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Archive for the ‘Medallic History’ Category

Prompted by an Art Magazine Two Innovators Created a New Class of Numismatic Items

Not often is a new class of numismatic items born. We have seen this only twice in the last fifty years. The most recent is the bullion item – coins and medals struck solely for their precious metal content.

December 2015 is the fiftieth anniversary of the other, an entirely new numismatic genre that has swept the world for its popularity among medallic artists. This class of medals is unique to the numismatic field – the medallic object.

Created in the art world, but produced in the medal world, it was a marriage that occurred among three New York City institutions. Not an accident, it was a concept created by an art magazine, an art museum curator, and an art medal manufacturer. For medallic objects are an art creation, the mating of modern art with medallic form.

As a Christmas gift promotion in 1965, Art in America magazine wanted to offer its readers something available nowhere else. Their relationship with the leading artists of the time prompted them to promote a new format bas-relief created by top sculptors, yet in a size suitable for intimate display.

The magazine’s officials commissioned a curator of modern art at New York’s Whitney Museum, Edward Albert Bryant, to manage the project. He contacted the most prominent sculptors in the modern art field. Seven accepted his challenge – to create a modern art work that could be made in a small size.

FallingMan

Ernest Trova “Falling Man”

The variety of their creations expressed their current work. Sculptor Ernest Trova, for example, was at the time creating a series of major sculptures in a series best described as “Falling Man.” How to transfer this concept to a smaller venue?

Trova solved this with a brilliant design of seven human figures aligned inside a circle with a bright red enameled arrow pointing with a subtle thrust of a Man in downwards motion — no matter how the piece was rotated. He added a legend in a raised panel circumscribing the rim.

His design met the form of a medal but was unlike anything ever produced before. It was the birth of a new sculptural work in medallic form, embracing modern art in a new class of numismatic items. A class that was to remain unnamed for two decades.

MeshedFaces

Harold Tovish “Meshed Faces”

Six other sculptors created models where their imagination and mannerisms ran unfettered. Boston sculptor Harold Tovish interspersed two human heads he called Meshed Faces. His anepigraphic design denoted a dehumanization of our modern culture with mechanical forms.

Once curator Bryant had models in hand he sought a way to replicate them. His search did not take him far as he found nearby Medallic Art Company ideal for the task. He met with the firm’s president, William Trees Louth.

Bryant_Louth

Edward Bryant and Bill Louth

The two men pored over the models discussing how best to make the final items. Accustomed to striking the company’s medallic output, Louth suggested striking the items in medallion size. Bryant wanted something larger since dies at that time were limited to no greater than five-inch diameter. The obvious answer, Louth proposed, was making them each as electrogalvanic casts – galvanos.

Once the size decision was made, Louth further suggested striking several as conventional medals, and creating even a smaller size as a pin that could be worn. Bryant was elated at those suggestions.

ArtInAmericaCoverTovish’s model then could be made as a 12-inch galvano – which Art in America called “wall piece” – a 2¾-inch medal called a “desk piece,” and a 1-inch “jewelry pin.”

Next discussion was the finish to be applied to each. Every design had to have a distinctive patina. Here, they felt, the artist should have some say to ensure the final work adhered to the artist’s original vision.

While Louth entered orders for his craftsmen to commence producing the items, Bryant wrote the article “Christmas For Connoisseurs” for the magazine, with full-page color illustrations of the seven avant-garde items.

The article appeared in Art in America’s December-January 1965-66 issued to be in readers’ hands during the gift-buying season. At the back of the magazine, among small gallery ads, was published a full-page ad offering the seven items for sale.

ConsantinoNivolo

Constantino Nivola “Loving Couple”

The ad touted “An Exceptional Collecting Opportunity. Relief Sculptures in Limited Editions.” The work of all seven artists – well-known to the magazine’s readers for their reputation and celebrity status – were offered as Wall Pieces (galvanos), medals, and pins. Only two artists’ creations were offered in all three options: Tovish’s Meshed Faces, and Constantino Nivola’s impressionistic Loving Couple, an expression of Man and Nature beneath a dream cloud.

Four of the seven items were issued in circular form. In addition to Tovish’s Meshed Faces. Elbert Weinberg, working in Rome, submitted his Salome in four dancing poses within the circular format. Perhaps his creation could be considered humanistic as it displayed four human figures.

JamesWine

James Wines

The design by James Wines, known for expressing architectural influence in his sculptural work at the time, continued this theme in the medallic rendition. His design was the only one with open work, a small aperture near the lower edge.

Roy Gussow created The Flow of Water over the Edge of a Pool. Bryant described it in modern art language: “Elegantly refined relief represents the purists and geometric direction in contemporary sculpture. With admirable simplicity of pure form and inventive use of highly reflective surfaces, he has created a work with the magic of changing patterns.”

Water

Roy Gussow “The Flow of Water”

The museum curator called Gussow’s design a kaleidoscope with its reflective surface highly polished by the craftsmen in the finishing department of Medallic Art Company. Other pieces were given more customary patinas, where acids were employed to apply color and protective surface.

Chryssa’s piece was, perhaps, most unusual of all. It replicated the surface of lettering found in newspapers of the time, where metal lines of type were gathered in columns and a curved mat made for printing on high speed presses. Chryssa, whose full Greek name was Vardea Chryssa Mavromichaeli, cast her model using a method somewhat similar to printer’s technology.

ChryssaNewspaperType

Vardea Chryssa Mavromichaeli casting

For the seven artists their intent was to create a suitable relief. For the manufacture the intent was to render those reliefs in suitable medallic form as attractively as possible, Not one of them knew they had created an entirely new art form. Yet they had given birth to the medallic object.

 

Six months later, in France, where modern art is de rigeur, the Paris Mint issued its first item that could be termed a medallic object. Roger Bezombes, an accomplished medailleur, created in 1966 his first of what was to become a persistent passion for the new art form. It was a uniface piece bearing a portrait of Ceres, the goddess of the earth and agriculture, with open work for eyes and mouth.

StarOfJoy

Roger Bezombes “Star of Joy”

His most noted work, however, is Star of Joy, which Americans call Sunburst for its multiple sunrays. The 24 rays surround the sun in the center, polished and containing the lettering. In contrast, the sun’s rays are style rude, an art term meaning “rough style.”

Bezombes’ imagination embraced an unfettered creativity, wild and highly imaginative. He pushed the envelope in design, shape, spatial form, and the use of fabricated objects. He made occasional use of buttons and sea shells, and delighted in making large eyes with tiny balls as the iris.

He once designed a stork, fully upright, made of two dozen scissors. Another work was a light bulb where the filaments appear in multiple shapes and discs. For another he added eyeglass frames on an obverse portrait that morphs into – what is it? – a severed bicycle on the reverse.

Like Bezombes, other abstract artists were attracted to the new art form for its ease of replicating their highly imaginative models. Picasso made a medal of table spoons, another as a dinner plate.

Once the Paris Mint began producing these unconventional medals it attracted artists throughout Europe and even the Orient as their popularity spread among the coterie of world artists.

The new form was encouraged by one devotee fortunately in a position of influence: Pierre deHay, one-time director of the Paris Mint. During his administration modern art was welcomed to be rendered into medallic form, and these creative objects were produced in increasing numbers. At the peak of this phenomenon, during Director deHay’s reign in the early 1980s, the Paris Mint placed in production one new art medal a day, predominantly medallic objects!

By 1985 its collection had grown to the point where it needed a separate catalog. The minions at the Paris Mint gathered and photographed the work of 124 artists, mostly French; 302 items divided into three classes – medallic objects, plaquettes, and what they called medallic enrichies, a medal with added adornments.

