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Category: Medals & Tokens

Medallic Art Company Announces New Web Site

The world-famous Medallic Art Company announced today a new web site, , designed to better display its 100+ years of minting excellence and to provide ready access for customers and art historians to numerous product categories, galleries, and historic slide presentations and custom minting information.

The new is intuitive, which lets a site visitor navigate with ease, letting visitors examine Medallic Art Company’s custom medals, institutional chains and maces, stock and collectible medals, specialty items, lapel pins, and spinning medals and plaques. The ten new galleries feature outstanding creations of renowned sculptors such as James Earle Fraser (the Buffalo Nickel), Victor David Brenner (the Lincoln cent), and Augustus Saint-Gaudens (the ‘double eagle” coin). Since its creation, great artists have always been affiliated with Medallic Art Company.

The new website also provides a fascinating look at the entire minting process from concept to finished medallion, underscoring the complexity and artistry demanded of the sculptors, artists, die-makers, and production specialists in the creation of a fine work of art. Highlighted for visitors is the complete film, “The Medal Maker.” First shown to the Society of Medalists in 1929, it features multi-award winning coin and medal designer, sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser in her famous New York Studio in 1929 creating the models for the Special Medal of Honor for the National Sculpture Society, America’s highest sculptural award. Every step of creation and production is shown, including sketching, preparing background plate, transferring the drawing and applying clay pellets to the model, foundry casting of the pattern, die making and striking the medal at Medallic Art Company. This exceptional movie is narrated by Elizabeth Jones, sculptor, and former United States Mint Chief Engraver, from her studio in Philadelphia.

About Medallic Art Company

Medallic Art Company was formed in 1903 by Henry Weil, a highly respected French sculptor living in New York City. Through the years, the company has reproduced bas relief work of some of the most famous 20th century American sculptors, as well as many of the important medals and awards in the United States, including the Pulitzer Prize, Congressional Medal of Honor, National Medal of Science, President’s Medal for Freedom, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, and the inaugural medals for 11 United States Presidents. (more…)

Morton & Eden’s London Sale of Medals, Decorations and World Orders Nets £880,578

Auctioneer James Morton said he was extremely pleased with the results of Morton & Eden’s London sale of British War Medals and Decorations Russian and World Orders and Medals, on Tuesday November 30, 2010.

He said: “Once again there was strong interest in high quality Russian Orders, Medals and Decorations, highlighted by the £180,000 achieved against an estimate of £30,000-40,000 for the cover lot, a privately-made Russian First Class Order of St Anne.

“There were solid prices for British material, but rather less interest in gallantry medals and it was disappointing that the Iraq Military Cross awarded to Private Ryan Copping failed to find a buyer. However, we hope it will be sold privately soon.

“Another highlight was the dispersal of a small collection of Chinese Orders of the Double Dragon Type 2, which while not of the greatest rarity, were keenly contested by bidders in the room, by commission bidders and on the Internet and five telephones. Amid great excitement, the collection realised a total of more than £72,000, to the delight of the U.S. collector who had spent a lifetime acquiring and studying them.”

Also of note was the £2,620 obtained for a Military General Service Medal (1793-1814) awarded to a Maltese recipient and the £5,760 (hammer) paid for another, awarded to a Prussian man, born in Coblenz, who enlisted in the UK and served with the 5 Battalion 60th Foot.

Photo Caption: Russia, Order of St Alexander Nevsky circa 1837-39


Lot 213
*Russia, Order of St Anne, First Class, a privately-made sash badge in gold, diamonds and enamels, by ?? (or ??), St Petersburg, dated 1856, marked on suspension ring; of ‘bulbous’ form with central painted enamel portrait of the Saint surrounded by sixteen diamonds, spandrels and riband carrier also set with diamonds and angles of reverse embellished with scroll engraving, height 59.5mm (including suspension ring), width 53.8mm, carrier 38mm, very slight enamel loss at top edge of cross on reverse, of excellent quality, good extremely fine
Estimate: £30,000-40,000 SOLD FOR £180,000 Purchased by European private collector

Lot 274
*Armenia, a rare Pair of Awards attributed to Nikolai Pyotrevich Nazaryan, comprising:

i) Order of the Red Banner of Labour of Armenia, type 1, in silver and enamels, maker’s mark CC, 88 zolotniki fine, impressed no. 83 on reverse and also with original separate backplate similarly marked and numbered (but 84 zolotniki fine), well-worn overall, screwplate lacking and with losses to enamel, generally fine;

ii) Star of Armenia, badge in silver and enamels, the central medallion (originally rivetted or wired) damaged and crudely re-fixed with solder, hammer-and-sickle missing and small diameter screwpost with worn threads, fair (2)

Offered with original named Order Book for the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, dated 17th February 1940, giving the date of award no. 83 as 1st January 1939, with a photograph of the recipient in later life, well-worn; and a Former Red Partisan’s Identity Booklet, 1930’s, this with a replacement period photograph with blind-embossed N.K.V.D. stamp, also heavily worn
Estimate: £60,000-80,000 SOLD FOR £84,900 Purchased by US dealer bidding for a client (more…)

Profiles: Medal and Coin Artist Alex Shagin

Alex Shagin was born in Russia, near Leningrad, on January 21, 1947. Alexander George Shagin is the only child of George and Ekaterina Shagin. He studied at the Vera Mukhina School of Arts and Design, completing his education in 1971. Shortly after completing his education he was drafted into the soviet army where he spent a little over a year.

Following his discharge, he became an apprentice at the Leningrad Mint. As an apprentice, he submitted his diploma project, a medal of Peter the Great, to the Soviet authorities. His work was so admired that he was recommended for appointment as an artist of the mint. By 1974, Shagin had become a leading designer and sculptor.

In the 1970’s the Leningrad mint was involved mostly in the production of medals and commemorative coins. Shagin was responsible to produce at least one medal every two months. Although he was allowed a rather wide latitude in his work, all of his designs had to be approved by the Council of Art medals before they could be struck.

By the end of the 1970’s, Shagin began to become more and more concerned about the Soviet government’s control over his artistic expression. While visiting an exhibit of medals in Poland in 1978, Shagin was astonished to learn of the artistic freedom his Polish colleagues. During that visit Shagin became convinced that he had to seek artistic freedom in the West.

