Login

ANA Blog

06 Sep 2016

The Final Piece in a Long and Distinguished Career

Medals | coinsbygary

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at New York University elected candidates to the hall based on their significant contributions to America. Some of hall’s honorees were people of renown in the discipline of the arts. Elected to the Hall of Fame in its inaugural year (1900), Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) who with other famous paintings is credited with painting the portraits of the first six presidents of the United States. [1][2] Today Gilbert Stuart is remembered either consciously or unconsciously every time a one dollar bill is used in commerce. This is because his incomplete “Athenaeum” portrait of George Washington appears on the face of the one dollar bill. Gilbert Stuart’s name also appears in the annals of numismatic legend. In a story that cannot be substantiated, it is said that his sketch of Philadelphia socialite Ann Willing Bingham was the basis for the obverse of the Draped Bust Dollar. [3][4] A bronze portrait bust of Gilbert Stuart done by Laura Gardin Fraser for the Hall of Fame was unveiled on May 20, 1922. The accompanying 1968 dated medal was completed by Karl Gruppe after the death of Mrs. Fraser. Karl Gruppe finished the obverse model of Gilbert Stuart started by Mrs. Fraser and designed the reverse featuring a young Gilbert Stuart working on his famous “Athenaeum” head of George Washington. [5] In spite of the quality and volume of her life work concluding with the Mary Lyon and Gilbert Stuart medals, Laura Gardin Fraser did not always receive the recognition she deserved. She would always live in the shadow of her husband made famous by the Buffalo Nickel and “The End of the Trail” sculpture. Even in her death, some 13 years after her husband’s death, her most notable epitaph was that she was the widow of James Earle Fraser. [6] Yet the many awards Mrs. Fraser received during her life from among her peers give witness to her as a leading sculptor of her time. In the private confines of their studios things were different for James and Laura. There, they considered each other as equals. Both Frasers gave each other the freedom to express themselves through their art without interference or undue influence from the other. Still the Frasers were very aware of how the public perceived them. Whenever Laura finished a commission, James and Laura had a standing bet as to how long it would take for someone to comment, “Bet Mr. Fraser helped you with this one.” One time Laura in fun snapped back at a wealthy patron, “Just who is this James Earle Fraser I keep hearing about?” [7] Today in 2016, 50 years after the death of Laura Gardin Fraser, I believe that time has righted many of the wrongs done to Mrs. Fraser as evidenced by the 1999 Washington Half-Eagle commemorative. I also think that in correcting those wrongs, history takes nothing away from James Earle Fraser. This then is exactly how I think both Frasers would have wanted it. James and Laura loved each other very much and only wanted the best for each other. They both had a full and wonderful life together doing what they loved to do best. To them it was all about the sculpted art! 1 Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_of_Fame_for_Great_Americans 2 Gilbert Stuart the Complete Works; http://www.gilbert-stuart.org/ 3 History of the United States Mint and its Coinage by David W. Lange, pg. 38 4 The US Mint and Coinage by Don Taxay, pg. 106 5 The accompanying COA to the Gilbert Stuart medal 6 The Meadowlark Gallery; http://www.meadowlarkgallery.com/FraserLaura.htm 7 The End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel; chap. 4

READ MORE
04 Sep 2016

Coin Thoughts #5 from "SUN"

Medals | "SUN"

Several years ago I visited an art museum that had an exhibited called "Portraits and Peace Medals." The origin of Indian Peace Medals is obscure, but probably had French, Spanish, and British beginnings.

