ANA Blog

19 Apr 2016

Finally! The Medal that Will be the Centerpiece of My New Collection

Exonumia | coinsbygary

Since I started my collection of Laura Gardin Fraser coins and medals, the 1920 American Army and Navy chaplains medal has been at the top of my list to purchase. These medals rarely become available for sale and the last one I bid in 2015, I lost. Since then I had e-bay searches set up to locate others that may become available.Though these medals are scarce, they don't cost too much since the demand is low. It's just that the people who own them rarely sell them. With a pocket full of e-bay bucks I searched for ways to spend my bucks when I came across the medal with a BIN price that just had listed only hours earlier with one watcher. I didn't give it a second thought and quickly snatched what will be the cornerstone of my medal collection. This medal struck by the Gorham Co. was awarded to all the Army and Navy chaplains of World War 1. It is also fitting that Laura Gardin Fraser should design and sculpt this medal. Both Frasers loved America and the armed forces of the United States. Laura had a long and cordial relationship with the West Point Military Academy that I will write about later. Interestingly, during WWI Laura volunteered to drive ambulances transporting wounded soldiers. Thus the obverse reveals her passion reminiscent of the Good Samaritan depicting a chaplain giving a wounded soldier a drink. As a Christian in the United States Navy in the late 70's early 80's, this medal kind of has a personal connection. On top of the chaplain of our ship providing spiritual assistance he also provided humanitarian assistance. The post Vietnam War era created a huge refugee problem. While at sea and 100 miles off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea we rescued dozens of refugees, many of them children from certain peril. It's hard to imagine what would make a person put out to sea in nothing more than a rickety wooden raft in hopes of being rescued. Only God knows the numbers of people never found. Of the ones we rescued we really adored the kids, and although the Vietnam War still triggers passionate emotions, I am proud to have been a part of that operation. Gary

19 Mar 2016

The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser

Exonumia | coinsbygary

My new set is beginning to take form with this description of what it is all about:Every pioneer who paves a new trail, marks a trail for others to follow. Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966) is the first women ever to design a US minted coin or for that matter any other world coin (The Numismatist July 2013, p. 35). As a result, this has opened the way for many other talented female sculptor/medalists to break into what had been exclusively the realm of men. That said, I don't get the impression that Laura Gardin Fraser was particularly pugnacious about breaking down barriers. Rather, I believe it was her love of sculpture and artistic expression combined with her artistic prowess that marked the trail for others to follow. Thus, as a result of my admiration of Laura Gardin Fraser as a person, pioneer and artist I created this set entitled, "The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser".Even though Laura was the wife of famed Buffalo Nickel sculptor James Earle Fraser, she was certainly a sculptor in her own right. Some have incorrectly claimed that Laura Gardin Fraser's success was based on an undue influence from her husband, but the truth is that James had always encouraged her to be individualistic. Laura is quoted as saying this about her husband, "He was a great teacher," Laura recalled. "Jimmy had the rare quality of being able to recognize what someone felt. He never liked to work in one specific manner. He encouraged individualism. Everyone loved him-especially me." (The Meadowlark Gallery) Thus, I intend to showcase many of Laura's coins along with some of her 100 plus medals in the body of this set (The Numismatist July 2013, p. 35). Through her numismatic creations, I hope to catch a glimpse of Laura Gardin Fraser's heart. There is a considerable amount of research available on James Earle and Laura Gardin Fraser including the James Earle and Laura Gardin Fraser studio papers at the Dickinson Research Center and Syracuse University Libraries. Given all the past research done on Laura Gardin Fraser, I am unlikely to unearth anything new that had been previously unknown. Thus, within the narrative of my owner comments, I intend to offer my own opinion of Laura Gardin Fraser's life passion and work based on the coins and medals themselves and on known facts about her. Where I have Laura's own comments on a particular piece, I will quote her directly. For who better can describe the intention of the medallic art than the artist themselves.I also intend to gather my facts from reliable sources such as "The Numismatist", various websites like "The Meadowlark Gallery" and books from my personal library such as "End of the Trail: The Odyssey of a Statue" (1973) by Dean Krakel. Then when I make an opinion based on a known fact I will name the source in parenthesis.From a numismatic standpoint, this set will prove to be quite a challenge. While the coins are all readily available, many of the medals are not. The medals can be divided into two categories. The first are those medals intended for sale to the general public, such as the "Society of Medalists" and the "Hall of Fame for Great Americans" series. The second are those medals given out as an award. This category includes such medals as the 1913 "Better Babies" medal and the 1920 "American Army and Navy Chaplains Medal". As a category, the second will be much more difficult and expensive to acquire. Difficult in that examples of these infrequently appear for sale and expensive as they tend to be much rarer. Therefore, this set will likely be years in the making and probably never complete. Still much of what I enjoy about this set is the "hunt" for new pieces.If they say a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a thousand times more. Thus I am posting a link to a 1929 film made by The Medallic Art Company entitled, "The Medal Maker". At one time this film was thought to be lost, but has since been found and restored by the Medallic Art Company. The film features the making of the 1929 "National Sculpture Society Special Medal of Honor" from its creation by Laura Gardin Fraser to its inaugural presentation to Daniel Chester French. The Medallic Art Company has edited the film to be narrated by the 11th and final chief engraver of the US Mint, Elizabeth Jones. The film can be viewed at The Medallic Art Company's web site via the following link.http://www.medallic.com/about/medal_maker.phpFinally, I find it most interesting that prior to 1921 no woman had ever designed a United States coin and then only 60 years later to have Elizabeth Jones become the chief engraver of the US Mint. Consequently, I can reasonably conclude that women have gained a much more prominent role in numismatics based on their artistic skill. This then is as it should be.This is a link to my new set, as always there is much more to come! Garyhttps://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=19449