But what to name this modern art form? They chose “medallic objects” as the catalog’s title – la Medaille-Object – the first time this term appeared in print. The term became accepted first by the artists, then by collectors and ultimately added to numismatic lexicography.

American artists, however, could not match the French pace. Among a handful of early medallic objects made in America was one by modernist Roy Lichtenstein, Salute to Airmail, in 1969. But what American artists did was to band together in 1982, forming the American Medallic Sculpture Association to encourage all forms of medallic creations. Previously, artists in England had formed British Art Medal Society in 1979, followed by artists in Canada who established the Medallic Art Society of Canada in 2000. Similar medallic organizations have been established in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere.

Exhibitions of these national societies embraced medallic objects, as did the world organization, the Fédération Internationale de la Médaille d’Art, everywhere reverently called “Feed-’em” for its FIDEM initials. Its international exhibits of recently created coins and medals are held every other year or so. For thirty years, that which had been conventional, typical, medals gradually became dominated by atypical medallic objects.

Two FIDEM congresses have been held in America, appropriately at the American Numismatic Association’s Colorado Springs headquarters. The first in 1987 attracted 694 artists from 25 countries. Well-known American sculptor Mico Kaufman created the official Congress medal, an avant-garde design in oval shape.

The second American FIDEM Congress was held in 2007 with exhibits from 576 artists representing 30 countries. A dramatic, innovative medal, issued by ANA, was created by New England artist Sarah Peters. It was perhaps the most innovative FIDEM Congress Medal ever! Bearing a human figure on both sides, male on one, female on the other, it was designed in modified quadrant shape where four could be interconnected together forming somewhat of a circle and rearranged in three other shapes.

The bulk of both of these exhibitions, like others nationally, prior and since, were unquestionably, medallic objects.

Just what are medallic objects? How would one define them? Medallic objects are modern art in medallic form. While inspired by the medallic genre they do not have the restrictions of coins or medals.

They must be permanent, capable of being reproduced, usually made of metal and, in most issues, have a shape other than round. Medallic objects break the rules of circular coin and medal design, go beyond any limitations, transcend any technical restraint, overcome medallic prejudice, in order to become interesting, aesthetic objects for the eye to behold.

Usually medallic objects are free-standing; infrequently called “standing medallic art.” But to stand alone is not even a requirement. They are not small statues, they are not upright or overgrown medallions – medallic objects are a new sculptural entity, indeed, that in fifty years has found its niche in the art and numismatic world.

The painter crafts his art in color and shadows. The sculptor crafts his art in forms and planes. The medallist crafts his art in relief and miniature size. But the creators of medallic objects, while they may be guided by the precepts of these graphic and glyptic arts, are not bound by restrictions of any art.

If I had to characterize their form I would say medallic objects are bas-relief unleashed. Their appeal will grow as collectors discover there are art objects in the field beyond coins and medals, yet inspired by what they have been collecting all along.

Satisfying a Medallic Artist

Harold Tovish

The late Harold Tovish

Sculptor Harold Tovish visited Medallic Art Company’s plant in New York City in 1965 to choose the finish of the 12-inch galvano of his relief that Art in America magazine called “Dehumanization of Mechanical Forms,” but what we called “Meshed Faces.”

The smaller medal was satisfactory, but he wanted the larger galvano to be different, the best art possible. Customarily the artist picks a patina color from the finishes that can be applied to a medallic item. While brown and green patinas are most common — the easiest to apply — virtually any color can be applied with different acids and different procedures. These are not paints nor coatings, these are permanent color of the metal itself

Toviah was more concerned with the surface texture than color. The satin surface of the wide rim enclosed a clear background and a pair of “faces” — all of smooth texture. Having all three congruent surfaces smooth is a no-no. It’s bad art in medallic sculpture.

As the master sculptor that Tovish was he wanted a texture on the background between the smooth rim and the smooth faces. It is good art to have contrast adjacent to or between two smooth surfaces.

The craftsmen in Medallic Art’s finishing department, notably the late Hugo Greco was assigned the task to satisfy Tovish no matter what. Give him whatever he wanted. With Tovish by his side Greco tried the usual techniques using chasing tools — dapple and matting punches — to apply the texture to the surface of the copper galvano.

Nothing he tried seem to satisfy Tovish. Greco tried tiny beads of acid to form minute incuse areas in the surface. Even that was unsatisfactory, it looked like the craters on the moon.

In desperation, Hugo picked up a beer-can opener, the kind with a hard metal curved point that leaves a triangular opening in the can. He starting scratching the surface in the background forming hundreds of small incuse circles and arcs. After a few minutes of this he raised the galvano above his head for better light. Tovish raised his head to observe the result.

“That’s it!” shouted Tovish.


Sources

  1. Objects of Desire by D. Wayne Johnson, The Numismatist, September 2007.
  2. Paris Mint, la Medaille-Object, 1985.
  3. FIDEM Exhibition Catalog, ANA, 1987.
  4. FIDEM Exhibition Catalog, ANA, 2007.
  5. Report From the 2007 FIDEM Congress, E-Sylum, September 23, 2007, volume 10, number 38, article 9.

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Thousands of themes are found among the medals made by Medallic Art Company.  MACO has made so many medals, in fact, that collectors recognize they cannot collect them all – although that could be a collectors’ specialty itself — collectors tend to specialize and collect by theme, which they call a topic. Collecting is a very personal thing – every collector chooses his own topic.

The scouting movement, for both boys and girls, has been well represented within the archives of Medallic Art medals. We do not know the creators of all the scouting medals, but some very prominent sculptors are revealed here, Paul Manship and Laura Gardin Fraser top the list. The appeal of scouting collectibles is very strong. Even more so for adults as reflects a happy time in their youth.

Many of these items were ordered continuously and bestowed to youths over a sustained period.  Others, as Jamboree pins, were for only one event, one year. Medallic Art was a major supplier of these medallic items to the two scouting organizations.

A List of Boy Scout and Girl Scout Medals With Selected Photos From Medallic Art Archives

1918-015  Girl Scouts World War I Liberty Loan Medal  1918  Girl Scouts        Paul Howard Manship

1921-034-01  American Girl Scouts Brownie Pin   1921  Girl Scouts of America        Unknown Artist

1921-034-02  American Girl Scouts Cuff Links   1921  Girl Scouts of America       Unknown Artist

1921-034-03  American Girl Scouts Captains Pins   1921  Girl Scouts of America       Unknown Artist

1921-035  Girl Scouts of America Eaglet Emblem   1921  Girl Scouts of America    ½-inch       Unknown Artist

1921-036  Girl Scouts of America Merit Badge  1921  Girl Scouts of America    1-inch        Unknown Artist

1921-037  Girl Scouts of America Life Saving Emblem  1921  Girl Scouts of America  1- x 1¼-inch       Unknown Artist

1922-037  American Girl Scouts Thanks Badge  1922  Girl Scouts of America   Unknown Artist

Girl Scouts of America Tenderfoot Pin

Girl Scouts of America Tenderfoot Pin

1922-038  Girl Scouts of America Tenderfoot Pin  1922  Girl Scouts of America  ¾-inch      Unknown Artist

1923-005

Girl Scouts Camp Andree Clark Pin (Feather)

1923-005  Girl Scouts Camp Andree Clark Pin (Feather)  1923  Girl Scouts  2¼-inch       Hand Cut Die

1926-040  Boy Scouts Buffalo Charm  1926  Boy Scouts of America                                                     Unknown Artist

1926-041  Boy Scouts Life Saving Honor Medal  1926  Boy Scouts of America      Unknown Artist

