Posts Tagged ‘James Earle Fraser’

I have a news clipping in my library that the U.S. Treasury was looking for a couple of good artists to create coin designs in 1854. Nothing became of it. The same engravers in the Philadelphia Mint’s Engraving room remained entrenched.

They created new coin designs, had dies cut and struck sample coins numismatists call “patterns.” Most were rejected.

A similar appeal appeared in 1890 with a somewhat increased response. American artists responded. While researching early American engravers I uncovered one, Hiram W. Hayden, who engraved dies for Scovill as a teenager, went on to establish his own factories in brass city Waterbury and became wealthy. He retained his interest in bas-relief design, even made wax models as a hobby. As a seventy-year-old he submitted a proposed silver dollar design of a girl’s head in answer to the Treasury’s appeal.

Again, the Treasury accepted none of the public’s proposed designs. The Mint’s engravers, George Morgan’s silver dollar and Charles Barber’s subsidiary silver coin designs were placed on the circulating coins to continue for another two decades. American coin designs remained staid and lifeless into the 20th century.

Meanwhile in Europe, coin design was developing into magnificence. The Paris Mint encouraged their engravers with support from the government and their art academies.  In Italy a school for coin and medal engraving was established at the Zecca Mint. Coin design in these countries advanced for this support.

It took a United States president, Theodore Roosevelt, and America’s greatest sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to change all that in America. Roosevelt commissioned Saint-Gaudens to create new coin designs. Understandably Mint Engravers Barber and Morgan fought this intrusion. But the president prevailed.

This set the course, inevitably, where other talented sculptors, all members of the National Sculpture Society, were successful in submitting coin designs which were accepted and placed on the circulating cons:

The Buffalo Nickel

The Buffalo Nickel

  • Victor David Brenner on the Cent
  • James Earle Fraser on the Five Cent
  • Adolph Weinman on the Dime and Half Dollar
  • Hermon MacNeil on the Quarter Dollar
  • John Flanagan on the Quarter Dollar
  • Anthony de Francisci on the Silver Dollar.

As a side note every one of those new coin designs, as well as dozens more for commemorative coin designs, Medallic Art Company was involved. Henri and Felix Weil assisted in their creation by making galvano casts, intermediate reductions, or even hubs for the artists prior to those relief designs being submitted to the U.S. Mint.

It should be noted, most importantly, these were top sculptors in the field at the time. They were seasoned artists, talented sculptors, excellent designers, consonant craftsmen, and competent modelers. They knew good design and were able to apply this to the task at hand, even on the small scale of a coin size design.

Also it should be noted the sculptor designed both obverse and reverse. The coin or medal was one unified work of art, despite the fact it had two sides, an object known in the art field as a  dyptich.

Since these were such good designs, then, why didn’t the government hire a couple of these artists to design coins full time?  The sculptors would not have accepted such restricted employment. These artists were busy full time with monuments, memorials, statues, busts, architectural work. Creating coins full time was out of scope of their desired art career.

Two events were to change coin design in America beginning in the late 1980s. One was a policy of accepting different artists designs of separate sides of any coin or medal. This first occurred in 1987. The other was that the U.S. Congress, beginning in 1988, increased authorization of commemorative coins, also increasing the work load of the U.S. Mint’s engraving department.

For the first two years Congress authorized only one new commemorative coin a year. But in 1991 it had increased to five, seven in 1992, five in 1993, eight in 1994, exploding to 20 in 1995 (with the XXVI Olympiad), and such. Sales of commemorative coins included a surcharge of funds paid to a sponsoring organization.  Politically connected organizations found this a source of easy revenue. An obliging Congress provided this.

This exploded even more so in the new century. By then the U.S. Mint had established a department for marketing coins to American citizens. The Statehood quarters began in 1999. A new quarter reverse was required every third month. This in addition to new commemoratives, and in addition to Congressional Medals authorized by Congress.

This placed tremendous demand on the limited staff of Mint engravers at the Philadelphia Mint. Mint officials turned, in an obvious move, to outside artists. What was needed was separate coin or medal designs for each new item. This then, needed to be modeled, rendered into a relief model from clay to plaster, for each side.

An attempt was made to automate that modeling somewhat by accomplishing this with computer technology. A computer savvy sculptor, Joseph Menna, was hired in 2005 to work with this new technology.