READ MORE
27 Aug 2016

The NYU Hall of Fame for Great Americans Medals

Medals | coinsbygary

The New York University Hall of Fame for Great Americans is a 630 foot outdoor colonnade featuring the sculpted busts of 98 out of the 102 honorees elected into it. The Hall of Fame was conceived by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, (Chancellor of New York University from 1891 to 1910) and was formally dedicated on May 30, 1901. The Hall of Fame for Great Americans currently stands on the campus of the Bronx Community College. (New York University closed due to financial difficulties in 1973). [1] [2] The first of its kind in America, the inspiration for the hall is explained by the following paragraph copied directly from the Mary Lyon Medal COA: The spirit of The Hall of Fame is reflected in the following lines from the Old Testament: “Let us now praise famous men, by whom the Lord hath wrought great glory....All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times...” Carved in stone on the pediments of The Hall of Fame are the words: “By wealth of thought, or else by mighty deed, They served mankind in noble character. In worldwide good they live forevermore.” Mary Lyon (1797-1849) served as an educator and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1905. A pioneer in higher education for women, Mary Lyon opened the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now College). The original curriculum included mathematics, English, science, philosophy and Latin. Under her guidance and with her constant labor, the school gained a national reputation for its enlightened curriculum and high academic standards, a reputation maintained to this day. [3] The practice of issuing accompanying medals for the Hall of Fame honorees came about through a coalition between New York University, the National Sculpture Society to oversee and approve the designs, the Medallic Art Company to manufacture the medals, and the Coin and Currency Institute to market them. A full page add in the October 1962 issue of “The Numismatist” introduced the 1 3/4 inch medals for sale in either silver or bronze. Issued at a rate of about one or two per month, the issue price of the silver medal was $14 while the bronze medal sold for $3. The program which began in 1962 ended in 1974 with 96 medals created by 42 sculptors. In addition to the smaller silver and bronze medals, there were also larger 3 inch bronze medals available for purchase. The success of the Hall of Fame medal program was due in part to the art director at the Medallic Art Company, Julius Lauth. Julius knew which sculptors identified with the theme of each medal and as a result the commission for the medals was first offered to the sculptor who had completed the bronze bust on the colonnade. Therefore, since Laura Gardin Fraser did the bust of Mary Lyon in 1927, she got the commission for the accompanying medal. Mrs. Fraser completed the sketches for the Mary Lyon Medal and had them approved by the by the art committee before her death on August 14, 1966. [3] [4] [5] At Mrs. Fraser’s death, Julius Lauth assigned sculptor Karl Gruppe to finish the models for the Mary Lyon medal based on the sketches done by Mrs. Fraser. Karl Gruppe, an associate of Laura Gardin Fraser in her Art Students League days was chosen to complete the medal because his artistic style was similar to that of Mrs. Fraser’s. [4] The following is a description taken from the 1967 dated Mary Lyon Medal COA: “The obverse is a fine classical profile portrait of Miss Lyon; the reverse is a typical scene depicting her continuing role as an educator, and is a capsule story of her dedicated life”. Over her long career as a sculptor, I find it interesting that Laura Gardin Fraser was equally capable of designing medals that were feminine in nature as is the Mary Lyon medal and masculine as is the obverse of the Oregon Trail commemorative. Of certainty, Laura Gardin Fraser was a truly remarkable sculptor. 1 Bronx Community College, http://www.bcc.cuny.edu/halloffame/ 2 Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_of_Fame_for_Great_Americans 3 Mary Lyon Medal COA 4 Medalblog, Hall of Fame Series - The Most Successful Medal Program by D. Wayne Johnson, December 3, 2012 5 Hall of Fame at New York University Medal Series by D. Wayne Johnson 2004, Medal Collectors of America; http://www.medalcollectors.org/Guides/HFGA/HFGA.html