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David Lisot of Coin Television Interviews Alex Shagin at the recent Long Beach Expo

Upon his return to Leningrad, Shagin applied for an exit visa. This so angered the Soviet officials that he was immediately relieved of his position. After waiting more than a year, during which time he had no means of earning a living, he was finally given an exit visa. In 1979 Shagin emigrated to the United States and now resides in Santa Monica, California where he continues his art.

He has works in museums and private collections around the world, including the Hermitage Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, Yad Vashem Museum, the British Museum and the Swedish Royal Medallic Collection. In 2002, as First Vice President of the American Medallic Sculpture Association (A.M.S.A.) he participated in the Federation Internationale de le Medaille (F.I.D.E.M.) congress by designing a special presentation medal for the American Delegation–The Medal of Liberty presented to twelve individuals by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Each project Alex Shagin designs is a personal tribute to the freedom and democracy he found since immigrating to America from Russia in the 1980’s. His work on the Moscow Olympics (1980) and Los Angeles Olympics (1984) led to international recognition culminating in the American Numismatic Society’s Saltus Award in 1995. He has created works for the US Mint, Singapore Mint, Israel Government Mint, American Numismatic Association, Leningrad Mint, The White House (Ronald Reagan) to name a few.

Baldwin’s Ancient and World Coin Auction 67 & 68: The Official COINEX Auction

September 2010 brings with it “Coinex”, one of the most exciting events of the numismatic calendar and the largest Numismatic coin show in the UK. This year Baldwin’s are proud sponsors of the occasion and, as hosts of the official Coinex auction, a spectacular event awaits.

Baldwin’s two day auction is to be held over the 28 th and 29 th September and begins with the third part of the Michael Hall Collection of Renaissance and later medals, of which, parts one and two were sold earlier this year through Baldwin’s.

New York based collector and art expert Michael Hall spent over fifty years putting together an awe-inspiring collection and this, the final part, offers an array of choice pieces. Lot 2090, a 1671 Louis XIV Damascened Medal (estimate £800-1,000) by Jean Warin II is a beautifully crafted piece by arguably the best and most powerful French engraver of coin dies of the 17 th Century.

Warin (or Varin) came from a family of artists and distinguished himself primarily as a painter and sculptor. He was one of the first engravers to use the power of the medallic form for propaganda purposes in France. Carrying the title of controleur general Warin imposed strict controls over artists that they were allowed no artistic license, but were instead forced to reproduce official designs that commemorated the magnificence of the state.

This lot is a prime example of the effectiveness of his creations to this end. Lot 2614, a Gustav II Adolf Silver medal of 6-Riksdalers by medallist Sebastian Dadler, estimate £1,200 – 1,500, is another one of the stand out pieces of the sale and distinguished by the intricacy of the artwork on both the obverse and reverse of the medal. Dadler was one of the leading medallists of the 17 th Century, working widely throughout the courts of Germany and princely houses of Europe, amassing an array of high profile supporters at the time.

The Hall Collection is immediately followed by a diverse selection of commemorative medals and a section of Orders, Decorations and Medals. The extensive Commemorative medal section includes lot 3005, a fantastic 1666 Dutch silver Medal (estimate £1,500 – 2,000) depicting the “Four Days” Naval fight on the obverse and crafted by medallist Jerian Pool. The medal commemorates the famous action and carries a poem on the reverse by the Dutch writer and playwright, Joost van Vondel, which appears to have been written especially for the medal.

Commemorative and historical medals have become a feature of Baldwin’s flagship London auctions and the variety on offer in this sale is testament to the accurate cataloguing and historical referencing that assure Baldwin’s achieve the highest possible prices.

A small collection of military medals and decorations from the Seddon-Brown family are some of the most interesting pieces in the sale, most notably lot 3196, The Order of the Nile group of awards to Lieutenant Colonel Seddon-Brown J.P.O.N. the lots includes three attractive copied pictures, one of which portrays Sir Winston Churchill, with whom he worked closely and was personal friends with through his role as chairman of the Conservative party in the North East. (more…)

Baldwins UK to offer Part Two of the Michael Hall Collection of Renaissance Medals

A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd will offer an extensive collection of Renaissance and later medals formed by the New York connoisseur and fine art collector, Michael Hall. The Michael Hall Collection comprises in excess of 2000 items, making it by far the largest sale of this type since the Max and Maurice Rosenheim (Sotheby 1923) and Henry Oppenheimer (Christie’s 1936) sales.

Michael Hall has been a prolific collector of art for more than 60 years amassing vast collections with a focus on sculpture. Michael was inspired in his youth by the Kress Collection, a phenomenal collection of medals housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington that are of artistic importance, not just of historical or archaeological interest. It is therefore unsurprising that the focus of the numismatic part of the Hall collections has always been on the artistic and sculptural aspects of the medals which have augmented his interest in sculpture of all origins and periods.

The aim of the collection is to share the artistic legacy of Europe with the American people, a sentiment which still resonates with Michael. He offers his collection to the public at large with generosity and well meaning and with ‘the hope that you will be as successful as I have been in my most satisfying endeavors.’

The auction of the second part of his collection begins with a large and impressive group of Papal medals from the 15 th century onwards, from which highlights include a group of six prize medals of the Accademia di san Luca (lots 1227-1232). Founded in 1593, the academy was setup as an association of artists in Rome for the purpose of elevating the work of “artists”, including painters, sculptors and architects.

The image on the reverse of the medals was designed by Giovanni Hamerani in 1694 and was taken from a painting by Guercino. Hamerani came from a family of celebrated artists and engravers and was appointed as medallist to the pope. It has been said he possessed a purer and far superior style to other engravers of his time.

Intended as an annual competition, although it was not always the case, these medals were given in three classes and in three disciplines, painting, sculpture and architecture. The most significant of the group are lots 1227 (which carries a pre-sale estimate of £800-1200) and lot 1232 (pictured above) which is the only lot to be engraved by Bernhard Perger and has an estimate of £700-900. Other stand out pieces from the section include lots 1245 and 1246, two Clement XII medals. The first is a choice, extremely fine, 1753 Damascened Bronze Complimentary Medal, estimate £300-400 and the second is a 1733 Silver Fountain Medal of San Giovanni in Laterano, estimate £600-800. (more…)

Russian Orders Fetch Unprecedented Prices at Morton & Eden Auction


• Order of St Andrew insignia sells for £1,320,000 (world auction record)
• Order of the White Eagle insignia sells for £852,000
• Order of St Alexander Nevsky insignia sells for £576,000
• Order of St Anne Grand Cross insignia sells for £372,000

A magnificent group of recently rediscovered Orders of Knighthood conferred during the 1830s upon John George Lambton, “Radical Jack”, the first Earl of Durham, by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, Leopold I of Belgium, Otho of Greece and William IV of England, were sold for a total of £4,057,080 by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden in association with Sotheby’s today (Thursday 10 June 2010). The sale had been expected to raise £500,000.