But what evolved was not the old method of one talented sculptor designing and modeling his concept in two sides, became instead four artists involved. One for the design of each side and one to model each side!

This move, perhaps in desperation, has resulted in increased mediocrity more than any other. It is the number one cause of mediocrity. An attempt to increase the attractiveness of our nation’s coins has accomplished just the opposite result.

There are subtle ways in which an artist can tie the two sides together with design elements — by repetition, by contrast, by related elements, similar lettering style — a dozen sculptural techniques. These are missing when two different artists are allowed to design separate sides.

With four artists hands and minds involved the result is an even greater mixed bag.

This had an effect on Mint sculptors, where working conditions were not the best in the first place. The work area was described as a “rabbit warren” with work tables chockablock next to each other.  The room did not inspire the best creativity.  Yet the Mint engravers, trudged on, as best as they could. The moral among the Mint engravers dissipated somewhat.

The second greatest cause of mediocrity is the closeness of multiple artists. This is so evident of factory artists everywhere. It has been explained to me as “artists tend to talk to each other, to look over each other’s shoulder, inspecting each other’s work; in time they begin copying each other, subtly perhaps, unconsciously at best. The result is a homogenized look of all their work.”  In time it all looks alike no matter which artist created it originally.

As a medal dealer, handling thousands of medals by dozens of manufacturers,

I began recognizing the work of each manufacturer. Some of this is due to the equipment they used. Much of it, however, was due to similarity of design, even

if signed by different artists. It became a mannerism of that maker, particularly if they had several factory artists.

This has happened in the U.S. Mint engraving room as well. The mint engravers have recognized this condition themselves and have tried to overcome it. I am certain the thought has often crossed their minds:  “I would be better off working in my own studio rather than here in this room!”

A third reason for existing mediocrity is compressed time. With increased number of coins and medals to create, the Mint engravers are facing pressing deadlines.  It has become, not an atmosphere of creativity, but one of an assembly line. One artist does one function, and passes it on, Another artists adds another function, while two others are doing the same thing.  All with the hope this bird will fly when all the parts are brought together.

It seldom does.

Ideally artists should have two weeks just to think about a design, to let it percolate in their conscious and subconscious. They should seek inspiration in a variety of fields, reading, viewing images of related content or subject matter, examining great medallic art. Knowing what has been produced by previous great medallic artists. Asking themselves “What can I do better than what they did?” Let their inner Muse  reign free!

While Congress can enact legislation for as many coins and medals as it wishes (and the president signs that legislation) the Engraving Department should be light on its feet to create every one of those, providing models and patterns that can be struck into desired objects by the mint where they are employed.

But remember The U.S. Mint is a government agency. It is bound by bureaucracy. What’s the incentive?  Engravers can keep their job for life if they wish. They won’t get paid more for any increased work.  Mediocre work is as good as highly creative work. Great medallic art is not encouraged here.

The fourth cause for mediocrity is money. Currently an outside designer is paid $2,500 for an accepted coin design. If they can model it, they get $5,000 more.

But not every artist can create a coin design.

Even worse, most graphic artists attempt to create glyptic coin designs. These are entirely separate art formats. Graphic artists work in two dimensions. Coin and medal artists must work, think – even dream! – in three dimensions.

Not every drawing makes a good model.  There are characteristics that make a good bas-relief model that graphic designers are unaware.  Some of these can be learned – height and bevel of relief, hide three support points on the reverse, employ texture for contrast – but much of it cannot be taught.  It comes with experience in creating relief models to be struck into coins and medals.

But if the seven artists named above are the greatest that America has produced, among the 300 at any one time who have created coins and medals – or the three thousand listed in my databank of American artists – we see how rare this talent really is.

In contrast to athletes who earn seven-figure contracts because they have the ability to perform based on their athletic prowess and talent – not many can do what they do – shouldn’t coin designers be compensated likewise. Not many artists can create great coin and medal designs.

Six things the Mint can do to create great coins and medals.

