postage stamp, for a desired decoration.

Purple Heart Medal

Purple Heart Medal

Purple Hearts, for example had a collector value of $45 and there has always been an active market for these and other U.S. and foreign decorations. The U.S. Code made no mention of what should be done with military decorations in a deceased veterans estate. These are legitimate artifacts documenting a person’s military achievements. They have value as museum pieces – or to private collectors – if not retained by the veterans family.

And what collector, or medal dealer – this writer included – once he had possession of a decorations on a chain, or a sash, has not placed this around his own neck. That act is wearing a decoration in unauthorized fashion. But most collectors who venerate such objects would never wear this outside his own office or home. He has great respect for the person who did, indeed, deserve receiving this award.

Examples of fraudulent use include the family who acquired military medals at flea markets and “awarded” these to their youngster for good behavior. While this may be a commendable act of parenting, it was certainly not the intended use of these medals. This occurred before 2005. Under previous restrictions they were fined and changed their way of child commendation.

Two more recent cases, one in California and one in Colorado, have considered this situation and both have been dismissed based on the first amendment. While these have been declared unconstitutional, Wikipedia states: “legal scholars are all not in agreement that lying should have constitutional protection.”

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court depends on their interpretation of the first amendment. Do citizens have the right to lie under the concept of Free Speech. If so, then can an exception be made for recipients of an honor so desired that others are willing to lie about it and bask in the honor reserved for those who legitimately won that honor?

This writer believes the law should be upheld, but the restrictions for buying and selling existing decorations should be permissible among collectors.

Case number two.  In 2009 the esteemed British Museum mounted an exhibit “Medals of Dishonor.” This took its name from a series of 15 medals, created prior to 1940 by American sculptor David Smith.

It was described in its exhibition statement: “Medals are best known for celebrating important figures or heroic deeds, but this unique exhibition features medals that condemn their subjects. The display exposes the long and rich tradition of this darker side of medals.”

The exhibit featured the David Smith medals which were inspired by the rise of fascism during the 1930s, and by the German war medals he saw at the British Museum. He modeled these in the shape of Sumerian seals he had studied in Greece and named the series of 15 oval medallions “Medals of Dishonor.”

In addition there was a companion piece by Marcel Duchamp I will speak of in a minute. To flesh out the exhibit, British medallic artists were invited to submit contemporary examples of their creation. Sixteen artists responded, most all members of the British Art Medal Trust. The artist’ medals were donated to the BM for their permanent collections.

Historical medals covering a 400-year period were also on display, satirical and political medals with themes ranging from bizarre to scatological. One medal from 1915 shows the figure of Death happily smoking while seated on a cannon, a city in flames in the background.

It typified many expressing the horror and brutality of war.

What brought this all to mind this week was an inquiry from a fellow collector in Boston. He had befriended a curator in France and the pair had an active correspondence. The curator had learned of that Marcel Duchamp “medal” and wanted to obtain a specimen for his institution.

Here is how Duchamp’s medal, called a bouche-evier, was described from a review of that show:

“Fittingly, Marcel Duchamp supplies the ultimate reduction of the medal’s function as an indicator of superior status with his piece Sink Stopper (1964-67).  Modelled in clay from the perforated drain of a porcelain shower tray and then cast by the artist in lead that he had melted in a saucepan, this “medal” was originally nothing more than an answer to a plumbing problem.

“Duchamp liked to soak his feet, but the shower tray leaked. A couple of years later he was invited by an American company to strike a medallion. Just as he had pissed on the inflated claims made for art with his 1917 urinal, he now couldn’t resist offering the stopper, which was subsequently cast in silver, bronze and stainless steel and circulated as an ‘original limited edition Medallic Sculpture.’

“As a comment on the aesthetic and political range of choices available in the medium, nothing in this exhibition can touch it.”

The American company mentioned in that description was International Numismatic Agency, a client of Medallic Art Company, and a major producer for the owner, Neil Cooper. Fortunately Medallic Art did not make those Sink Stoppers for Mr. Cooper.