Bidders in the room, on a bank of telephones and on the Internet ignored pre-sale estimates and spent freely on the unique collection which was being sold by a descendant.

The Orders comprised the Russian Order of St. Andrew (the highest honour the Tsar could bestow), which sold for a world auction record £1,320,000 against an estimate of £140,000-180,000; the associated Orders of St Alexander Nevsky (sold for £576,000, estimate £80,000-120,000); the White Eagle (sold for £852,000, estimate £80,000-120,00) and St Anne (£372,000, estimate £30,000-40,000). In addition, the Belgian Order of Leopold I sold for £19,200; the Greek Order of the Redeemer for £21,600, and the British Order of the Bath for £24,000.

Breast stars for the Order of St Andrew made by Nicholls and Plinke in St Petersburg and Rundell Bridge & Co., in London sold for £180,000 and £120,000 against an estimates of £5,000-7,000 respectively and a miniature collar and badge of the Order of St Andrew by Wilhelm Kämmerer of St Petersburg in 1838 sold for £240,000 against an estimate of £20,000-30,000.

Even the fitted mahogany box specially commissioned in 1838 to transport the Earl’s orders was wanted. Estimated at £600-800, it sold for £12,000.

The sale, in which every one of the 22 lots sold, was taken by Lord Poltimore, the Chairman of Sotheby’s Russia. Bidding battles were long and involved as Russian and Russian-speaking agents spoke to their clients by mobile phones, while bids also came from the packed saleroom, on the Internet and from a bank of telephones.

Bidding increments were also unpredictable. Lots which opened at a few thousand pounds suddenly leapt into the tens of thousands and beyond, while in some cases bidding rose by £100,000 at a time. There was applause when the Order of St Andrew insignia was hammered down for a world auction record price. (more…)

2010 ANA Medal Features Paul Revere

The official medal for the American Numismatic Association’s 119th Anniversary Convention, August 10-14 in Boston, is available for purchase. Designed by Jamie Franki, former master designer in the United States Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program, the medal celebrates one of Boston’s most famous citizens, Paul Revere.

The obverse depicts the engraver and patriot’s storied “Midnight Ride,” while the reverse calls to mind designs he engraved for a 2-shilling issue of colonial currency.

Franki began the design process by consulting Patrick M. Leehey, research director of the Paul Revere House and Museum in Boston.

“He suggested excellent reading material and also gave me a good idea of what Revere wore on his ride,” said Franki. “I employed the assistance of a seamstress who specializes in historic garments. She created a period-authentic outfit based on the direction I received from the Revere House. A friend let me borrow a horse for a photo shoot. I spent an afternoon at her farm in Concord (N.C.) dressed in colonial garb and riding the horse.”

From the photos, Franki created composites, sketching in Revere’s face based on portraits by various artists. He completed the design with a replica of Revere’s signature, taken from his handwritten account of the ride to Concord.

The artist relied on Clarence S. Brigham’s reference Paul Revere’s Engravings for the reverse design, examining reproductions of the colonial currency engraved by Revere to adapt his “rising sun” and “pine tree” devices from a 2-shilling note. This design anchors the legend for the ANA 119th annual convention. Two sets of initials attribute the design of the medal to Paul Revere and Franki. A border of 119 beads and a rim completes the composition.

Jamie Franki is a tenured associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Department of Art and Art History. He received his MFA from Syracuse University. In 2005, his American Bison Nickel reverse design was selected for a six-month minting. This nickel was awarded a Coin of the Year Award in 2005. In 2006, his Jefferson 1800 nickel obverse design was featured on America’s historic forward-facing circulating coin. He has also designed medals for the 2007 ANA National Money Show in Charlotte and 2008 World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore.

“I hope my efforts were worthy of such a weighty task,” Franki said. “It was truly a pleasure to research a great American hero and to celebrate his patriotism and artistry.” (more…)


Baldwins to Sell The Strickland Neville Rolfe Collection of Ancient, British and World Coins

Baldwin’s is delighted to announce the addition of yet another rare collection to their May 2010 auction, to be held on the 4 th and 5 th May at the CIPFA Conference Centre, Robert Street, London.

The Strickland Neville Rolfe Collection is an amazingly conserved compilation of Ancient, British and World coins, tokens and Commemorative medals that has been untouched and out of circulation since 1852. This numismatic collection has remained in the hands of Rolfe’s descendents since his death and brilliantly represents a snapshot of the tastes and interests of an educated English country gentleman and divine of the Victorian era.

Strickland Charles Edward Neville Rolfe was born in 1789, eldest son of General Neville of the Royal Artillery. He assumed the name and arms of Rolfe by royal warrant in 1837, upon receiving the bequest of the estates at Heacham and Sedgeford, from Edmund Rolfe, a distant relative who had no issue.

Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, BA 1812, MA 1816, he was ordained in 1814. He became domestic chaplain to the Duke of Kent in 1814 and to the Duke of Somerset in 1825. He was appointed vicar of Heacham in Norfolk in 1838. His first wife, Agnes, was the only daughter of Henry Fawcett, MP for Carlisle. They married in 1814 and had five sons and four daughters. In 1833 he married Dorothy, widow of the Rev TT Thomason, Chaplain to the Honourable East India Company.

It is known that he was an enthusiastic collector of both natural and archaeological items, as well as having a keen interest in art. Rolfe had had a number of artists staying for long periods to study artistic endevours at Heacham Hall. It is said that he had a large coach built in which he took these artists on excursions to draw and paint buildings or articles of interest in and around the area.

He was especially interested in the area of Norfolk and part of his collection of portraits of Norfolk celebrities, original drawings, topographical and antiquarian, were sold by Sotheby’s. Some of these pieces were used to extra illustrate ‘Blomefield’s History of the County of Norfolk’ (compiled by Francis Blomefield and published in 1805). Later, in 1929, a number of water-colour drawings from the collection were also used to illustrate a publication compiled by his great grandson, Clement Rolfe-Ingleby, and entitled ‘A supplement to Blomefield’s Norfolk.