  1. Send their engravers home to work in their own studios. Keep on salary, but spend one day a month at the Mint. This day to review work, make assignments, keep up-to-date on latest developments, both within the Mint and within the industry, learn latest technology, a day of inspiration and awareness.
  2. Name an Art Director, not a Chief Engraver.  This person must be an administrator. He should know every aspect of bas-relief art, the mint technology and the capabilities of his staff. He – and this person should be male – should have knowledge of as many outside sculptors as possible who he can commission at his discretion.  He should be given power to accept or reject any design or model. He will edit all sketches and models.  He must have the temperament to work with artists who have great egos (they should!).
  3. Hire one Staff Sculptor. He is a backstop sculptor who works full time in that Engraving Room.  He (or she) accepts all models, and where necessary make any corrections or alterations demanded by the Art Director. This artist  insures a perfect model for the next step of production.
  4. Eliminate the policy of multiple artists on one coin or medal. Each artist must provide both sides for each item.
  5. Hire a Staff Art Researcher.  This person should have knowledge of picture and image resources to search out needed images for any artist. Seek these images among all sources in ample time for artists to work with. This does not preclude the artist from doing his own image research. She – typically a female researcher –should have knowledge of symbolism as well and provide suggested symbols.
  6. Establish a policy for adequate artist compensation.  A pair of circulating coin models should be compensated at $100,000. A commemorative coin or medal at $50,000.

Such a plan as outlined above will attract great artists, who will, in turn, create great coins and medals.


Read Full Post »

IN 1892 everyone, it seems, was dissatisfied with the designs of United States coins, Treasury officials as well as the public in general. The two engravers at the Philadelphia Mint, Chief Engraver Charles Barber and his assistant George Morgan, had creating coins of mediocre appeal.

Treasury officials announced a contest for the public to submit designs for new silver coin denominations.  Despite the fact they received hundreds of entries, none were found suitable. The officials had to fall back on the work of their two mint engravers. They accepted what Morgan created for a new dollar coin, and what Barber created for a single design for the half dollar, quarter and dime. But, again, their designs lack the artistic appeal of coins of European countries.

An event occurred in 1897 to change all that. Sculptor Henry Adams and a group of fellow sculptors organized the National Sculpture Society for artists interested in promoting figurative sculpture. All the top sculptors in America responded and joined the organization including Augustus Saint-Gaudens, James Earle Fraser, Victor D. Brenner, Adolph Weinman, Hermon MacNeil and  others.

During the last decade of the 1800s Henri and Felix Weil were working for many of these same sculptors as sculptors assistants. They were as accomplished as these “name” sculptors, but it was the artists with the greatest reputations who received the lush commissions for creating the monuments, the public statues, the busts of important people, all aspects of the sculpture craft.

It was Saint-Gaudens and President Theodore Roosevelt who led the movement to infuse more artistic designs into American coins. Saint-Gaudens prepared two new coin designs to replace the mediocre designs of the Mint’s staff artists. That story is well known and has been eloquently told in a new book by Michael Moran, Striking Change. [I was asked to be technical editor of this book.]

Listed here are Saint-Gaudens coin creations:


  • 1905-06 One Cent Coin (unaccepted models), Dryfhout 204A
  • 1906-07 $10 Gold Coin (unaccepted models), Dryfhout 204B
  • 1907 Eagle $10 No Motto Gold, Breen 7094-7099, KM 125
  • 1908 Eagle $10 Motto Gold, Baxter 201, Breen 7100-7137,ANS (IECM) 25, Dryfhout 204B, KM 130
  • 1907 Double Eagle $20 High Relief Prototypes, Baxter 202, Breen 7355-7361
  • 1907 Double Eagle $20 No Motto, Breen 7362-7367, Dryfhout 204C KM 126
  • 1908 Double Eagle $20 Motto, ANS (IECM) 26, Baxter 203, Breen 7368-7419, KM 127
Saint Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Coin Obverse

Saint Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Coin Obverse

Needless to say, Chief Engraver Charles Barber was not enthused with having an outside artist invading his fiefdom of U.S. coin design. He objected at every stage. Perhaps his greatest objection was Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle model that the high relief was indeed unsuitable for striking on a coining press and stacking after struck. The compromise was a lower relief.

President Roosevelt was very active in persuading the reluctant Mint officials to institute Saint-Gauden’s designs. It also led to the commission of Victor D. Brenner to receive the commission to do a Lincoln coin design. [As illustrated in the lithograph by Joel Iskowitz and published by Signature Art Medals.]

For each one of these – Saint-Gauden’s gold piece and Brenner’s coin model – Henri Weil was involved.  These artists created oversize models, too large for the engraving department at Philadelphia to reduce. It was the artists who called on Henri to make an intermediate reduction, to be able to send to the Mint the 9-inch metal pattern it required to work with.