13 Mar 2016

ocassional silver bars

Exonumia | user_1139

I have recently become interested in collecting one ounce silver bars of almost any theme and would like to find out more about them.

07 Feb 2016

new purchases


this post has to do with my most recent purchases. this week I purchased about 80 transportation tokens, a few amusement tokens, a car wash token,

05 Feb 2016

Mardi Gras tokens.

Exonumia | user_4339

9 2016 is Mardi Gras. In 1960 The first tokens were minted. Rex, king of Mardi Gras was the first to throw them from the floats. H. Alvin Sharp a very gifted inventor and inventor and artist, came up with the idea and designed many of them. You can find these in junk boxes garage sale or flee markets. Have fun collecting let the good Times roll.

23 Dec 2015

Photographing slabbed coins

Exonumia | Ian Fenn

Longstrider in a recent post commented about photographing Encapsulated coins( at least thats what I assume he was asking). Personally I find photographing coins in plastic prisons extremely hard to do. About 6 weeks ago  I found a solution that matches my techniques.  It may not suit other people so it would be great to have suggestions from others.  I  use lenses at the largest possible aperture, this is different to the way many others photograph coins. The technique  works for me because I have a large megapixel camera. With some of my lenses I find that if I use an F stop number higher than 8 the images I take suffer from diffraction blurring.   With the F stops I use I am working with very shallow depths of field  some times only a slice of a few microns is in focus.   I understand that one sucessful technique of photographing slabbed coins is to tilt the slab slightly.  I would imagine that would work very  well with a  deep depth of field ( using an F stop of  12 or smaller). With my technique  tilting the slab would see most of the coin out of focus.   My serendipitous  solution arose because I was trying to make a portable light source. I have used ring lights in the past but  I have found them limiting  as the light source is just too close to vertical.   I fitted the lens mount section from an un-serviceable ring light  to a polypropylene board  of 9.5 inches by 8 inches.   I then  attached  a cold white LED lighting strip to the board.     This produced a very successful lighting system that was very portable and was mains powered.  By chance I tried it on an encapsulated coin( the last photo) and I was stunned by the result.   I still have to finish the light panel off. So far one very useful modification was to fit a lens hood to the homemade panel light. I think the pictures are self explanatory. The third picture looks a little blurry the reason for that is the leds' are on in that picture.   The coin  photo shows the result that can be obtained. Cost was about US$50.00.

08 Dec 2015

Picturing Numismatics

Exonumia | wdhyder

Ian Fenn has been blogging about his photography setup. Mine is not as elaborate and you can learn a lot reading his blogs. I like to play with constructing images to show pieces from my collection with additional details or related collectibles. I like to find objects that enhance the medal or token itself.In the first example, I combined an antique beer glass from the Arlington Hotel in Santa Barbara, California (ca. 1895-97) with a store card showing the same scene as etched in the glass. A curved glass presents a challenge to show the full image, so I added a reflection to capture the end of the word "Hotel." I added reflections of the reverse of the store card to complete the effect. Its not perfect, but it begins to capture what I was trying to achieve.The second image is an official medal from the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. The reverse of the medal is set atop the indentation in the envelope from the medal.The third image is a Silver Medal diploma and the award medal that accompanied the diploma. I wanted to show the diploma (not many of these survive), the box, and the medal.Next is the 1890 California Admission Day badge issued by the Native Sons of the Golden West. They also printed a program for the event from which I have copied the ad from Hammersmith & Field in San Francisco who made the badge.The McKinley funeral badge is possibly the least interesting, but it included the first Schwaab Stamp & Seal envelope I have encountered. The envelope is fragile, so the photograph is the best way to display it.Finally, I open the box and packing from a 1930 Pine Tree Shilling souvenir from the 1930 Massachusetts Tercentenary.A few images for your consideration.

01 Dec 2015

Top 25!!!

Exonumia | ShriekenGriffon

To all my friends out there and those others who write really interesting blogs, THANK YOU!!! Without your help I wouldn't be in the top 25 on the leaderboards. Also, shout out to Kellen and User_9073 for inspiring me to keep on writing blogs and being more active! *BIG HUG*