Strickland Rolfe died in 1852. Heacham Hall was destroyed by fire in 1941, whilst being occupied by the

The English coins from the collection span three centuries and include some key rarities, such as the pattern “Incorrupta” crown (lot 1405), one of only eighteen known to have been struck, and the “Three Graces” crown, one of the most important and majestic coins of the English series (lot 1406, pictured above). Both the “Incorrupta” and the “Three Graces” crowns were struck by the renowned medallist, William Wyon. (more…)

World War II WASPS Receive Congressional Gold Medal

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony today in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center.  Both surviving members of the WASP, as well as representatives of deceased members of the organization, participated in the ceremony.  The medal, presented by the Congressional leadership, honors WASP members for their pioneering military service that led to reform in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The WASPs served between 1942 and 1944, ferrying aircraft between U.S. bases, testing fighter planes and towing targets for the men to practice shooting at with live ammunition. They flew more than 60,000,000 miles in every type of aircraft flown by the Army Air Corps, including the B-26 bomber – also known as the “widow maker” – and the B-29 Superfortress. Thirty-eight of them died while serving their country.

Despite their service, the women had to pay their own way to Sweetwater, Texas, for training at Avenger Field. They set up collections to help bury fallen female pilots, who – because they were considered civilians – were not given military honors. And, as the war was ending, they were forced to pay their own bus fare home. When the program was disbanded in 1944, the women’s records were classified and sealed, denying them recognition for their service.

The 1,074 WASPs were never granted military rank, never flew in combat and were denied veterans benefits until 1977. Only 300 of these female pilots survive today.

The obverse (heads side) of the WASP Congressional Gold Medal was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.  The design depicts the portrait of a WASP with three others in the foreground in period uniforms with an airborne AT-6 in the background.  Inscriptions on the obverse are WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOTS and 1942-1944.

The medal’s reverse (tails side) was designed and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.  The design features the three aircraft that the WASPs flew during their training: the AT-6, B-26 and P-51.  The WASP wings are depicted at the base of the design.  Inscriptions on the reverse are THE FIRST WOMEN IN HISTORY TO FLY AMERICAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT, ACT OF CONGRESS and 2009.

Heidi Wastweet Appointed to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

Heidi Wastweet of Seattle, Washington was appointed to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) to fill the seat reserved for a specialist in medallic sculpture.

Ms. Wastweet is a leading American Medallist and sculptor who specializes in bas-relief bronzes.

In conjunction with a wide variety of private mints she has produced over 1000 coins, medals, tokens and rare coin replicas since 1987. She was chief engraver for Sunshine Mint for 11 years and lead designer/sculptor for Global Mint for 5 years.

In 2001 she opened her own studio ( and relocated from Idaho to Seattle Washington in 2002. She served as treasurer for the American Medallic Sculpture Association from 2003-2009 and is current president and founder of Seattle Sculpture Guild as well as a member of FIDEM.

She has been featured in Coin World and Coinage magazine and exhibits her non-commission work regularly including the National Sculpture Society in New York and the Norwegian Heritage Museum in Washington.

Medal and coin credits include a 7 coin set issued by the Sultanate of Darfur, the Dean’s Award for Seattle University School of Law, Alumnus Award for Stephen F. Austin University, Mayo Clinic visiting physicians medal, Stanford University Alumni medal and Island records Willie Nelson portrait. In addition to medalic art she has also created a number of public art pieces including a recent commission for the University of Washington’s Medal of Honor Monument in Seattle and eight bronze relief panels for 12 foot high church doors for St. Paul’s in Pensacola, Florida.

Morton & Eden’s sale of The Stack Collection of Renaissance Medals Brings £1.8 million

The sale was 100% sold and set a record for an historical medal

A collection of important Renaissance medals formed by leading New York dealer-collector Lawrence R. Stack was sold by specialist auctioneers Morton & Eden in London on December 9 2009.

The sale represented the most important offering of 15th and 16th century medals from Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries to come onto the market since before the Second World War, when the Rosenheim and Oppenheimer collections were sold by Sotheby’s and Christie’s in 1923 and 1936 respectively.

The Highlight of the sale was a gold medal of Mary Tudor by Jacopo da Trezzo formerly in the Rothschild and Gaines collections and one of only two known. The medal was made in 1554, the year of her marriage to the future Philip II of Spain and was recently on display at the National Gallery, London, as part of the exhibition “Renaissance Faces”.

Below is a summary of the catalog Description:

Lot 136 – JACOPO NIZZOLA DA TREZZO (c. 1514-1589) – SOLD FOR £276,000

Mary Tudor (1516-1558), Queen of England, 1553-1558, gold medal, MARIA I REG ANGL FRANC ET HIB FIDEI DEFENSATRIX (Mary I, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith), bust left, wearing an ornately embroidered gown, a brooch with pendant pearl at the breast, and a cap adorned with jewels, with a veil falling down the back. (more…)

Russian Order of St. Catherine Medal Sells for £322,000 at Morton and Eden Auction

Normally CoinLink does not report much on Ceremonial Medals or Orders and Decorations., which although very interesting, fall a bit outside are general interests. In fact the fist major profile we ran was for the Society of the Cincinnati Washington-Lafayette ‘Badge’

catherine_1_medal_120609That piece is believed to have been specially made for George Washington in 1784. In 1824, long after Washington’s death in 1799, it was reportedly given by Washington’s adopted daughter to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who served as a two-star general in the American Revolutionary army and played an important role in the Revolutionary War against the British. The Washington-Lafayette Medal sold at Sotheby’s in December of 2007 ofr $5.3 million dollars, a result that is the all-time second highest auction price for a numismatic item.

The Order of St Catherine, Second Class badge or Lesser Cross, was made by Eduard, St. Petersburg, circa 1901-1908, with workmaster’s mark ??, in gold, diamonds and enamels. The original estimate was for £60,000-80,000

The Order of St. Catherine, the only Order of the Russian Empire for women (excluding the Order of Saint Olga, given only in 1916-1917), was founded in 1714 in order to commemorate and immortalize the actions of Empress Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great, whose selfless sale of her jewelry and property to pay the ransom of the Cossacks who were captured by the Turks in 1711 earned her the admiration of the court and country.