Henri made beeswax reductions of Brenner’s Lincoln portrait and then made an appropriate size galvano to send to the Mint. At this time Henri had the Janvier die-engraving pantograph in operation and also could cast the necessary galvanos. He could do what the Mint engravers could not do!

In effect he was making patterns for all the new coin designs. And this was to continue for the next two decades!

In 1912 he began working with James Earle Fraser who had been commissioned to prepare a new five-cent coin design. A fussy perfectionist, Fraser had Henri make reductions and galvanos of his Indian head obverse, and his Buffalo-Bison reverse.  After a copper galvano came out of the tank, Fraser demanded that Henri silverplate the copper galvano and solder together the obverse and reverse to more closely look like a copper-nickel coin.

This was the first time such a pattern had been created. It inspired numismatic writer Waler Breen create a new word – ELECTROTRIAL – for Fraser’s silver plated galvanos.

In writing about this in his History of the Medallic Art Compay, Felix commented on these:  “Needless to say, as Fraser was to foot the bill himself, we were very conservative as to the amount charged.”

In 1916 Treasury officials again sought more coin designs. This time the appeal went to members of the National Sculpture Society.  Adolph Weinman  responded and was awarded the Liberty Walking half dollar and Mercury dime commissions. Hermon MacNeil created his Liberty Standing quarter – all in 1916.

These sculptors were all friends of the Weils, they had worked with some of the artists previously on a variety of sculptural projects. The Weils were among the “in crowd” in New York City sculpture circles. In Weinman’s case they had even attended the same art classes together at the Cooper Union.

This association of name sculptor and a Weil as an assistant – performing cast replicas, wax reductions, and/or galvano casts – was well established. The Weils performed a function for the artist before his model was ever sent to the Philadelphia Mint.

This was to everyone’s advantage. Both sculptor and the Mint got the very best pattern executed to technical perfection with the creativity of a top American sculptor.

No better endorsement of this can be made than the actions of the U.S. Mint itself, nine decades later, by reissuing Fraser’s Buffalo in a gold bullion coin and Weinman’s Liberty Walking in a silver bullion coin.

The Weils performed this technical function for five United States circulating coins in addition to Saint-Gauden’s gold coins.


  • 1909 Lincoln Cent Galvanos (from Victor D. Brenner’s models), Breen 2052
  • 1912 Indian-Bison (Buffalo) Nickel Galvanos (from James Earle Fraser’s models, called “electrotrials” by numismatic author Walter H. Breen), Breen 2584
  • 1916 Mercury Dime Galvanos (from Adolph Weinman’s models), Breen 3595
  • 1916 Liberty Standing Quarter Galvanos (from Hermon A. MacNeil’s models), Breen 4225
  • 1916 Liberty Walking Half Dollar Galvanos (from Adolph Weinman’s models), Breen 5124

Later they were called upon by nine additional sculpture/artists to repeat their technical proficiency nine times more for commemorative coins! In addition to reductions, galvano patterns, they also produced hubs to the U.S. Mint’s specifications. All these occurred in the 1930s. Here is that list:


  • 1934 Maryland Tercentenary Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Hans Schuler), Breen 7484
  • 1935 Hudson New York Sesquicentennial Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Chester Beach), Breen 7515
  • 1936 Providence Rhode Island Tercentenary Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Arthur Carey & John Benson), Breen 7534
  • 1936 Long Island Tercentenary Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Howard Weinman), Breen 7546
  • 1936 Bridgeport Connecticut Centennial Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Henry Kreis), Breen 7551
  • 1936 Elgin Illinois Centennial Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Trygve Rovelstad), Breen 7553
  • 1936 Delaware Swedish Tercentennial Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by Carl Schmitz), Breen 7556
  • 1936 York County Maine Tercentenary Commem Half Dollar Hubs (design by Walter H. Rich, models by George S. Pacetti, Boston, hubs by Medallic Art Co), Breen 7547
  • 1937 Roanoke Island Commem Half Dollar Hubs (by William Marks Simpson), Breen 7558

A growing amount of numismatic literature discusses the contributions the Weils made to American coins of the 20th century.  These include:

