I HAVE my own definition of the word “lore,” since I use it so often in describing medals. Learning the lore about an item adds to its collectability and supplements the usual data about the medallic items of who, where and when it was made. Lore means to me:
Specialized knowledge about a historical item that adds, allure, interest and desirability to the item.
In short it could be – the story behind the medal.
I learned to seek out such a story for every medal I had for sale when I was a medal dealer at collector shows. When a prospective buyer asks to see a medal and he is holding it in his hand is the ideal opportunity for a high-quality sales talk. That’s the time to discuss the medal’s lore – to tell its history in as much detail as possible. Often it’s that lore, that story, that history, that sells the medal.
In an auction catalog, lore has the same importance. But the amount of space to tell the story is usually limited. You learn to pack a lot of lore into as few sentences as possible. You have to highlight its major points and feature the alluring details as space permits.
I also learned to discuss the Lore of a medal when answering an inquiry. These come to me from every direction since I have studied American medals and have specialized in 20th century issues, particularly those of the Medallic Art Company. The firm dominated the manufacture of the highest quality medals – art medals – for the entire 20th century.
For example, in answer to an inquiry sent to Medal Collectors of America — the letter was forwarded to me from the organization’s webmaster for a reply. The collector had a silver medal bearing the portrait of Michael DiSalle. He described its weight, identified the artist, mentioned the edgelettering: .999+ PURE SILVER MEDALLIC ART COMPANY 262. He also asked if the medal was genuine.
With this basic information, identifying the medal was easy for me and gave him the background information he was seeking. This medal had an interesting history, of considerable Lore. Here’s what I wrote about that collector’s medal:
Your medal is known as the Michael V. DiSalle Campaign Medal, 1962. It was indeed created by sculptor Ralph Joseph Menconi (1915-1972) and struck by Medallic Art Company, then of New York City (later of Danbury, Connecticut, and later of Dayton, Nevada). It is MAco catalog number 62-87 [now 1962-087]
The medal was issued by Presidential Art Medals of Englewood, Ohio.
How they issued this medal is an interesting story. This organization began issuing half-dollar size medals of the presidents of the United States (struck by Medallic Art Co). This series proved so successful they commenced plans also in 1962 for a second series of the States of the Union.
Since they were located in Ohio, they wanted to issued the Ohio Statehood Medal as the first medal in this series (MAco 62-2-1). They contacted the governor’s office for a suggestion for the most famous Ohio citizen(s) to place their portrait(s) on this medal. (The ultimate decision was to place the Wright Brothers portraits on this Ohio medal.)
The governor at that time was the very Michael DiSalle you see on your medal. He became intrigued with their project and invited them to visit him. All four principles of Presidential Art Medals visited Governor DiSalle. He was running for reelection in 1962 and asked if they would strike a medal for his campaign. The answer was obviously yes.
But that is not the end of the story. Later DiSalle became associated with one of the Presidential Art principles, Max Humbert, and the two became very active in the issuing and marketing of coins and medals. DiSalle, who commanded an impressive appearance, large in stature, voice and intent, was an excellent negotiator. He traveled in diplomatic and political circles, was often in the White House. The pair even solicited foreign governments for issuing their coins, somewhat like the Franklin Mint was doing at the time.
Michael DiSalle (born January 6, 1908) died September 14, 1981. The duo had done quite well and Max Humbert bought a home in the Bahamas or West Indies but continued to run a numismatic firm out of Florida.
The DiSalle medal was issued in three sizes. The 2¾-inch (70mm) you have was issued in bronze and silver. A 1¼-inch (32mm) size was issued in bronze and platinum, and a 13/16-inch (21mm) size in bronze and silver.
The 262 on the edge of your medal is a serial number. There were 2,000 issued this size all serially numbered. There were 1,000 issued in bronze unnumbered this size.
The medium size is the most common, 17,000 in bronze were struck and these were widely distributed as campaign medals (a practice that goes back in American history to Abraham Lincoln and before). Of the platinum, only 10 were struck and these were serially numbered.
The small sizes were all made into jewelry items (ideal for charm size medalets). For women, 25 silver medalets were struck, for 12 pair of earrings, and 524 bronze struck for 262 sets of earrings. For men 1,000 medalets were struck in bronze for 500 sets of cufflinks.
About the genuineness of your medal; I would have to see the medal, of course, to attest that it is genuine. However, I have never heard of this medal being copied. In fact, very few medals have been replicated of Medallic Art Company medals because of their high quality (it is so difficult to replicate this quality).
Collecting these would be a challenge, imagine the thrill of the chase to find and acquire these elusive items! Other than the platinum medal, you already have the most expensive silver medal. Good luck in your further collecting.
Editor John Adams of the MCA Advisor, where this reply to a collector’s inquiry was published, added his comment: “You ask a question of Dick Johnson and you get a world-class answer.”
Letter Answered: Michael V. DiSalle Campaign Medal MCA Advisory 9:7 (August 2006) p19-20.