The statutes of the Order were first published in 1713, and on the 24th of November 1714, on the Empress’ name day, Peter the Great personally bestowed the insignia of the Order upon the Empress Catherine, creating her Grand Mistress of the Order. The order was to be limited to “Persons of the feminine sex” and was given in two classes; The Grand Cross, which entitled the bearer to wear a star and badge of the order, and the Small Cross, which entitled the bearer the right to wear the badge only. The badges were worn on the end of a red moiré sash trimmed with silver, with the embroidered motto: “Za lyubov i otchestvo” (For love, and for the Fatherland) (more…)

Unique Collection of Renaissance Medals Go Under The Hammer

A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd are delighted to announce that they have been chosen to auction the extensive collection of Renaissance and later medals formed by the New York connoisseur and fine art collector, Michael Hall.

Hall_medal_collection_baldwinThe Michael Hall collection comprises in excess of 2000 items, making it by far the largest sale of Renaissance pieces since the Max and Maurice Rosenheim (Sotheby 1923) and Henry Oppenheimer (Christie’s 1936) sales. The first auction is scheduled for May 2010.

Before turning to the world of antiques, Michael Hall’s earlier years were spent in Hollywood. Most memorably, in 1946, he was cast as Fredric March’s son in William Wyler’s “The Best Years of our Lives”. The majority of the collection was formed in the 1960s and ‘70s, a period when Hall was living for much of the time in London.

The medals were purchased from the dealers of the day, in London and other European centres, rather than at auction. Over the ensuing years the collection has remained mostly unseen. Michael Hall gifted most of his British medals to the Los Angeles County Museum some years ago, though some important pieces were retained and will be offered in the sales. The strength of the collection is in early Italian medals, otherwise it remains very comprehensive in the medals of later Italy, France, Germany, the Holy Roman Empire and the Netherlands.

There are extensive groups of Papal medals, many of which featured in the 1981 publication Roma Resurgens, Papal Medals from the Age of the Baroque; and a group of Florentine Baroque medals that will be seen as a match to the Lankheit Collection sold by Morton & Eden (May 2003).

One of the most important pieces to be included in the first sale will be Pisanello’s cast bronze portrait medal of Cecilia Gonzaga. Antonio Pisano, called Pisanello (c. 1395 – c. 1455), was the pioneering artist who, from around 1435, turned his portraiture into a medallic format, the first artist so to do. (more…)

Holabird-Kagin Americana Catalog of Mint State Pioneer Minor Coinage

kagin_holabirdHolabird-Kagin Americana has released its newest catalog in their series on pioneer minor coinage. Mint State Pioneer Minor Coinage is a 168-page catalog of certified tokens, all graded MS 60-plus. Fred Holabird, author of the catalog and partner in Holabird-Kagin Americana, stated that this catalog is the first of its kind in what he calls the “Last Frontier of Numismatics” to be professionally certified.

The catalog contains images of the obverse and reverse of each token, as well as short interesting stories on many of the pieces, particularly those from California and Nevada. The catalog’s introduction discusses a number of fascinating issues surrounding mint state tokens, including populations, hoards, manufacturer collections and restrikes.

holibird_kagins_minor_pioneerThe field of collecting tokens in mint state is new, according to Holabird, and real rarities of uncirculated pieces are still not known. As an example, many pieces rated common, with perhaps 25–50 pieces known, have no known uncirculated pieces. “This can be confusing while the dust settles on this new frontier,” stated Holabird.

Collectors have the chance of obtaining MS 65 pieces for little money, compared to their Civil War counterparts. But they might find the opportunities lacking — NGC has graded fewer than 150 pieces MS 65 thus far.

Interested collectors can contact Holabird-Kagin Americana for a catalog, $15 or free with a purchase, at or call 775-852-8822.

Former U.S. Senator Edward William Brooke III Receives Congressional Gold Medal

President Obama today presented former U.S. Senator Edward William Brooke III with the Congressional Gold Medal for his unprecedented and enduring service to the Nation. The ceremony was held in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

ed_brooke_cgmThe Congressional Gold Medal, designed and struck by the United States Mint, honors Senator Brooke’s pioneering accomplishments in public service. Senator Brooke broke new ground at a time when few African-Americans held state or Federal office. He was the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote, serving with distinction for two terms, from January 3, 1967, to January 3, 1979. During his first term, Brooke was appointed to the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders, where his work on discrimination in housing served as the basis for the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

Brooke began his career in public service as chairman of the Boston Finance Commission, where he established an outstanding record of confronting and eliminating graft and corruption. He proposed groundbreaking legislation for consumer protection and against housing discrimination and air pollution, and made state and national history in 1962 when he was elected Attorney General of Massachusetts. He also served in the U.S. Army’s segregated 366th Infantry Regiment during World War II, attaining the rank of captain, and receiving a Bronze Star.

The medal’s obverse (heads side), designed and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, features an image of the senator with the inscription EDWARD WILLIAM BROOKE on the right side. The medal’s reverse (tails side) depicts the U.S. Capitol Building at the top and the Massachusetts State House at the bottom between two olive branches. The center of the design showcases the inscription AMERICA’S GREATNESS LIES IN ITS WONDROUS DIVERSITY, OUR MAGNIFICENT PLURALISM HAS MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT, OUR EVER-WIDENING DIVERSITY WILL KEEP US GREAT. Additional inscriptions on the reverse are ACT OF CONGRESS 2008 and MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE. United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill designed and sculpted the medal’s reverse.

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Athlete Medals

ca_vancover_gold_metalAs unique as the world’s top athletes and their awe-inspiring performances, every medal won at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be a one-of-a-kind work of art. The medals, revealed today, each feature a different crop of larger contemporary Aboriginal artworks and are undulating rather than flat – both firsts in Games history.

An all-Canadian achievement, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games athlete medals are the product of the Royal Canadian Mint’s close collaboration with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) and metal supplier Teck Resources Limited. Thirty-four Mint engineers, engravers, die technicians, machinists and production experts have combined forces to create an unforgettable series of athlete medals.