1926-042-01  Girl Scouts Camp of the Hills Pin  1926  Girl Scouts of America  5/8-inch       Unknown Artist

1926-042-02  Girl Scouts Wind In the Pines Pin 1926   Girl Scouts of America  5/8-inch     Unknown Artist

1926-042-03  Girl Scouts Camp Longview Pin 1926   Girl Scouts of America  5/8-inch     Unknown Artist

1926-042-04  Girl Scouts Camp Seven Hills Pin 1926  Girl Scouts of America  5/8-inch     Unknown Artist

1926-043  Boy Scouts Double XX With Eagle Badge  1926  Boy Scouts of America  7/8-inch     Unknown Artist

1927-011  Girl Scouts Camp Edith Macy Pin  1927  Girl Scouts of America  1½-inch           Hand Cut Die

1927-026

Boy Scouts International Jamboree

1927-026  Boy Scouts International Jamboree Medal  1927  Boy Scouts of America 1½-inch          Julio Kilenyi

1927-031  American Girl Scouts Fern Pin  1927  Girl Scouts of America                                                Unknown Artist

1927-032  American Girl Scouts Srsc Pin  1927  Girl Scouts of America                                                Unknown Artist

1927-033  American Girl Scouts Greenwood Pin  1927  Girl Scouts of America     Unknown Artist

1927-037  American Girl Scouts Maple Leaf Pin   1927  Girl Scouts of America    Unknown Artist

1928-014  Girl Scouts Golden Eaglet Pin  1928  Girl Scouts of America  1 1/8-inch       Laura Gardin Fraser

1928-058  Boy Scouts Life Saving Medal  1928  Boy Scouts of America  1 5/8- x 1 3/8-inch       Unknown Artist

1929-040  Girl Scout Feeding Rabbit Medal  1929  Girl Scouts of America  1¾-inch       Jessie Willing

1929-053  Boy Scouts of America Eagle Badge  1929  Boy Scouts of Am  1½-inch Alexander Phimister Proctor

1929-053-A  Boy Scouts of America ‘Be Prepared’ Bar  1929  Boy Scouts of Am  1½- x ¼-inch    Hand Cut Die

1929-060  American Girl Scout Lapel Pin  1929  Girl Scouts of America                                               Unknown Artist

1929-084  Girl Scouts of America Community Service Medal  1929  Girl Scouts of Am  ¾-inch   Hand Cut Die

1929-085

Girl Scouts of America Pine Cone Pin

1929-085  Girl Scouts of America Pine Cone Pin  1929  Girl Scouts of America  2- x 5/8-inch     Hand Cut Dies

Society of Medallists Series:

BSA Building Toward Unity, SOM Issue #46

BSA Building Toward Unity, SOM Issue #46

1930-001-046  Issue #46 Eagle Boy Scouts  1952  Society of Medalists  2 7/8-inch           Karl Heinrich Grupp

1930-036  American Girl Scouts Camp Giscowheco Medal   1930  Girl Scouts of America       Unknown Artist

Boy Scouts of America Presidents Badge

Boy Scouts of America Presidents Badge

1930-070-001  Boy Scouts of America Presidents Badge  1930  Boy Scouts of America  1- x 7/8-inch     Unknown  Artist

1930-070-002  Boy Scouts of America Presidents Badge  1930  Boy Scouts of America  1- x 7/8-inch    Unknown Artist

1931-040  Boy Scouts Quartermaster Badge  1931  Boy Scouts of America  1 3/16-inch      Hand Cut Die

1932-018  Beard (Daniel Carter) Medal  1932  Boy Scouts of Kentucky  2½-inch          Jeno Juszko

1933-043-012  Best Goodyear Boy Scout  1933  Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co    1 ½-inch     Unknown artist.

1933-043-024  Best Scout Advisor  1933  Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co    1 ½-inch       Unknown artist.

1944-010-001  Firestone Boy Scout Medallion (John W. Thomas) 1944   Firestone  3½-inch   Rene Chambellan

1944-010-002  Firestone Boy Scout Medallion (Harvey S. Firestone, Jr.)   19xx 3½-inch         Rene Chambellan

BSA Firestone Award Medal

BSA Firestone Award Medal

1944-010-003  Firestone Boy Scout Medallion (Raymond C. Firestone)  19xx  3½-inch           Rene Chambellan

BSA 50th Anniversary Medal

BSA 50th Anniversary Medal

1960-018  Boy Scouts 50th Anniversary Medal  1960  Boy Scouts of America   2½-inch           Curt Beck

1968-155  Boy Scouts of American Pedro Medal  1958   Robert Crozier  1½-inch            Hand Cut Dies

                        

History of America Series:

BSA Founded 1910 Medal

BSA Founded 1910 Medal

1972-182-135  Boy Scouts of America Founded  1972  Glendenning Co 1 9/16-inch      Model by Mico Kaufman, lettering by Ramon Gordils

1973-084  Boy Scouts of The Philippines Medal  1973  Asian Mint Corp   1½-inch           Joseph A. DiLorenzo

BSA USA Bicentennial Medal

BSA USA Bicentennial Medal

1975-099  Boy Scouts of America Bicentennial Commemorative Medal   1976  BSA  2½-inch     Ramon Gordils

1977-067  Boy Scouts of America Jamboree Medal  1977  Boy Scouts of America     Unknown Artist

1985-280  BSA International Year of the Youth Medal  1977  Unicover Frank Gasparro

1887-204  Ocean County Girl Scouts Coin Medal  1987  Ocean County Girl Scouts          Steve Adams

1987-205  Ocean County Girl Scouts Coin Medal  1987  Ocean County Girl Scouts           Tom Mangano

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A SMALL group of American sculptors, meeting in Washington DC in 1928, discussed the sad state of the art medal in America. No one was promoting such a class of medals and a previous attempt, The Circle of Friends of the Medallion, had ceased after only 12 issues in a brief existence 1909-1915.

Whether they were aware of such art medal series in France and Holland is not known but the seeds of such a series in America began to take root. The discussion continued in New York City and such a plan fell on eager ears of Clyde Curlee Trees, who had only recently acquired ownership of Medallic Art Company the year before in 1927.  He would be only too happy to manufacture such art objects but could not sponsor it himself.

What was needed was an angel, a backer, a sponsor who could underwrite the expense of promoting such a venture, however magnanimous such an act for the art world would be. Trees was fortunate in finding such a person in art patron George Dupont Pratt.

Pratt was an amateur sculptor, the Weils, Henri and Felix, had reproduced one of Pratt’s sculptural creations, Mountain Goat, as a galvano medallion in 1914.  George Pratt was the son of Charles M. Pratt who founded Pratt Institute Art School in 1887, long a Brooklyn organization for educating promising artists. He was active in art organizations and a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Would he become the backer Trees needed to launch a series of art medals? It would be a large philanthropic step but Trees was persistent. Pratt agreed and the two proceeded. Trees promotional ability and Pratt’s backing worked well.

The two found an willing artist, Laura Gardin Fraser, wife of James Earle Fraser, one of those who had been in the early discussion of such an American series. Laura Fraser prepared the models for the first medal.

Like the previous Circle of Friends, the new Society of Medallists would be sold on a subscription basis, two medals a year. The goal was to showcase American sculptors’  bas-relief art in a most appealing way. Each of the medals was to be given a different patina finish (an ambitious goal which had to be modified after about forty such patinas – the limit known at the time). Cost of a year’s subscription was nominal, only $6 for two medals. Promise of fine art in medallic form was attractive.

The launch occurred at the beginning of the Great Depression, however, it proved one fact, even in such a dour economic situation people longed for contact with Beauty, with Art. A miniature work of art in permanent metal they could in their hand filled that angst within their psyche.