READ MORE
18 Aug 2016

The 1952 West Point USMA Sesquincentenial Medal

Medals | coinsbygary

Over her long and distinguished career Laura Gardin Fraser had a very cordial relationship with the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Both Frasers loved America and the Armed Forces of the United States. Many of their military related commissions not only included medallic art, but also full size sculptures and smaller bronzes. There are three significant works Mrs. Fraser completed for The United States Military Academy. The first is a 1952 bronze medal commemorating the sesquicentennial of the USMA. Struck by the Medallic Art Corporation, this medal was presented to the parents of the cadets who entered the academy that year. A small insert reads, “A memento of the United States Military Academy to the parents or guardians of the cadets who entered the Military Academy in the Sesquicentennial Year”. The medal’s obverse displays the flaming torch of leadership, the sword of valor, and a laurel wreath representing victory. The reverse emphasizes the United States Military Academy Coat of Arms set underneath a rising sun. Across the face of the Union Shield is a sword and the helmet of Pallas Athena. Athena is associated with the arts of war and her helmet represents wisdom and learning. Perched atop the shield is a bald eagle clutching a bundle of 13 arrows and a scroll. The scroll bears the academy’s motto, “Duty, Honor, Country” and the words, “West Point, MDCCCII (1802) USMA. In front of the eagle’s right wing is an oak branch signifying strength and on the left an olive branch signifying peace. [1] [2] Laura Gardin Fraser’s next work for the United States Military Academy was the 1957 Sylvanus Thayer medal. This medal exhibits a profile bust of Sylvanus Thayer on its obverse and the coat of arms on the reverse. The Sylvanus Thayer medal is awarded annually by the USMA Association of Graduates to an outstanding citizen who in service to America exemplifies the USMA values of duty, honor, and country. Sylvanus Thayer known as the “father of the Military Academy” served as the United States Military Academy’s Superintendent from 1817 until 1833. Under his leadership the USMA became a pioneering engineering school whose graduates were largely responsible for the construction of the nations initial rail lines, bridges, harbors, and roads. [3] [4] Laura Gardin Fraser once said that, “A sculptors life is measured in large chunks of time.” Three 9x4 bronze relief panels chronicling almost five centuries of American history represents one of those large chunks of time in Mrs. Fraser’s life. The following is quoted in an interview with Dean Krakel concerning the aforementioned panels, “I began this project making little vignettes of historical figures in clay. We seem to know so little about American history, and so having begun this in 1935, I began to accumulate an interesting collection. I started doing events from history and animals purely American like—the skunk. Then I started sorting and organizing my figures in chronological order, placing them on large tablets. These became like the leaves of a book. This essentially is how I started the project. For a long time I thought I was doing them for love of my country, as no one or institution seemed interested.” Eventually, the United States Military Academy took an interest in Mrs. Fraser’s panels and they were cast into bronze. Then finally in 1964 after nearly 30 years, they were unveiled at the dedication of the Academy’s new library in the portico of the library’s entrance. The first panel begins with the exploration of Leif Ericson and extends all the way through to the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War. The second panel includes westward expansion, the development of American political parties, and the Mexican, Civil, and Indian Wars. Panel three illustrates industrial development, modern inventions, labor unions, the depression, the World Wars, and the atomic bomb. [5] 1 The United States Military Academy West Point, http://www.usma.edu/news/sitepages/coat %20of%20arms%20and%20motto.aspx 2 Medal Commemorates West Point Sesquicentennial by Fred Reed 10/4/99, http:// www.pcgs.com/News/Medal-Commemorates-West-Point-Sesquicentennial 3 The United States Military Academy West Point, http://www.usma.edu/wphistory/SitePages/ Home.aspx 4 Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvanus_Thayer_Award 5 End of the Trail, The Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel

READ MORE
07 Aug 2016

The 1928 Lindbergh Medal

Medals | coinsbygary

On May 4, 1928, the Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution authorizing the striking of a gold medal to be presented to Charles A Lindbergh. This medal was to commemorate him for the first non-stop transatlantic flight between New York and Paris on May 20-21, 1927. In a ceremony held on August 15, 1930, President Hoover presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Charles A. Lindbergh. The resolution also provided for the striking of no more than 10 million bronze medals to be sold to the public at no cost to the treasury. Moreover, a commission was established to manage the sales. The profits from the medals were to be used for purchasing the Lindbergh homestead in Little Falls, Minnesota ($250,000) and for the construction and equipping of a Lindberg museum in St. Louis, Missouri ($250,000). Any profits exceeding the budgeted $500,000 were to be spent on aviation research. The sale of these medals continued into the 1970’s. My medal is one of the later medals as determined by the different methods of mint packaging over the years. [1] The following excerpt is copied from a notice in the January 1929 issue of The Numismatist announcing Laura Gardin Fraser as the designer of the Lindbergh gold medal; “A profile sketch of Col. Charles Lindbergh will be drawn by a woman artist chosen to design the medal, authorized by Congress, commemorating his transatlantic flight. When the young American flyer, who is known as the most photographed man in America, could not produce a suitable portrait of himself in profile, tentative sketches were submitted by artists. Mrs. Laura Gardin Fraser of Westport, Connecticut, has announced that her sketch met with approval and that Colonel Lindbergh will sit for his portrait at her New York studio. When designed the medal will have on one side a profile of the Colonel with his flying headgear on. The other side will represent an allegorical figure flying through space. The American flag will serve as part of the background while the rest of the background will be made up of stars emblematic of Colonel Lindbergh's flight through night as well as day. (Note: The picture I use as this medal’s reverse was taken at the Fraser’s New York studio. Though nobody can tell for sure, the hands shown holding the background are believed to be those of Laura Gardin Fraser.) [2] Along with Charles A. Lindbergh, the Fraser’s brushed shoulders with, or counted as friends, some of the most influential Americans of their time. Early in their marriage James was a fan and personal friend of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and if he was in New York, he seldom missed a Yankee home game. James Earle Fraser learned more from Augustus St. Gardens than just art, he also learned to play golf. At the Fraser home in West Port, Connecticut, James liked to drive golf balls from their 1.5 story, 30 x 60 foot studio. Memorable to Laura was Jimmy at their studio with Admiral King, Admiral Halsey, General Marshall and General Arnold all laughing and taking their turns hitting golf balls. [3] One of the Fraser’s closest friend was poet Edwin Arlington Robinson. Edwin was a frequent house guest of the Frasers and they often dined out together and spent their evenings playing poker. Once Laura, as described in “The End of the Trail”, cleaned out both Jimmy and Edwin with a royal flush. Another time the Fraser’s received an invitation to Thomas Edison’s home for lunch with others of his luncheon guests. Over lunch, Mr. Edison simply sat and dreamed away as his guests ate and talked. Laura sculpted a relief portrait of her close friend, Mrs. E.H. Harriman the wife of railroad magnate E.H. Harriman. A profile bust of Mrs. Harriman designed on a plaque won Laura the Saltus Medal of the National Academy of design in 1928. A sampling of the other names the Frasers met or were friends are names like Roosevelt, Ford, Byrd, and Hershey. [4] 1. The Numismatist, April 1928, pg. 234-235 2. James Earle Fraser & Laura Gardin Fraser Studio Papers, The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Box 6/Folder 4 3. End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, pg. 51-52 4. End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, Chapter 3