The radically undulating face of the medals, evoking the iconic sea and mountains of the Vancouver- Whistler landscape, is the boldest evidence of ground-breaking creative and technical achievement writing a new chapter in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games medals. As powerful tributes to the performances of the Olympic and Paralympic Games athletes who will receive them, the athlete medals establish several milestones:

  • at 500 to 576 grams each, they are among the heaviest in Games history;
  • with totally unique designs, no two medals are alike; and
  • laser etching was used to flawlessly reproduce the unique, West Coast First Nations designs on the undulating surface of the medals.

From its Ottawa facility, the Mint produced all 615 gold, silver and bronze medals for Olympic Winter Games athletes, as well as the 399 athlete medals for Paralympic Winter Games competition. It took one year of planning, innovation and prototype development to finally bring the ambitious design of the athlete medals to life and proceed with the production phase. Thirty steps, representing 2,817 (402 days) hours of precision manufacturing, were taken to produce the medals. This complex process required:


£2 million sale will be conducted by Morton & Eden in London on December 9

lstacks_mary_tudor_medalA collection of important Renaissance medals formed by leading New York dealer-collector Lawrence R. Stack will be sold by specialist auctioneers Morton & Eden in London on December 9 2009. The medals will be sold without reserve and are expected to raise a total of around £2 million.

The sale represents the most important offering of 15th and 16th century medals from Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries to come onto the market since before the Second World War, when the Rosenheim and Oppenheimer collections were sold by Sotheby’s and Christie’s in 1923 and 1936 respectively.

The collection was assembled by Mr. Stack, who saw an opportunity to buy into a market which had been somewhat overlooked by collectors. As with other significant collections assembled by Mr. Stack, including, for instance, an important collection of early English coins sold by Sotheby’s in 1999, the medals were owned as a partnership. With Mr. Stack’s recent departure from the firm which bears his family name, the partnership profile changed and it was decided that the only equitable manner of dividing the collection was to offer it for sale at public auction. Mr. Stack himself continues to be a devotee of Renaissance art and art history and intends to remain an active collector in this field.

The decision to sell was not taken lightly and the medals are being offered for sale without reserve to encourage new buyers into the field. The entire collection of 350 pieces is estimated to fetch in the region of £2 million.

Stack’s Philadelphia Americana Coin and Currency Auction To be Highlight of New Whitman Coin Show

Stacks Philadelphia Americana Sale, Part I, will be featuring American currency (Part II, with coins, medals, and tokens is in a separate catalogue). On September 23 and 24 all eyes in the world of paper money will be focused on one of the greatest sales ever held by Stack’s.

stacks_americana_mass_schilThis is the inaugural show held by Whitman in Philadelphia. As of today, the September gathering is already a success! Or at least there is every indication of such. A “sold out” notice has been posted by one recommended hotel near the Convention Center, and rooms are going fast at the others. Word has spread, and it seems that this paper money sale will be a gathering of eagles-with just about everyone in this specialty in attendance, or represented by an agent, or bidding in real time on the Internet.

Beyond Part I and Part II of the Americana Sale, Stack’s expect that the exposition itself will be a great drawing card. Hundreds of dealers will be on hand, and some great programs will be presented. Among these will be Dave Bowers’ telling of “Famous Numismatists I Have Met-from B. Max Mehl to Date.” You are cordially invited to attend. Similar to the spectacularly successful Whitman shows in Baltimore, the Philadelphia event is very conveniently located. Draw a 500-mile circle around the city and you will probably encompass 70% or more of the numismatists in America.


Great Collectors, Great Collections

Beginning the sale is the Chester L. Krause Collection of Wisconsin Obsolete Currency, Part I. Chet, as he is known, founded Numismatic News in 1952. In time, his business acumen, energy, and enthusiasm combined to grow what became Krause Publications, with dozens of different magazines, reference books, and price guides, all based in Iola, Wisconsin. Several important texts bear his name on the cover, including the Standard Catalog of World Coins, used all over the globe, and, relevant to our present offering, Wisconsin Obsolete Bank Notes and Scrip. (more…)

Newly Found 1792 Washington Pattern Cent to be Offered for Sale

Throughout the 1860s and 1870s numismatics and coin collecting grew into a popular hobby for many people of means, and Washington pieces ascended to be one of the most popular areas in the American numismatic community. Tokens, medals, and other pieces bearing the portrait of Washington, some made in England and France and America, were avidly sought. A Description of the Medals of Washington, by James Ross Snowden, director of the mint, was published in 1861 and described the Mint Collection. In 1885 the monumental work, The Medallic Portraits of Washington, by W. S. Baker, was published in Philadelphia. In 1985, this volume was completely updated and revised by Russell Rulau and Dr. George Fuld.

From the mid-19th century to the present, Washington pieces have formed an important specialty in American Numismatics. Indeed, no major reference book is complete without mention of them, and no collection can be called comprehensive without containing examples of Washington coins and medals.

Thenicely detailed example shown here is going to be offered for sale by Heritage as par of their Long Beach Auction next month. It has smooth chestnut-brown surfaces that are free of porosity or corrosion. However, several scratches and scrapes occur on each side, including a number of rim imperfections. At the same time, it is more desirable than the Garrett-Roper coin that is well worn, or the Robison example that is holed and plugged. The finest known is the Norweb coin (Stack’s, 11/2006), that sold for $253,000.

The prior provenance is unknown, but it is from an old-time numismatic holding and has been off the market for decades, and is a new specimen to the current numismatic generation. Despite its obvious imperfections, the present specimen of the Hancock Washington pattern is extremely important and highly desirable.

Unusual Items: U.S. Assay Commission Medal Mule, 1892/1897

Assay Medal MuleThis remarkable Assay Commission medal was part of the famous Virgil M. Brand Collection, described in the Saccone Sale of November 1989 as “an impossible muling, a combination of the 1892 Benjamin Harrison obverse and the 1897 Grover Cleveland reverse. A second rarity doubtless created as a delight for a collector.”

Given the pedigree to Virgil Brand it would be no great leap in judgment to suggest that the Chicago millionaire brewer himself might well have been the influential collector hinted at in that earlier description.

A magnificent strike is complemented by gentle pervasive pearl gray toning that adds to the visual appeal of this desirable rarity, virtually a “one of a kind” addition for any seriously assembled Assay Medal collection.

From the Virgil M. Brand Collection (Bowers & Merena’s Saccone Sale, November 1989, Lot 3487.

Silver, 33.7mm, 3.2mm thick, 22.84 grams. By George T. Morgan. JK AC-36 obv., AC-41 rev. Julian-Keusch unlisted in this form.