Trees manage to sell 1200 initial subscriptions, an ample press run for his tiny shop. With Pratt’s backing Trees continued to promote the art medal series. In all, his Medallic Art Company would produce more than 3,000 Issue Number 1s — Laura Fraser’s Hunter and Turkey. A scene of familiar genre as the heads of many households found a Thanksgiving Dinner among the wild birds common in America.

SOM-Issue1Hunter and Turkey

SOM-Issue1Hunter and Turkey

America’s top sculptor masters are found among he names of the artists creating the early Society medals. Here we find Paul Manship, Hermon McNeil, Frederick MacMonnies, Lee Laurie, John Flanagan, Carl Paul Jennewein, Gatano Cecere, Herbert Adams, Lorado Taft – all giants in the field.

A sculpture from these artists could command thousands of dollars. One could obtain a medal – expressing their chosen art in their own style – for only a few dollars. The economy dictated a low price, but the cost of production was not that great once the models were obtained from the artist. Trees was able to eke out a tiny profit to keep his shop open, even as commercial commissions for medals dried up.

Portraits on Society medals were discouraged, but not prohibited. Issue #4 bore a portrait of nation aviation hero Chares Lindberg by MacMonnies. It was left unsaid what themes could appear on Society medals; the artists were at liberty to choose their own subject and treat it in any artistic way they wished.

What tended to appear were scenes from nature, animals, birds, mythological subjects, Biblical topics.  Aviation and astronomy were popular. Subjects of current events, which seem important at the time  tend to diminish with time. Hal Reed’s Atomic Energy of 1981 seems common place now days.

Creation was a popular theme, first presented by Anthony de Francisci in a swirling universe of unusual shape with silver patina. This was followed by Albert Wein, Donald De Lue, Katherine Lane Weems, and Joseph Coletti, each with their own interpretations of Creation in medallic form.

SOM-Issue12  Creation

SOM-Issue12 Creation

Trees was able to maintain continuity with two medals a year throughout the turbulent 1930s. There were times when the medal shop did not have enough commercial orders for medals that he had to send the employees home by noon, or whenever the little work they had on hand got done. He was thankful for the medals he had to produce for the Society.

The quantity diminished from that initial multi thousand first issue. It first went below a thousand in 1936. But what could have been the kiss of death was World War II.  Bronze became a strategic war material, needed for war armaments and ammunition. Every shot in the war came from a copper shell casing.

Use of bronze for nonessential art medals was halted. Trees solved the problem – to his credit – by issuing two medals in the dept of the war years 1943 and 1944, in silver. Obviously in smaller size to offset the higher cost of silver.

An attempt was made to maintain the Society as a separate entity from Medallic Art Company. It used a mailing address of the National Arts Club in lower Manhattan – later the Architectural League on 40th Street — as a mail drop. This appeared on stationery, newsletters, advertisements, and return address on medals sent out.  This was convenient because as soon as William Trees Louth (Clyde’s nephew) was hired in 1946, his wife was placed in charge of The Society and handled all the correspondence.

She had tired of this chore, so in the Fall of 1969 Bill Louth sought someone to replace her. He commuted from his home in Weston Connecticut to Manhattan each day, frequently had a seat companion of Harkness Cram, an account executive at J. Walter Thompson Advertising Ageny. The subject of The Society came up in conversation.

Harkness Cram was interested, volunteered his wife, Mary Louise Cram’s services, so in December 1969 Bill appointed the Crams as managers. They issued the 80th newsletter leaflet from their address, West Branch Road, Weston, Connecticut – the Society’s new address.

The following year, 1970, was the 40th anniversary of The Society. A contest was held for an anniversary medal, won by Atlanta sculptor, Julian Hoke Harris. The Crams oversaw the marketing of this medal.

With this success, Bill Louth charged the pair to increase the membership which by then had slid to 800 a year, and to increase the profitability of the medals since Medallic Art Company had, in effect, subsidized the Society for 40 years.

The Crams were able to push the membership back over a 1000. For increasing the profits they proposed to issue current medals in both bronze and silver. And, if Bill agreed, go back and reissue the early medals in silver.

At this time, Medallic Art was planning for the marketing of medals for the American Bicentennial in 1976. This, obviously, would be a great occasion for issuing medals, which, did indeed, prove true. But it was also a great occasion for Bill Louth (and the two other owners, Julius Lauth and Francis Trees) to sell the company.

They found a buyer in Donald Schwartz, who owned two other family companies. They did not need his full attention, he was looking for another small company he could manage full time. Medallic Art, with its potential for American Bicentennial business, was ideal. Schwartz raised the money among ten stockholders and the purchase was finalized January 1972.

The first major problem was that the plant in New York City was too small, the property was owned by the Trees family who wanted to sell and new equipment was needed. Ultimately a 22-acre site in Danbury Connecticut was found and a new plant was build which was completed in June 1972.

The Society of Medallists was part of the deal. It came with Medallic Art Company.

Silver medals were issued along with the bronze beginning 1973 (#87) and continued until 1979 (#100).  Schwartz liked the idea of reissung the early Society issues in silver and this began also in 1973 and ran from #1 through #49.

A subscription for a membership received two bronze medals and the cost in 1972 was $16. Under Schwartz the membership cost rose (ultimately to $120 a year) the number of members fell. Sales of the silver, once as high as 250 fell to 50 in 1979.  To save expenses Schwartz dismissed the Crams.

He replaced the Crams with retired museum official Joseph Veach Nobel as art director. Under Nobel’s influence he introduced a great variety of sculptural art into the series. But also included models by two foreign artists.

By this time, 1989, Bob Hoff acquired the Company, moved it to Sioux Falls South Dakota. Hoff attempted to continue the Society issues, but had not obtained the membership list in the acquisition. After issuing medals through #129 Hoff allowed the Society to cease.

Before I finish with this Introduction of The Society of Medallists I would like to relate some of the charming things found among these early medals.

Concordant.  Issue #15 Love by Robert Ingersoll Aitken is like sculpture in-the-round – the reverse is the back side of the obverse figure – said to be concordant.

SOM-Issue15  Concordant

SOM-Issue15 Concordant

Hidden self-portrait.  Issue #7 by Carl Paul Jennewein placed a tiny cartoon portrait of himself in his monogram signature.

Family affair.  A father and son, and a husband and wife prepared Society issues.  Adolph Weinman (#39) is the father of Robert Weinman (#69). Laura Gardidn Fraser (#1) is the wife of James Earle Fraser (#45).

Famous photograph.  Issue #31 Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima was sculpted by Rene P. Chambellan after the famous World War II phtograph by T. Rosenthal.

SOM-Issue 31  Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima

SOM-Issue 31 Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima

Most charming of all!   Cat and Mouse (#115) by Robert Weinman.

SOM-Issue 115 Cat and Mouse

SOM-Issue 115 Cat and Mouse

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Medallic Art Company Book

Medallic Art Company Book

WHILE interviewing former employees of Medallic Art Company for the authorized history of the company, they kept mentioning that a book on the firm already exists.  How could that be? I hadn’t written it yet.

“Go on eBay,” they said, “you’ll see.” I didn’t find it on eBay but I did on my favorite book source Abebooks. Sure enough, I found it listed half a dozen times by different vendors.

The title was “Medallic Art Company.” The authors were three people I never heard of before – Miller, Vandome and McBrewster. How could these people write a book on the firm I thought? Was this something from news articles, clipped and pasted to form a book, I thought?

The description was terse:  “Alphascript Pub 01/01.2013. Paperback. New Book. Shipped from US. This item is printed on demand,” and it listed a bookseller’s inventory  number.

