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All Posts Tagged With: "Private Mints"

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…)


By Richard Giedroyc – HCC Rare Coins

Once upon a time gold was worth a paltry amount compared to the lofty figures it commands per ounce today. Since gold didn’t have such an incredible value, nor did it fluctuate much in price, it was practical to be used as a coinage metal.

California Fractional Gold CoinsThe United States is only one of many countries that over many centuries issued gold composition coins. As the United States expanded so did its need for circulating coinage. In 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California. People dropped whatever they were doing, sometimes almost literally, and headed for the west coast of what today is the United States to seek their fortunes. Believe it or not even the gold mines in the Carolinas and Georgia in the Appalachian Mountains were abandoned as people perceived that it would be much easier to mine the golden metal in California than in the east.

Some found what they sought. Others would be disappointed. One thing, however, was certain. If the population explosion in California was to be sustained economically either barter would have to be greatly expanded or a lot more coins than had been available were going to be needed in commerce.

The United States recognized the need for a regionally located mint to fill this need. Prior to the establishment of the San Francisco Mint facility in 1854 private parties, primarily jewelers and assayers, produced their own coinage to fill the void. Since gold was readily available while silver was not the private coinage issuers in California used gold to produce what today are generally referred to as Pioneer or Private and Territorial Gold issues.

Although most collectors will remember the more famous issues struck in denominations of $5, $10, $20, and $50, these same private minters struck fractional denominations as well. These “quarters,” “half dollars,” and “dollars” were also struck in gold, since silver was not generally as available. These coins are tiny, many of them being less than 20 millimeters in diameter.

These fractional denominations were useful in making small change, but they were also a nuisance due to their diminutive diameter. These small denomination gold coins were easily lost. There was little consistency to their designs or shapes. Some depicted the head of Liberty, while others depicted an Indian. Some were round, while others were octagonal. It was likely quite a relief once the San Francisco Mint was able to begin supplying sufficient quantities of small change coins to displace these fractional issues.

These small denominations first appeared in 1852. Some of them had as much as 85 percent of their face value as precious metal content, while others were gold plated. The Coinage Act of April 22, 1864 made all privately produced coinage illegal, however due to a lack of enforcement and poor wording of the legislation many of these small denominations continued to be issued simply without a denomination on them. For practical purposes the issues ceased after 1883, however after this date imitation tokens that were backdated to the 1850s continued to be issued right into the early part of the 20th century. (more…)