Obv. Large bust of Benjamin Harrison l., finely beaded border.

Rev. Prudence stands with mirror and scales regarding an ancient Greek coin depicting Minerva in Corinthian helmet at r., legend .THE. MINT. OF. THE. UNITED. STATES. ANNUAL. ASSAY 1897.

This Item is for Sale in Stack’s 11/18/2008 – 11/19/2008 The Keusch, Snow & Del Zorro Collections Sale as Lot 5284

Unusual Items : 1925 Norse American Medal in Gold

1925 Norse American Medal. Struck in 22-Karat GoldBy James Earle Fraser. Viking warrior in horned helmet with sword and shield advances from dragon ship, NORSE AMERICAN CENTENNIAL, 1825 – 1925. Rev. Dragon ship sailing r. under 4-line inscription, AUTHORIZED BY/ CONGRESS OF THE/ UNITED STATES/ OF AMERICA. with date of Leif Erikson’s discovery below, A.D. 1000.

One of 100 struck in gold, 53 of which were melted unsold, leaving a net mintage of only 47. After 83 years, the larger part of this surviving mintage has been lost or destroyed, leaving a mere handful of gold Norse pieces in existence for today’s collectors. A significant rarity, of the greatest interest to collectors of U.S. commemorative coins as well as to the rapidly increasing body of medal enthusiasts.

All Norse pieces were struck with octagonal planchets, and the thick and thin silver strikes were almost the same overall diameter as U.S. commemorative half dollars. Coin collectors were made aware of the Norse when the great publishing tycoon Wayte Raymond included spaces for them in his trail-blazing National Albums of American commemorative coins. The gold specimens were unknown to most collectors, and one who remembered them was the late Max Braile of Jackson, Michigan, who long remembered acquiring one for $20 in the year of issue.

The guiding spirit behind the Norse issue was Representative Ole Juulson Kvale (1869-1929) of the Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota, which included Minneapolis. A Lutheran pastor, Kvale officiated at the second wedding of a brash, reform-minded fellow Congressman from New York City, Fiorello H. LaGuardia. Kvale wanted a commemorative half dollar, but since six issues were already authorized for 1925 he had to be content with a medal struck by the Philadelphia Mint with an eight-sided format assuring against confusion with coins.

The bold use of Viking imagery has led many collectors to believe that the pieces hailed the voyage of Leif Erikson in 1000 AD. However, the event actually honored took place 800 years later, the arrival of the first organized immigration of Norwegians to the United States. (more…)

National Treasure Medallion Series Himeji Castle Medallion

Himeji Castle MedallionThe Japan Mint is proud to release a silver medallion featuring Himeji Castle (designated as National Treasure of Japan). We have started National Treasure Medallion Series last year with the Horyuji Medallion.

The obverse side of the medal features Himeji Castle and flying white herons, while the reverse side features swallowtail (emblem of the Ikeda family), square, triangle and circle-shaped small holes (known as “Sama”) through which soldiers would shoot arrows and guns to enemies attacking the castle, and designs of castle roof tiles.

Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle was registered as the first Japanese National Cultural Treasure by UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Japanese National Cultural Treasure in December, 1993. Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, it is one of Japan’s “Three Famous Castles”, and is the most visited castle in Japan. It was constructed in its present form in the early 17th century by Terumasa Ikeda. The castle was also called “Shirasagi Castle (White Heron Castle),” because the castle tower, consisting of five levels and seven floors, and its other features such as white walls, remind of a white heron with its wings spread. Although the castle is full preparation for attack by “Sama,” etc, it has no record of being under attack.

Himeji serves as an excellent example of the prototypical Japanese castle, containing many of the defensive and architectural features most associated with Japanese castles. The tall stone foundations, whitewash walls, and organization of the buildings within the complex are standard elements of any Japanese castle, and the site also features many other examples of typical castle design, including gun emplacements and stone-dropping holes.

One of Himeji’s most important defensive elements, and perhaps its most famous, is the confusing maze of paths leading to the main keep. The gates, baileys, and outer walls of the complex are organized so as to cause an approaching force to travel in a spiral pattern around the castle on their way into the keep, facing many dead ends. This allowed the intruders to be watched and fired upon from the keep during their entire approach. However, Himeji was never attacked in this manner, and so the system remains untested. (more…)

FIDEM Medallic Sculpture Exhibit to Close Sept. 15

“The Medal Is the Message: Global Ideas in Handheld Sculpture,” an innovative exhibit at the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum, is closing on Sept. 15, and will be replaced by “A House Divided: Money of the Civil War,” opening on Oct. 9.

“Global Ideas in Handheld Sculpture,” which opened in Sept. 2007, features more than 1,400 works of art created by artists from 32 countries. The exhibit was created for the International Art Medal Federation (FIDEM) Art Medal World Congress, which was hosted by the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs. It was the first time in 20 years the prestigious event took place in the United States.

The theme of the Congress, Passages to Reconstruction, conveyed a message of hope following Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Many artists incorporated themes of tragedy and renewal in their work.

The Money Museum will celebrate the opening of “A House Divided: Money of the Civil War,” with a gala public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 9. For more information, call 719- 482-9814 or e-mail

Waterloo Medal by Benedetto Pistrucci

Waterloo Medal by PistrucciThe famous Waterloo medal by Benedetto Pistrucci is celebrated not only for its mammoth dimensions (140.8 mm, 677.5 gm), stunning beauty, and historical significance, but also for the colorful story surrounding its production. The Battle of Waterloo, perhaps one of the most important single-day battles in history, was fought on June 18, 1815, near Brussels.

Approximately 50,000 souls were lost on that fateful day. British and Prussian allied forces defeated Napoleon, thus ending over a decade of the bloody Napoleonic Wars in Europe. To immortalize the successful military campaign, the Duke of Wellington suggested that a couple of special medals be prepared.

From a July 11, 1815, letter from Master of the Mint W.W. Pole to the president of the Royal Academy:

“I have been commanded to strike two Medals at the Royal Mint in commemoration of the battles of Les Quatre Bras and Waterloo; One, in gold, of the largest size, to embrace the exploits of the allied army under the Duke of Wellington the Prince of Orange and the Duke of Brunswick, and of the Prussian Army under Field Marshal Blucher. This Medal will probably be given to each of the sovereigns in alliance with the Prince Regent, to their ministers and generals.”