The price was $46.64. With shipping the price was over $50. I ordered it and it arrived this week.

Disappointment. The ‘book’ is small format, 6 x 9 inches with 80 pages. The contents listed eleven articles, two references, and a page marked “License” with two lines so small it was impossible to read.

The article on Medallic Art Company was two pargraphs! One line on recent events: “In July 2009 Medallic Art Company was purchased by Northwest Territorial Mint.”

The remainder of that page listed nine sources, one of my articles on Circle of the Friends of the Medallion, two articles by authors I know, and the rest was from the internet, most from MACO website.

The two paragraphs – 142 words! – came from Wikipedia. All the text, in fact, came from Wikipedia!

Here are some of the sections:

  • Sculpture – 26 pages (49-74).  Not one word on MACO.
  • Danbury Connecticut – 11 pages (9-20).  Not one word on MACO.
  • Medal – 7 pages (34-43).  Not one word on MACO.
  • Mint (coin) – 4 pages (44-47).  Not one word on MACO.
  • Award – 1 page (2).  Not one word on MACO.

The rest of the articles are on medals made by Medallic Art – Pulitzer, Peabody, Circle of Friends, Society of Medallists.

The article on medallic art (small m, small a) – the subject – contains long lists of medallic artists by country. Two lines on page 35 state: “Mints Specializing in Art Medals / Medallic Art Company,” the only one listed.  Hooray! One correct statement of fact!

Of facts, the publisher’s page was most revealing in its statements. “All parts of the book are extracted from Wikipedia … The editors of this book are no[t] authors. … Nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information.

“Some information in this book may be misleading or wrong.” It sure is.

The book’s publisher is Alphascript Publishing, a trademark of VDM Publishing House, with an address in the Mauritius.

The cover has a color illustration of a bowl of nuts, a container of oranges and a rolled up table cover. Hardly medallic.

At 50 bucks, it costs 62.5 cents a page or about 35.6 cents a word for those 142 words in the only two paragraphs on the company, costly for something that can be obtained off the internet for free.

The book was shipped, not with a paid invoice, but a “Dispatch Note” giving the order number and the title. If you have a query about the book, an email address in the UK is provided. (I’ll bet that is where Miller, Vandome and McBrewster reside.)

The remainder of the form concerns returning the item. I’ll bet they get a lot of returns.

The firm has printing operations in the U.S., England and Germany. But one line was curious. “This book is not produced in the Mauritius.”

This wasn’t my first encounter with this outfit. Here is an article I wrote last year for the April 24th issue of E-Sylum, a weekly internet newsletter for numismatic book lovers:

The strange, lengthy book title hit me right between the eyes. It read “Medal: Sculpture, Molding (process), Casting (metalworking), Machine Press, Stamping (metalworking), Insignia, Portrait, Medallic Art, Devotional Medal, Exonumia, Militaria, Pendant, Commemorative Plaque [Book].” Whew!

Was that a list of chapters or a book title? Published in 2010 by Alphascript Publishing, the internet entry listed it as having 180 pages and appended its ISBN number.

A little pricey at $70, but if all that was in one book, it would be worth it. I was interested. I printed the one-page data sheet off the internet. But before I hit the “add to shopping list” button I got the call to dinner.

After dinner my son, visiting from Cleveland, joined me in the office. He picked up that page and handed it to me. “You know, of course, this is all copied from Wikipedia?” “What!” I exclaimed. “Is that legal?”

This German publisher gathers a group of related items from Wikipedia, designs a colorful cover, prints and binds it all together in one pamphlet. And, yes, it’s legal. In this case, a 180-page pamphlet sells for $70. That’s about 39 cents a page that you could print yourself for free from Wikipedia.

Bit of a scam?

“How can I find out more about this outfit?” I asked my son. “Check out VDM Publishing on Wikipedia,” he said, as he brought it up on the screen.

This is a legitimate self-publishing firm in Germany. They publish under the title Alphascript, Betascript and Fastbook Publishing, all English names, and Doyen Verlag in German among 14 other imprints. They specialize in publishing anything any author sends to them. They do NO editing, no fact checking, no peer review, no proofreading, no additional illustrations — whatever the author sends is what they print and bind. They do add a color cover, but the covers all look alike with only one illustration per cover.

The firm specializes in print-on-demand and publish, so they claim, over 10,000 new titles a year. In 2007 they had 70 employees.

A major part of their in-print list are academic dissertations and research reports. They invite these from every university and print those in English, German, Russian, Spanish and French only. The firm offers one copy free to each author who accepts their proposal to print their work.

For what they copy from Wikipedia, as long as they state these are, indeed, from Wikipedia they are home free. It is legitimate. They can charge whatever they wish by selling free information. Whether to purchase is the buyer’s decision.

The VDM mastermind is Wolfgang Philipp Muller, who founded Verlag Dr Muller — that’s the VDM initials — in Dusseldorf in 2002. He moved to Saarbrucken in August 2007. The book titles are listed on Amazon (in America and UK), Lightning Source, and Books on Demand in Germany.

The Wikipedia VDM entry has a section critical of VDM’s publishing practice. But it also includes a convincing VDM retort for reprinting Wikipedia articles:

Wikipedia is a valuable, quality resource, that the company has no problem asking authors for content, that buyers are informed of where information comes from, that books are a convenient form to collect articles about interesting subjects, and that its customers are satisfied with VDM’s products.

Both the firm and those three editors who are not authors have been busy recently. The new data from the current VDM entry in Wikipedia reveal they now have 78 imprints, not the 14 mentioned before.

Miller, Vandome and McBrewster have conjured up 180,707 titles! All by copying articles in Wikipedia.

Sorry, one of those titles is Medallic Art Company. Not worth the paper it is printed on.

Don’t buy this book. Get the data from Wikipedia yourself.

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142

Committee members appointed to design the National Capitol Centennial Medal in 1900- Charles Barber disregarded all their suggestions for his own design. Medal struck in metal from Capitol roof.

2,052

Medals and medallic items exhibited at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Medals at the American Numismatic Society March 1910. Medalists from 11 countries sent exhibits.

1

In-house sculptors at Medallic Art Company until it moved out of New York City, 1972. Previously any sculpture chores performed by one of the Weil brothers, founders. Ramon Gordills was hired as factory artist when the last Weil died.

21

Articles written by Georgia Chamberlain reprinted in her book American Medals and Medalists, published by her husband in 1963 after her death.

573

Medals listed by Robert Julian in his book, U.S. Mint The First Century. Artists are identified for 412 items; 161 items have unknown artists.

39

Items are not medals in book 100 Greatest Medals and Tokens by Katie Jaeger and Q. David Bowers. Counterstamped items colonial coins, Hard Times, storecards, cut coins, encased postage stamps, plus 25 others, fall in class of tokens, thus 61 true medals.

6,121

Medals made by Medallic Art Company from 1906 to 1976 and cataloged by Dick Johnson before he left the firm Jan 1977.

883

Estimated number of sculptor-medalists of medals produced by Medallic Art Co. in 1906-1976 based on a sample of records; figure could increase when all records are checked for artists.

2,044

Dies from Scovill Manufacuring’s die vault, in Waterbury, that were deemed of “historical significance” and donated to 18 museums (plus others later) at suggestion of museum consultant Bruce S. Bazelon (registrar, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Harrisburg). In 1962 He examined 15,000 dies.

80%

Estimated percentage of medals (and tokens) by unknown engravers issued in America during 19th century. Most hand engravers did not sign their work, thus engraver remains unknown.