The three pages from my files on this issue document the effort Cooper extended to market this “medal.” He advertised in Art in America, it also carried a half page article in their July-August 1969 issue.

He saw that the “medal” was in prominent museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution Numismatic Collection, Bowdoin College Art Museum were named in his literature.

A final statement: “Mr. Lawrence Alloway, former curator of the Guggenheim Museum acted as artistic consultant for this project.”

It is still a Sink Stopper.

This writer holds medals and medallic art to the highest standards. I relish satire and satirical medals. But there is a line below which I would not approve of the misuse of medallic art to advance some misguided individual’s sense of satire by calling it a medal.

You may form your own opinion.

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I once defined “talent” for creating medals as “empathy, repertoire and skill.” An artist needs a full capacity of each of these characteristics to create the models the firm requires to make the outstanding medallic art that it is noted for over the last century.

Empathy is the feeling the artist has for the subject of his intended medal. Here I must give credit to my mentor at Medallic Art Company, its long-time art director and vice president, Julius Lauth. Julius taught me most of what I know about medallic art.

Julius greatest contribution was to select the artist with the greatest empathy for any new medal job. He had intimate knowledge of, perhaps, two to three hundred sculptors who could create medallic models at any one time. He knew the sculptors so well that he could recite personal dossiers on each of these artists in his mind.

If the medal to be made was, say, a Methodist medal, he knew a Methodist sculptor. If it was an African-American subject, he knew a Black sculptor. He knew this intuitively. By selecting the artist with the greatest empathy towards the subject, he knew that sculptor would produce the most inspired and knowledgeable creation.

Repertoire is the total experiences of any person. This includes both the total experience within the art field, in addition to life’s total experiences. Having a greater repertoire gives a seasoned artisan an advantage over a freshly minted fine art school graduate.

All those years of experience that lodge in the artist’s mind help guide him in what can be done and what can’t, what should be done, what is pushing the envelope, and what is fad, or fashionable, or exactly what would be the best expression of his talented imagination.

The same holds true for everything the artist has experienced away from the art world — his travels, the books he has read, the conversations he has had with knowledgeable people. All these accumulated exposures meld into his repertoire that he brings to each new medallic challenge.

Skill  is the proficiency in the task at hand. Skill can be learned but doing the task repeatedly generates a better end product. The hand is steadier; the mind is surer. Here again experience is paramount. A seasoned artist is more skillful than when he began.

Why diversity is so desirable.  For the first 75 years of Medallic Art Company’s existence, the firm never had a “staff artist,” nowadays termed a “factory artist.” Because this was such a firm policy the company had to turn to outside artists – to the two to three hundred sculptors who could produce medallic models at any one time.

Because of this every medal looked different. By using a multitude of artists the total medallic product of the firm bore that diversity. There existed a wide range of styles in the firm’s showcases. Obviously the subjects different, but so did each artist’s own treatment of each medal he created.

Had a factory artist been assigned job after job, they would tend to become similar. No one artist could have created a different style and technique for each new medal. By assigning every new medal to a talented outside artist Medallic Art achieved the most attractive desirable medallic art!

In recording the biographical details of more than 3500 artists of American coins and medals for my databank intended for the internet, I have noted their professions other than engraver, designer or sculptor. I learned that only a small number of artists derived their full income and their only profession as coin and medal artists.

All others perused one or more other professions. A significant number of coin and medal artists were also educators, teaching art, or sculpture, or similar subjects.  Another popular adjunct profession was jeweler.

Obviously most of these other professions are art oriented: sculptor, painter, illustrator, wax modeler, portraitist, miniaturist, cartoonist, graphic artist, seal engraver, banknote (or steel) engraver, wood carver, ceramicist, industrial designer and such.

Some professions were completely outside the art field. In a broad view these other professions may have had some influence on the artist’s coin or medal design (providing them that rare insight or empathy for any item they created). Or, it can be considered to add to those life experiences so beneficial to any designer of a coin or medal.