Medallists were petitioned to submit designs for the medal. Pistrucci’s design was selected over a design by John Flaxman, which had been recommended by the Royal Academy. However, due to an internal strife at the Royal Mint between Pistrucci, Pole, and Wyon regarding the position of chief engraver, work on the medal got off to a slow start. Ongoing personality conflicts within the Royal Mint, salary disputes, a heavy workload, and the utter complexities of the proposed design were all contributing factors as to why it took Pistrucci 33 years to complete his masterpiece. (more…)

Secrets of Olympic Medal Minting

All the 6000 medals for the 2008 Olympics Games have arrived in the capital from the Shanghai Mint, ready for their debut on August 8. For the first time in Olympic history, the medals for the Beijing Games blend metal and jade.

Inlaying jade

The Shanghai Mint, under the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corp, works mainly in casting metal coins for circulation, and precious metal badges. It is the provider not only of the medals for the Olympic Games and Paralympics, but also of the medals for demonstration events, and commemoration badges.

For the first time in Olympic history, the medals for the Beijing Games blend metal and jade. The technology of inlaying jade into metal can be dated back to the Han Dynasty almost 2000 years ago.

Blending metal and jade is a new technique in minting coins. It is not easy to bond jade perfectly with metal. The key to the process lies in the inner layer of the medal metal and the groove of the jade ring. A seal ring is put between the inner layer and the groove to join the metal and jade together. The seal can also buffer the effect of vibration to protect the jade against impact.

Working with jade

The Jade ring must be matched with the medal metal, so it must comply with the necessary outer and inner diameters. Jade rings used for casting Olympic medals have been subject to rigorous quality controls, and those not up to the standard have been discarded.

To make use of those jade rings that do meet the quality criteria, metal medals were produced to fit the jade rings, and more than ten different sizes of seal ring were designed. (more…)

Australian Coin forger’s Charlotte Medal fetches a pretty penny

By Miki Perkins for THE AGE

The medal showing the Charlotte in Botany Bay. Photo: John WoudstraTHE crowd of medal collectors breathed a collective sigh and craned in their seats as Australia’s first piece of colonial art sold for $750,000 at auction to a beaming mystery buyer seated in the third row.

Minutes later, it was revealed that the National Maritime Museum had bought the Charlotte Medal — a silver disc engraved by the convict and expert forger Thomas Barrett when the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay. Even the most hardened medal collectors paused in their bidding to clap.

Very little material survives from the ships of the First Fleet, so the Sydney museum sent its assistant director of collection and exhibitions, Michael Crayford, to Melbourne to secure a seminal piece of Australian history.

“It is also one of the best artworks for that period (so) we’re absolutely thrilled to have it and it will be on display to the public within weeks,” Mr Crayford said.

The silver disc was sold by John Chapman, a retired dentist, who bought it at auction in 1981 for $15,000.

The rest of his extensive collection of Australian medals, coins and banknotes, valued at $1.6 million before auction, also went under the hammer at the Noble Numismatics auction yesterday. (more…)

United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Receives ANA Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture

Jim Licaretz Photo: US MintWASHINGTON – The United States Mint announced today that Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz has been named the recipient of the 2008 Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture (NAAEMS). The award, conferred by the American Numismatic Association (ANA), will be presented to Mr. Licaretz on August 2, 2008, at the ANA World’s Fair of Money® in Baltimore.

“We are pleased the panel of judges recognized Jim’s body of work,” said United States Mint Director Ed Moy. “Jim’s artistry is helping the United States Mint achieve a new level of design excellence.”

Mr. Licaretz’s works are included in numerous private collections, as well as the British Museum; the Royal Coin Cabinet; the National Museum of Economy, Stockholm, Sweden; the American Numismatic Society; and the Smithsonian Institution. His recent works for the United States Mint include the reverse design of the 2008 Bald Eagle Proof Silver Dollar Coin and the obverse design of the Andrew Jackson Presidential $1 Coin.

“To be honored with the American Numismatic Association’s award is quite a welcome surprise,” said Mr. Licaretz. “There is a great responsibility in giving form to one’s experience of life. Medallic sculpture is a unique way of recording and sharing these experiences.”

Mr. Licaretz was employed as a United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver from 1986 to 1989, and returned to the agency as a Medallic Sculptor in 2006. He also was a sculptor at Franklin Porcelain and the Franklin Mint in Pennsylvania, a master sculptor at Mattel, Inc. in California, and manager of the Sculpting Department at Artistic Solutions in California. In addition, he served as a faculty member at the Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia; Otis School of Art and Design, Los Angeles; and the Academy of Art College, San Francisco.

1781 Libertas Americana Medal in Bronzed Copper Available in Baltimore

1781 Libertas Americana Medal in Bronzed CopperUntil recently the reference by C. Wyllys Betts titled American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals (originally published in 1894; Quarterman Publications reprint, 1972) was the standard, and in many ways is still is, in terms of sheer physical descriptions and characteristics of the 623 medals listed in that volume. A more recent work, however, titled Comitia Americana and Related Medals: Underappreciated Monuments to Our Heritage by John W. Adams and Anne E. Bentley (George Frederick Kolbe, 2007) has added to collectors’ knowledge of these wonderful pieces.

The obverse shows the head of Liberty with flowing hair facing left, pole with Liberty cap behind her head, the inspiration for the 1793 Liberty Cap half cents, a design variously ascribed to Joseph Wright, Adam Eckfeldt, Henry Voigt, Robert Birch, and/or David Rittenhouse. The legend LIBERTAS.AMERICANA. encircles her head, with the date 4 JUIL. 1776 in exergue (the date of signing of the Declaration of Independence, of course). On the reverse Minerva with shield and spear protects an infant from an attacking lion, with legend around NON SINE DIIS ANIMOSUS INFANS (“The infant is not bold without divine aid”). As paraphrased from Betts:

The medal conveys an adroit compliment to the French nation. The infant Hercules stands for the new American Republic and has strangled two serpents, symbolizing the American victories at Yorktown and Saratoga (dates in reverse exergue, with DUPRE.F.)–but he is still exposed to the attack of the “cowardly” British lion, tail between his legs, whose power is baffled by Minerva. Her lily (“fleur de lis”) shield shows her to be emblematic of France, coming to the aid of the Republic. The legend is taken from an ode of Horace, “Descende coelo” (“Heaven descends”). (more…)