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IN RESEARCHING the early activities of what was to become Medallic Art Company in preparation for a history of the company, and the two Weil Brothers – Henri and Felix – one fact became quite evident. The pair continued to do what they had done for as long as they had been in New York City. They served at the direction of sculptors.

The Weils acquired art training in different ways. Henri had apprenticed to sculptor George Wagner, married to their sister, and served as his assistant for four years. Later Felix was also apprenticed to his brother-in-law as well. Each morning their job was to unwrap the clay model their brother-in-law was working on. At the end of the day they would moisten the clay and wrap the clay for the night.

Odd jobs around the studio occupied their daytime activities. It was impossible, however, to work for a sculptor and not observe the techniques and learn the ability to model the clay into final form. Henri was assigned small parts to model, which would be applied to a larger model. Later Felix did the same, perhaps inspiring him to become a sculptor. He enrolled at New York’s Cooper Union for nighttime studies.

At Cooper Union the pair met other aspiring sculptors, Felix’s fellow students. Not only did these people become close friends to the Weil brothers, these same artists were to gain fame later in life. While sculptors were competitors for art commissions, they tended to congregate in New York City, center of American business at the turn of the 20th century.

After leaving the Wagner studio Henri worked for a Belgian sculptor creating statuary for the 1892-93 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. When he returned to New York he is employed by a sculptural firm preparing all the decorative work for the Waldorf Hotel.

Felix struck out on his own, left his brother-in-law and went to work for sculptor Alex Doyle, who had a commission for a Yorktown monument. After a brief period at Cooper Union, Felix also studied at night at the National Academy of Design. As work at Doyle’s studio declines he applied to Philip Martiny, who also had commissions for work at the Columbian Expo. He is sent to Chicago with Martiny‘s models, ultimately to work in the same building with his brother, each for a different sculptor.

Following a bicycle accident in Chicago, Felix spends a year in Mexico City, then returns to New York City to form a sculpture business with Jules Edouard Roiné, a partnership, Roiné & Weil to last for a decade.

Henri joins the Deitsch Brothers, ladies handbag manufacturers, as a sculptor for the fine decorative silverwork attached to their handbags, then in fashion. As often happens, fashions change neglecting the need for such decoration. Meanwhile Henri, at his employers’ insistence, imported the first Janvier pantograph to America.

To save his job, Henri suggested what he knew best: solicit work from sculptors for work for the new Janvier. Success was slow at first, but sculptors started bringing their models to Henri to cut dies to strike medals. This work from sculptors lead to the beginning of Medallic Art Company.

What I have learned was the procedure of how the Weils obtained work after they acquired ownership of the Janvier and the company name. The artists brought the work to the Weils. They knew the Weils as friends, and as part of the sculptural community in New York City.

The sculptors drove the business. This was to continue for two decades. The Weils were serving in a capacity they knew well, and did well. They could take a sculptor’s bas-relief model or models and do whatever the artist wanted, cast a galvano metal relief, or make the dies and have medals struck. The Weils had taken their talents from sculptors’ assistants to furnishing a finished sculptural product at the highest level of sculptural accomplishment.

Below is a list of 63 sculptors for whom the Weils did work – galvano casts or die-struck medals — that first two decades of the firm.  Later, after the Weils had hired Clyde Curlee Trees in 1919, he compiled a list of sculptors in 1927 who could be added to this list, prospects for new work for the Weils’ talents. Both lists follow.

Artists of MACO Medals

First Two Decades

Robert Ingersoll Aitken  (1878-1949)
Evelyn Longman Batchelder  (1874-1954)
Chester Beach  (1881-1956)
Gutzon Borglum  (1867-1941)
John Joseph Boyle  (1852-1917)
Victor David Brenner  (1871-1924)
George Thomas Brewster (1862-1943)
Richard Edwin Brooks  (1865-1919)
Roger Noble Burnham (1876-1962)
Henry Kirke Bush-Brown (1857-1935)
Charles Calverley  (1833-1914)
Pierre J. Cheron  or Pierrez Cheron (?)
Gail Sherman Corbett  (1871-1952)
Russell Gerry Crook  (1869-1955)
Leonard Crunelle  (1872-1944)
Ulysses S.J. Dunbar  (1862-1927)
Ulric Ellerhussen  (1879-1957)
Paul Fjelde  (1892-1987)
John Flanagan  (1865-1952)
James Earle Fraser  (1876-1953)
Laura Gadin Fraser  (1889-1966)
Daniel Chester French  (1850-1931)
Johanes Sophus Gelert  (1852-1923)
Louis Albert Gudebrod  (1872-1961)
Ernest Eimer Hannan  (1875-1945)
Jonathan Scott Hartley  (1845-1912)
Eli Harvey  (1860-1957)
Ernest Bruce Haswell  (1889-1965)
Henry Hering  (1874-1949)
Anna Hyatt Huntington  (1876-1973)
John Milton Jehu   (fl 1912-13)
Jeno Juszko  (1880-1954)
Thomas Hudson Jones  (1892-1969)
Gozo Kawamura (1886-1950)
Charles Keck  (1875-1951)
Ernest Wise Keyser  (1876-1959)
Isidore Konti  (1862-1938)
H. Augustus Lukeman  (1871-1935)
Edward McCartan  (1879-1947)
R. Tait McKenzie  (1867-1938)
Herman Atkins MacNeil  (1866-1947)
Paul Manship (1885-1966)
Joseph Maxwell Miller (1877-1933)
John Mowbray-Clarke  (1869-1953)
Josephine W. Newlin  (?)
Allan Newman (1875-1940)
M. Devoe White Peden [Mrs.] (?)
Attilio Piccirilli   (1868-1945)
Bela Lyon Pratt  (1867-1917)
George DuPont Pratt (1869-1935)
Steven Augustus Rebeck  (1891-1975)
Ulysses A  Ricci  (1888-1960)
Jules Edouard Roiné (1857-1916)
Augustus Saint-Gaudens  (1848-1907)
Hans Schuler (1874-1951)
Janet Scudder  (1869-1940)
Theodore Spicer-Simson  (1871-1959)
Jonathan M. Swanson   (1888-1963)
Lorado Taft (1860-1936)
Fred Martin Torrey  (1884-1967)
Adolph Weinman  (1870-1952)
Julia Bracken Wendt  (1871-1942)
Emil Robert Zettler  (1878-1946)

Additional Artists 
Trees Published in 1927

Mrs. Oakes Ames
Caroline Peddle Ball
Madeline A. Bartlett
Paul Bartlett
Edward Berge
Roger Nobel Burnham
Jules Leon Butensky
Gaetano Cecere
Rene Chambellan
Edwardo Conta
Joseph Coletti
Henri Crenier
Jorgen C. Dreyer
Antony de Francisci
Louisa Eyre
Robert Everhart
Sally James Farnam
Beatrice Fenton
Alexandra Finta
Edwin Frey
Harriett Frishmuth
Sherry Fry
Emil Fuchs
John Gregory
Beatrice Fox Griffith
Francis Grimes
Fredric V. Guinzburg
Charles Andrew Hafner
C.A. Hamann
John Hancock
Walter Hancock
Rachel M. Hawes
Leon Hermant
Frederic C. Hibbard
Charles Hinton
Malvina Hoffman
Victor S. Holm
Karl Hlava
Mrs. William Fetch Kelley
Josephine Kern
Henry Hudson Kitson
Isidore Konti
Gaston Lachaise
Anna Coleman Ladd
Albert Lasalle
Jack Lambert
Lee Lawrie
Arthur Lee
Alfred Lenz
George Lober
Frederick W. MacMonnies
Sue Watson Marshall
Joseph Martino
Herman Matzen
Harriett H. Mayor
Alfred Mewett
May Mott-Smith-Small
Mary Mowbray-Clarke
Joseph C. Motto
Eli Nadelman
Berthold Nebel
Josephine W. Nevins
Charles H. Niehaus
Violet Oakley
Sashka Paeff
Ernesto Bigni del Pratta
Ferrucio Piccirilli
Furio Piccirilli
Albin Polasek
Phinister Proctor
Brenda Putnam
Edmund T. Quinn
Frederick G. R. Roth
Charles Cary Rumsey
Antonio Salemme
Victor Salvatore
Anton Schaaf
Otto Scheizer
Ruth Sherwood
Emil Siebern
Walter A. Sinz
Karl F. Skoog
Ishmael Smith
Mrs. Lindsey M. Sterling
Eliza Talbott Taylor
Count Leo Tolstoy
Leilah Usher
Bessie Potter Vonnoh
Albert Weiner
Alice Morgan Wright
Enid Yandell
Albert C. Young
Mahonri M. Young
Marco Zim

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I was once asked to describe the Hall of Fame Series of medals in one sentence.  I wrote “One of the most popular series of medals in the world.” I should have included the word “portrait.”