What might be of interest are some the more unusual ways in which medalists supported themselves while also creating coins and medals. Listed below are some of the professions I have found and listed in my Databank of American Artists:

Actor (film) Roger Nobel Burnham (1876-1962)
Architect Hammatt Billings (1816-1874)
Architect Paul Philippe Crete (1876-1945)
Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924)
Architect Thomas Rogers Kimball (1862-1934)
Army Officer Aymar Embury (1880-1966)
Army Officer Seth Eastman (1808-1875)
Army Officer Ralph Townsend Heard (1895-1993)
Army Officer Edgar Erskine Hume (1889-1952)
Army Officer Robert N. Ives (ca1920-2006)
Army Officer John Rogers M. Taylor (1865-1949)
Art Dealer Jules Charbneau (1883-1968)
Awning Manufacturer William F. Scheible (active 1855-60)
Branding Iron Manufacturer James M. Murdock Junior (b 1839, active 1865-1902)
Botanist Frederick LeRoy Sargent (1863-1928)
Buttonmaker Manufacture Hiram Washington Hayden (1820-1904)
Calico Printer Thomas Welland (c1806- fl 1850-59)
Candymaker Theodore J. Harbach (fl 1876-77)
Ceramicist Russell Gerry Crook (1869-1955)
Ceramicist Jean Baptiste Nini (1717-1786)
Ceramicist Adelaide Toombs Sundlin (1915- )
Christmas Tree Ornament Mfgr Theodore J. Harbach (fl 1876-77)
Clockmaker, Watchmaker Edward Duffield (1730-1805)
Clockmaker Henry Voigt (1744-1814)
Corset Manufacturer William Rosenthal (1882-1958)
Dauguerrotype Case Mfgr Alfred J. Henning (active 1855-1868)
Dentist Theron S. Hitchcock (1830-1918)
Draftsman Vincent Glinsky (1895-1975)
Educator Many in both 19th & 20th Centuries
Gynocologist Robert Latou Dickinson (1861-1950)
Heraldic Artist Nathaniel Hurd (1730-1777)
Historian John Baer Stoudt (1878-1944)
Industrial Designer Raymond Loewy (1893-1986)
Industrial Designer Walter Dorwin Teague (1883-1960)
Inventor Darvin Ellis (1807-1884)
Inventor Joseph Jenckes (1602-1683)
Jack-of-all-Trades Abel Buell (1741/42-1822)
Jeweler Many in 19thy Century
Justice of the Peace Benjamin C. True (fl 1832-79)
Librarian George Seymour Godard (1865-1936)
Lithographer Vincent Glinsky (1895-1975)
Marine Officer Charles Heywood (1839-1915)
Merchant Manuel Barrea (active 1818)
Metallurgist Samuel Higley (ca 1687-1737)
Milliner (Straw Hat Mfgr) Gotfried Mass (active 1840-47)
Missionary (Methodist) Hamilton Campbell (active 1849-61)
Mormon Religious Leader John Taylor (1808-1887)
Museum (Art) Official Joseph Veach Noble (1920-2007)
Museum (Planetarium) Official Helmut K. Wimmer (1925-2006)
Philanthropist John Frederick Lewis (1860-1932)
Philanthropist George Dupont Pratt (1869-1935)
Photographer Arthur C. Morgan (1904-1994)
Photographer Neila Kun (1951- )
Physician Hannibal De Bellis (1894-1976)
Physician John S. Ormsby (1806-1876)
Physician Townsend William Thorndike (1872-1929)
Police Commissioner Ralph Joseph Menconi (1915-1972)
Priest, Catholic Anthony Lauck (1908-2001)
Saloon Keeper Frank Donnelly (1870-1919)
Schoolmaster Samuel Higley (ca 1687-1737)
Schoolmistress Clara P. Hill (1870-1935)
Stencil Manufacturer Many 19th Century Artists
Surgeon Edward Mitchell Hanrahan (1892-1952)
Topographical Draftsman Joseph Goldsborough Bruff (1804-1889)
Topographical Engineer Washington Hood (1808-1840)
Town Clerk Clarles B. Merrill (active 1876-80)
Typefounder Abel Buel (1741/42-1822)
Typefounder John Reich (1768-1833)
Wellsinker Henry Biggins (active 1844-52)

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