  • N16 {1967}  Taxay (Don)  Illustrated History of United States Commemorative Coinage. New York: ARCO, 256 pages, illus.
  • K24e {1982}  Dryfhout (John H.)  The Work of Augustus St- Gaudens. Hanover & London: University Press of New England (1982) 356 pages, illus.
  • M42 {1987}  Baxter (Barbara A.)  The Beaux-Arts Medal in America. New York: American Numismatic Society. For Exhibition Sept 26, 1987 to April 16, 1988. 92 pages, illus.
  • N30 {1991}  Bowers (Q. David)  Commemorative Coins of the United States, A Complete Encyclopedia. Wolfeboro, NH:  Bowers and Merena Galleries, Inc.  768 pages, illus.
  • N37 {2005}  Burdette (Roger W.)  Renaissance of American Coinage, 1916-1921. Great Falls, VA: Seneca Mill Press (2005-2997) 3 volumes: Volume 1 1905-1908 (2006) 382 pages, illus.Volume 2 1909-1915 (2007) 350 pages, illus.Volume 3 1916-1921 (2005) 343 pages, illus.
  • N38 {2008}  Bowers (Q. David) A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents. Atlanta: Whitman (2008) 294 pages, illus
  • N39 {2008}  Moran (Michael F.)  Striking Change; The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Atlanta GA: Whitman (2008) 432 pages, illus.
  • N41 {2009}  Reed (Fred) Abraham Lincoln The Image of His Greatness. Atlanta GA: Whitman (2009)  272 pages, illus.
  • N16 {1967} Taxay, p 141 (Maryland for Hans Schuler), 162 (Hudson New York for Chester Beach), 171 (Providence Rhode Island for Benson and Carey), 189 (Long Island for Howard Weinman), 207 (Bridgeport Connecticut for Henry Kreis), 210 (Swedish Delaware for Carl Schmitz), 219 (Elgin Illinois by Rovelstad), 231 (Roanoke for William Simpson), and 238 (York County Maine).
  • O12 {1988} Breen 2052, p 225-228, 2584 256, 3595 326- 327, 4225 360-362, 5124 412-413; 7484 593-594, 7515 595, 7534 597, 7546 599, 7547 599, 7551 600, 7553 600, 7556 601, 7558 602.
  • N37 {2005}  Burdette. Renaissance of American Coinage, vols 1 & 2 passim.
  • N39 {2008} Moran (Michael F.)  Striking Change; The Great Artistic Collaboration of Theodore Roosevelt and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, p 224, 227-228, 231, 243-244, 278, 351; portrait 224.

Read Full Post »

Can the relationship between the Institute of Heraldry and the Medallic Art Company be described as “requited” – of mutual admiration and gratitude? The answer is a resounding “yes.”  Respect for each organization is the mantra for the other.

While the Institute of Heraldry (IoH) is a military organization, housed on a military base and headed by a military officer, it is staffed by nearly three dozen civilian employees. It services – of providing heraldic design and related symbolism for a variety of end products – exists for all military organizations, but also to all government branches as well.

Thus it might design a shoulder patch for dozen-man military unit in a far-off war theater in one instance and a revision of the presidential seal for the White House for another. Of all the many U.S. government agencies and organizations the IoH can be credited with a high level of creativity and efficiency. It performs its functions well.

The Chief Officer of the IoH, a military officer in one of the three branches of the service, has changed often in the twenty years I have observed the organization. A new chief is appointed as his predecessor’s tour of duty expires. Thus it retains its military management. The civilian staff remains intact for the most part and that retains its experience and knowledge of its heritage.

Of all the end products the IoH may design, those of most interest to Medallic Art Company are, of course, decorations, medals bestowed for meritorious service and often of exotic design; and campaign medals, given to all who participate in a given military or naval action, all of which have some accouterment for wearing, as on a uniform. In addition, the Medallic Art Company is also interested in what is ignobly called by military medalists “table medals,” – since you can’t wear this medal, it must lie on the table.

While the IoH maintains a “bid list” of slightly under one hundred American firms, companies who are certified to manufacture the military insignia the IoH designs, only a handful are capable of striking highly detailed decorations or the long production runs of campaign medals.

Medallic Art Company has a long history of producing military medals, but this was not so in its earliest years. Following World War I, a Victory Medal was required to be given to every person who was a member of any branch of service. Herbert Adams was appointed by the War Department to oversee the production of this medal.