Portrait medal series had existed in Europe long before. Swiss engraver Jean Dassier (1676-1763) worked in France where he created a 72-medal series of Famous French Celebrities, then moved on to England to engrave a series of British Kings and Queens.

In America the U.S. Mint struck medals of army and naval heroes at the discretion of the U.S. Congress. These were more single-issue medals that had a similarity of size and theme that seamed to fall into a series.

They struck medals bearing the portrait of presidents as they were inaugurated late in the 19th century, but overlooked, at first, earlier presidents.

Even America’s two 20th century medal series, Circle of Friends of the Medallion and The Society of Medallists overlooked portraits. They had no rule against portraits in either series, but few bore portraits.

There had been no true American portrait series until Presidential Art Medals, of Ohio, issued a series of U.S. presidents, in half dollar size, created by a top American sculptor and struck as fine art medals by Medallic Art Company.

The success of that series led to a second – honoring U.S. States – each of which bore a portrait of their most famous son, then a third series on Signers of the Declaration of Independence. All three series were created by one artist, Ralph J. Menconi (1915-1972) and all three series bore portraits on every medal, all of half dollar size, convenient for collecting, placing in an album, as collectors had done with coin series.

The success of President Art’s three series got everyone thinking about other potential medal series. In New York City, the Hall of Fame series was a natural for a medal series.

The Hall of Fame honors the most famous Americans chosen by a select group of judges and sponsored by New York University. The first election was held in 1896, and elections were held every four years thereafter.

Bronze statues of the honorees were installed along a Colonnade partially circling a building designed by famed architect Stanford White at the University’s Morningside Heights campus. Niches for 102 statues appear on both sides of the Colonnade walkway.

Once a person was elected to the Hall of Fame – the world’s first such hall of fame now widely copied by other organizations and fields – a statue was commissioned to be created slightly oversize by a a prominent American sculptor. Once cast in bronze, it was installed in its own niche in that outdoor colonnade.

I cannot say for certain who came up with the idea first, I suspect it was Medallic Art’s president Bill Louth, but it was a brilliant concept. In 1962 he formed a coalition to sponsor and market fine art medals of these most famous Hall of Fame Americans. If it was Bill Louth’s program it was in imitation of one by his uncle, Clyde Curle Trees who created The Society of Medallists, three decades earlier in 1930.

The coalition consisted of New York University, the owner of the Hall of Fame, the National Sculpture Society who would furnish an art committee, the Medallic Art Company, which would manufacture the medals, and the Coin and Currency Institute which would market the medals.

Over the next 13 years, 96 medals were created by 42 sculptors, predominately members of the National Sculpture Society. While the design was left to the artist each submission had to pass the approval of the Art Committee composed of at least five of the artists’ sculptural peers.

Rules for the medal design were simple. It had to be a portrait on the obverse, significant scene from that subject’s accomplishment for the reverse plus lettering on either side, in legend or inscription, HALL OF FAME FOR GREAT AMERICANS AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY.

Medals were struck in two sizes. A large 3-inch (76mm) bronze only, and a small 1¾-inch (44mm) size in bronze and silver. The silver medals were serially numbered.

If I had to name the persons most responsible for the success of this series if would be Julius Lauth (1913-1991),  art director at Medallic Art Company and Robert Friedberg (1912-1963) owner of Coin and Currency Institute. Lauth (no relation to  Bill Louth, just a similarity of last names to the despair of our company telephone operators) kept on top of issuing commissions to qualified sculptor-medalists, all 96 commissions.

Julius knew who was available and who would have an empathy for the subject. For the theologians, for example, he would choose a sculptor with sympathetic religious beliefs. Or of similar ethic or background heritage as the American portrayed in a relief work of art.

Julius had a dossier on each artist in his head. He was a masterful art director. Artists adored him, not only for the generous commissions he bestowed but also for his gentle demeanor and useful design suggestions. He never gave orders to artists, he was always attuned to their creative egos. In return, artists would do anything to please Julius, even if it meant another day or two completely remodeling a medal design he had briefly suggested.

But of paramount importance, if the sculptor who prepared the bronze bust in the Hall of Fame Colonnade was still alive, he would commission that artist for the medal. Such artist would already have the images still in his mind. It would be a superb companion piece to compliment their heroic sculpture in medallic form.

And in one case, where a sculptor died, as had Laura Gardin Fraser, Julius  had to retrieve what she had accomplished to that point and reassign it to an artist with similar style and aptitude, Karl Gruppe.

I also remember in a conversation with Julius he was aware of the medal sequence, commissioning lesser known honorees, holding back some more popular ones for the last of the series. He wanted to maintain collector interest right up to the end.

Robert Friedberg was a genius who build a coin dealership following World war II into a numismatic institution. His knowledge of the field, and of marketing, led him to create a coin department, a leased department in a department store. He emulated the Marcus organization which had the philatelic department in Gimbels.

In New York City at the flagship Gimbels, Friedberg establish a coin department right next to the stamp department on the first floor.  To justify the high rent, he supplied the coin department with plenty of numismatic material on a continuing basis.

The success of a New York department store led to opening coin departments in other Gimbels stores around the country. At the height of the Friedberg expansion he had coin departments in 38 states. Purchases at these departments were typical gift items, often called the “grandmother trade.” Hall of Fame medals would be ideal gifts although many adult collectors would obtain these for themselves.

Bill Louth and Bob Friedberg worked out the details of the Hall of Fame series to maximize exposure, sales and profits and to level out the workload for both organizations. They settled on a schedule of six or eight new medals a year, in the two sizes, with a silver version only in the small size, and delivery of enough quantity to supply all thirty-some-odd coin departments throughout the country. And they intended to maintain that schedule.

Each organization promoted the series. Medallic Art issued a five-inch square brochure prepared by the firm’s advertising agency. It was reported to have won awards but didn’t sell many medals. In contrast Coin and Currency issued a much thinner same-size brochure which helped sell medals and the series, but didn’t win any art awards.

Bob Friedberg died soon after the program started. The business continued, however, under his widow, Goldie and his brother, Jack Friedberg. As a family business, it was ultimately controlled by Bob’s two sons Ira and Arthur Friedberg.

In the 1980’s New York University sold their Morningside campus to City College of New York. The status of the Hall of Fame was – and is still – in limbo. Since that time no elections have been held, no new statues have been erected, and no new medals issued. Ninety-eight of the 102 niches are filled, only four remain open. Four names have been elected for those openings, however.

