The medal “Inspiration” was originally issued in 1974 and in many ways was a noteworthy first. This press release was obtained after a dear reader wanted to know more about the medallion.
AMERICA’S FIRST TWO-PART MEDAL
ISSUED BY MEDALLIC ART COMPANY
Silver Issue Number One Presented to ANA Museum
Bal Harbour, Fla., August 16—”Inspiration,” the first fine art medal struck in America that opens up to reveal two additional surfaces inside—in effect America’s first multiple part medal—was exhibited to the collecting public today at the convention of the American Numismatic Association meeting here this week at the Americana Hotel.
The 2 1/4-inch medal is the creation of Frank Eliscu, a Connecticut sculptor, and is issued by Medallic Art Company of Danbury. The innovative work features the mythological horse Pegasus, symbol of inspiration.
Pegasus is shown on the obverse being released from the hand of God; the two inside surfaces show Man capturing Inspiration; and the reverse shows Man and Inspiration in harmony. The unusual medal breaks apart to reveal the two inner surfaces, convex and concave images of the same design.
This novel work of art is struck in both bronze and silver. William T. Louth, president of Medallic Art, will present serial number one of the silver version to the American Numismatic Association.
In a ceremony planned to be held Saturday, August 17th, during the awards presentation, Virginia Culver, president of the national collectors’ organization, will accept the unique silver two-part medal for the organization’s numismatic museum in Colorado Springs.
As a work of art, sculptor Eliscu was required to prepare three models—the two inner surfaces were made from the same bas-relief pattern—and to provide an interlocking rim design for the interface surfaces. He solved this design problem by creating a ring of flames, symbolizing earth, for the convex and concave surfaces.
This ring of flames design, no two of which are alike, ingeniously permits the two halves to be put back together only one way. Thus the medal breaks apart to reveal the inside designs and easily fits back together as a complete unit.
Much of the charm of the medal is, indeed, opening it up to examine the inner design and fitting it back together. The medal is made to sustain examination over many years; its finish is such that its four surfaces are protected and will not mar despite this handling.
Creating an innovative medal such as this one came easy to artist Frank Eliscu. Not only is he an accomplished sculptor, author, and teacher, but also a craftsman in many media—crystal, wax, slate, clay—and an authority on casting bronze. In fact, he has written textbooks on most of these subjects.
As a young boy Eliscu modeled figures using candles softened in hot water. He studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, Pratt Institute, and under sculptor Rudolph Evans. With maturing study, increasing recognition and a growing list of commissions, came the development of a highly individualized technique which has remained with the artist during an active career.
Among his commissions include slate carvings, sculpture in the round, and heroic reliefs, all in distinctive Eliscu style. These are complemented by a number of well executed medals, notably a Society of Medalists issue, the Architectural League of New York Collaborative Medal, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica Bicentennial Medal.
His art works include “Atoms for Peace,” a 16-foot heroic bronze figure at Ventura, California, the “Shark Diver,” an undersea fantasy, also in bronze, for Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, and “Slate Horses,” for the Bankers Trust Building in New York City.
He has had exhibitions in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan and elsewhere. His work is widely represented in private collections and museums.
He has been much awarded, including the Bennet Prize for sculpture, National Sculpture Society prize, Henry Hering award, and others. He is a fellow of the National Sculpture Society of which he is a past president, an associate of the National Academy of Design, and a member of the Architectural League of New York.
Eliscu’s sculptural forms are, as one art curator once said, “Lean forms in action, wrought with sharp detail to give an impression of wiry strength and nervous energy.” This is certainly true in this innovative medal. Innovation and creativity are nothing new to Medallic Art Company. It has many firsts to its credit, including importing the first Janvier pantograph into America. This machine is credited with the finest reductions of sculptors’ models while it simultaneously cuts a die. Previously dies were all handcut, or only a portion—as a portrait—was reduced from a sculptor’s model. Medallic Art Company struck the first private medal series produced in America, the Circle of the Friends of the Medallion; the first medal with raised lettering on the edge from engraved collars.
The firm produced the first medal with a moving part, that of a magnet, for General Electric’s dedication of its West Milton, New York, atomic plant in 1955. It produced the first medal with a Braille inscription: a fine art medal for the Library of Congress Division of the Blind, the Francis Joseph Campbell Medal, 1966, by Bruce Moore.
The 70-year-old firm also produced the first bimetal medal—with a clad strip of silver on a bronze base—for the 1967 centennial of Handy & Harmon, the precious metal dealers.
It produced the first high relief proof surface medal in 1968 and the first collectors’ plate to be made by bas-relief medallic process.
So, innovation is not new to the Medallic Art Company. It has produced the first multi-part medal similar to several from Europe, the earliest known was “Jonah in the Whale” by French medallist Rene Quillivic.
With the creation of a new product often comes new terminology. D. Wayne Johnson, who wrote the leaflet which accompanies the “Inspiration” two-part medal, states that a study of names was undertaken for the new Medal and the kind of medallic item it is.
A member of the A.N.A. Terms and Standardization Committee, Mr. Johnson said “‘Two-part’ is the shortest term used by those employees of the medal manufacturing firm, along with ‘inspiration’—its name as a work of art.
“But ‘two-part’ implies correctly there are only two components. What if the next creation were of three, or more, parts? And one far-thinking client has already explored having Medallic Art produce a 12-component item.
“Therefore the best overall term must take into consideration these multiple parts. The best term, then, for medallic items of more than one equal components is ‘multi-part’ and ‘two-part’ for those which, of course, have two parts.”
“Inspiration,” America’s first multi-part medal went on sale at the American Numismatic Association convention today. In addition to a bronze variety, at $15, the silver version—which weighs eight ounces of 999 fine silver—at $120, there is also a half-bronze and half-silver version. This sells for $60.
The medals are all serially numbered, in fact twice, once on each part of the medal.