The sculptor James Earle Fraser was chosen to design the medal. Fraser was a very picky artist and modified his design often, working over and revising his design. He had asked the Weil brothers, Henri and Felix, to make wax reductions and galvano casts of his design each time, then changing it again as he saw a way to improve the image.

This continued for a number of times, all of which the Weils did without any prior agreement of the cost, either with Fraser, or with Adams.  Once Fraser and Adams had agreed to the design, the Weils made hubs and dies, and struck sample medals. These all had to be turned over to the government.

By this time Clyde Curlee Trees had joined with the Weils. The trio drafted the specifications of how the medals were to be produced from the dies they had just created. The required number of medals was three million. They thought they had an inside track for the striking some of these medals. They would be happy with even a third of that contract.

Since they did not have the presses – nor the capacity – for such a production, Trees negotiated with Scovill in Waterbury, Connecticut, to do the striking, and Medallic Art Company would finish the medals, mount, and package them.

The trio came up with a quote of 75 cents apiece for such a quantity and daydreamed of the profits a million medals would generate for them. When the bids were opened they ranged from 17 cents each to over a dollar. The War Department awarded a million-medal contract to that 17-cent bidder, Aronson of Newark, New Jersey, and two other manufacturers “out west.”

While the trio were heartbroken over the loss of a contract they believed they had a lock on, they still had the invoice to submit for all those wax reductions, galvanos, hubs and dies. Henri and Felix came up with a modest cost.

It was Trees, however, who pushed the amount to $3,000. Trees submitted the bill. Immediately he was called to Adams’ studio. Felix went with Trees to meet Fraser and Adams there.

In Felix own words:  “To make a long story short, I must say that our secretary [Trees] convinced Adams and Fraser as to the propriety of the amount of the bill, which was duly paid.”

But that is not the end of the story. The quality of the 17-cent Aronson medals was so poor that in Felix’s mind, the government should never have accepted them.

True to that statement, Aronson never received another order for medals from the government. And, over time, the government came to realize the inherent medallic capabilities and quality of work of Medallic Art Company.

By the second World War, the company was well entrenched in this activity. The War Department ordered those World War I medals. By 1924 ordering medals was the responsibility of the Quartermaster General. It was the accelerated needs of World War II, however, that brought about the Army Heraldic Department, in place by 1949 and charged with furnishing heraldic services to all branches of military service.

Public Law 85-263, dated September 1957, ordered the Secretary of the Army to furnish heraldic services, not only to the military branches, but to all areas of the federal government. The Institute of Heraldry was established in 1960.

Over the years, Medallic Art would bid continuously for medal jobs initiated by the Institute of Heraldry. They remained on the bid list, and entered all those bids under the following:

Bid Number    E.I. #13-1030480

Gold License  TDGL 14-0152

Medallic Art was producing decorations and campaign medals long after World War II. The firm often ran three shifts around the clock. It rented space near the little shop on East 51st Street in midtown Manhattan to set up tables where ladies would sew ribbon drapes on campaign medals. I found one order in the files for three-quarters of a million medals in the late 1940s for delivery at specified dates over a six-month period.

All this made Clyde Trees a wealthy man. He set up a new firm, Chapline Realty Corporation, where he placed all the profits and purchased two buildings on East 45th Street in New York City, ultimately to became the firm’s plant, and residential property in White Plains, New York. He was also featured in an article in Fortune magazine!

Staff sculptor. A long list of medals is noted among the company’s archives for the Institute of Heraldry. But the staff sculptors at IoH are also listed there as well, for both IoH items and their own freelance medallic work. Most notable of these was Lewis J. King and Donald A. Borja, the later even created the 99th Issue of The Society of Medalists.

This writer visited the Institute of Heraldry with film producer Mike Craven on one of his trips to the East Coast. (Mike would fly in from California; we would rent a car and drive to potential film locations. On the week we filmed Elizabeth Jones for The Medal Maker, we visited the IoH. Mike had rented a very expensive film camera, but refused to leave it in the car as we entered the IoH building. He carried it with him the entire time!)

We met with sculptor Borja, and I interviewed him for my artists’ databank. His sculptor studio was down a long hall at the end of the building. What impressed me as a researcher even more was the Institute’s library between the studio and the offices. I could have spent a month in that library! I realized then the exceptional resources – both literary and personnel – that the Institute of Heraldry possessed.

Read Full Post »