Visitors to New York City can still travel to Morningside Heights and walk the Colonnade, viewing the magnificent statues overlooking the Hudson River. Or they can own a a set of fine art medals created by some of the most talented medalists of the 20th century.

For the hundreds of collectors who have 90 or more of these medals they would like to have the medals created for the last honorees who have been elected, even if their statue is not in the Colonnade. That would give some closure to the series.

Below is a list of medals in order of issue, the MAco catalog number and the Colonnade location. Pictures, artists names, other data and a brief note I wrote in 2004 can be found here: www.medalcollectorsorg/Guides/HFGA.html

A gallerie of many of this series can be found here: www.medallic.com/galleries/famous_americans_gallery.php

Hall of Fame Medals Series

Position Issue Date Name Die Number ©
26 1963 Benjamin Franklin Medal. . . . . 63-1-2 1962
31 1963 Abraham Lincoln Medal. . . 63-1-3 1963
3 1963 John James Audubon Medal . 63-1-4 1962
16 1963 Walter Reed Medal. . . . . 63-1-5 1963
59 1963 Henry David Thoreau Medal. 63-1-6 1963
91 1963 Mark Twain Medal . . . . . 63-1-7 1963
79 1963 Roger Williams Medal . . . 63-1-8 1963
27 1963 George Washington Medal. . 63-1-9 1963
30 1963 Thomas Jefferson Medal . . 63-1-10     1962
88 1963 James Fenimore Cooper. . . 63-1-11 1963
80 1963 Mark Hopkins Medal . . . . 63-1-12 1963
70 1963 Susan B. Anthony Medal . . 63-1-13 1963
82 1963 Henry Ward Beecher Medal . 63-1-14 1964
5 1963 Samuel F.B. Morse Medal. . 63-1-15 1963
61 1963 Stephen C. Foster Medal. . 63-1-16 1964
93 1963 Edgar Allen Poe Medal. . . 63-1-17 1964
65 1963 Peter Cooper Medal . . . . 63-1-18 1964
4 1963 Eli Whitney Medal. . . . . 63-1-19 1964
53 1963 Ulysses S. Grant Medal . . 63-1-20 1964
58 1964 Edward A. MacDowell Medal. 63-1-21 1964
77 1964 Alice Freeman Palmer Medal 63-1-22 1964
94 1964 George Bancroft Medal. . . 63-1-23 1964
44 1964 Joseph Story Medal . . . . 63-1-24 1964
18 1964 Josiah Willard Gibbs Medal 63-1-25 1964
43 1965 John Marshall Medal. . . . 63-1-26 1964
56 1965 Robert E. Lee Medal. . . . 63-1-27 1964
11 1965 Maria Mitchell Medal . . . 63-1-28 1965
21 1965 Thomas Alva Edison Medal . 63-1-29 1965
81 1965 Phillips Brooks Medal. . . 63-1-30 1965
97 1965 Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.. 63-1-31 1965
60 1966 Daniel Boone Medal . . . . 63-1-32 1966
75 1966 Sylvanus Thayer Medal. . . 63-1-33 1966
96 1966 John Greenleaf Whittier. . 63-1-34 1966
40 1966 William Penn Medal . . . . 63-1-35 1966
32 1966 Daniel Webster Medal . . . 63-1-36 1966
38 1966 Patrick Henry Medal. . . . 63-1-37 1966
6 1966 Robert Fulton Medal. . . . 63-1-38 1966
15 1966 William Thomas Morton. . . 63-1-39 1966
39 1966 Grover Cleveland Medal . . 63-1-40 1966
12 1966 George Westinghouse Medal. 63-1-41 1966
13 1966 Louis Agassiz Medal. . . . 63-1-42 1966
42 1966 Woodrow Wilson Medal . . . 63-1-43 1967
20 & 22   1967 Wilbur & Orville Wright. . 63-1-44 1967
95 1967 William Cullen Bryant. . . 63-1-45 1967
74 1967 Mary Lyon Medal. . . . . . 63-1-46 1967
57 1967 David Glasgow Farragut . . 63-1-47 1967
37 1967 James Monroe Medal . . . . 63-1-48 1967
78 1967 Emma Willard Medal . . . . 63-1-49 1967
84 1968 William E. Channing Medal. 63-1-50 1968
99 1968 Ralph Waldo Emerson Medal. 63-1-51 1968
72 1968 Jane Addams Medal. . . . . 63-1-52 1968
55 1968 John Paul Jones Medal. . . 63-1-53 1968
101 1968 Irving Medal. . 63-1-54 1968
64 1968 Gilbert C. Stuart Medal. . 63-1-55 1968
45 1968 James Kent Medal . . . . . 63-1-56 1968
41 1968 Theodore Roosevelt Medal . 63-1-57 1968
69 1969 Frances Elizabeth Willard. 63-1-58 1969
14 1969 William C. Gorgas Medal. . 63-1-59 1969
25 1969 Thomas Paine Medal . . . . 63-1-60 1969
87 1969 Sidney Lanier Medal. . . . 63-1-61 1969
33 1969 James Madison Medal . . . 63-1-62 1969
102 1970 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 63-1-63 1970
48 1969 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.. 63-1-64 1970
68 1969 Edwin Thomas Booth Medal . 63-1-65 1970
90 1970 John Lothrop Motley Medal. 63-1-66 1970
98 1970 James Russell Lowell Medal 63-1-67 1970
10 1970 Simon Newcomb Medal. . . . 63-1-68 1970
76 1970 Booker T. Washington Medal 63-1-69 1970
66 1970 Augustus St-Gaudens Medal. 63-1-70 1970
83 1970 Horace Mann Medal. . . . . 63-1-71 1970
36 1970 Alexander Hamilton Medal . 63-1-72 1971
35 1970 Andrew Jackson Medal . . . 63-1-73 1971
92 1971 Francis Parkman Medal. . . 63-1-74 1971
1 1971 Elias Howe Medal . . . . . 63-1-75 1971
71 1971 Lillian D. Wald Medal. . . 63-1-76 1971
28 1971 John Adams Medal . . . . . 63-1-77 1971
80 1971 Walt Whitman Medal . . . . 63-1-78 1971
9 1971 James Buchanan Eads Medal. 63-1-79 1971
34 1972 John Quincy Adams Medal. . 63-1-80 1972
54 1972 T.J. Stonewall Jackson . . 63-1-81 1972
7 1972 Asa Gray Medal . . . . . . 63-1-82 1972
63 1972 James A.M. Whistler. . . . 63-1-83 1972
17 1972 Joseph Henry Medal . . . . 63-1-84 1972
85 1972 Jonathan Edwards Medal . . 63-1-85 1972
46 1973 Rufus Choate Medal . . . . 63-1-86 1973
50 1973 William Tecumseh Sherman . 63-1-87 1973
23 1973 Albert A. Michelson Medal. 63-1-88 1973
29 1973 Henry Clay Medal . . . . . 63-1-89 1973
24 1973 George Washington Carver . 63-1-90 197x
67 1973 Charlotte S. Cushman Medal 63-1-91 1974
62 1974 George Peabody Medal . . . 63-1-92 1974
8 1974 Matthew Fontaine Maury . . 63-1-93 1974
89 1974 Harriet Beecher Stowe . . 63-1-94 1975
100 1974 Nathaniel Hawthorne Medal. 63-1-95 1975
52 1974 John Philip Sousa Medal . 63-1-96 19??
    Statue created, but no medal was created:    
51   Franklin Delano Roosevelt 97  
    Voted into Hall of Fame, but no statue or medal was created:    
    Louis Dembity Brandeis 98  
    Clara Barton 99  
    Luther Burbank 100  
    Andrew Carnegie 101  

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