READ MORE
27 Jul 2016

Temperance Medal - TYRANT ALCOHOL

Medals | MedallicMan

I have intensively researched certain temperance medals and have become fascinated by the earliest which include the varieties engraved by James Bale (circa 1840's) for the WASHINGTON TEMPERANCE BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. This is most commonly referred to as the 'TYRANT ALCOHOL' medal. The very scarce but occasionally appearing at major auctions is the variety is Baker.332 (and subtypes).

READ MORE
29 Jun 2016

Olympic Medals

Medals | World_Coin_Nut

I came across this article on MSN today. It is a slide show on the production process for this years Olympic Medals. The 2 most surprising things to me are the amount of silver in them and that they are cast. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

READ MORE
23 Jun 2016

The Centennial Medal of the American Numismatic Society

Medals | coinsbygary

The American Numismatic Society was founded in New York on April 6, 1858, to advance numismatic knowledge. In 1958 the Society had reached its 100th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion Laura Gardin Fraser, winner in 1926 of the Society’s J. Sanford Saltus Award for distinguished accomplishment in medallic art, was commissioned to design the medal. A formal celebration of the Society’s Centennial was held on April 12, 1958, at the auditorium of the Society’s neighbor, the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The accompanying medal represents a continuance of the celebration and will be named the “Centennial Medal of The American Numismatic Society.” [1]The “Centennial Medal of the American Numismatic Society” was made to order through the American Numismatic Society. This 89mm bronze medal struck by the Medallic Art Company had an original purchase price of $3.50. [2] I am not sure how it came about that Mrs. Fraser got the commission to design the “Centennial Medal of The American Numismatic Society.” Nor am I in any way suggesting that there was any impropriety involved. However, I am discovering that many of America’s most prominent sculptors of the early twentieth-century were part of a small and tight knit community centered in New York at the Art Students League. Consequently, the lion’s share of commissions came to the members of this community. As an aside, I like to think of this community as the legacy of Augustus Saint-Gaudens since many of the accomplished sculptors of the early twentieth- century trained and apprenticed there under his instruction.One of those Art Students League sculptors was Anna Hyatt Huntington. Laura Gardin Fraser and Anna Hyatt Huntington were not only associates of one another, but friends. In 1923 Anna Hyatt married philanthropist, Archer Huntington. Archer Huntington was the president of the American Numismatic Society between 1905 and 1910, after which he was the Society’s honorary president and council-member until his death in 1955. [3] Due to Anna’s health, the Huntington’s bought a 9,100 acre tract of land just south of Murrell’s Inlet, SC originally intending for it to be their winter home. Born of an artistic and natural vision, the Huntington’s opened a sculpture and botanical garden on their property in 1932 that they named BrookGreen Gardens. BrookGreen Gardens was built in part as place for Anna and other sculptors to display their works of art. Today BrookGreen Gardens is a registered national historic place with 1445 works of American sculpture. [4]One of the 1445 sculptures in BrookGreen Gardens is an enormous granite sculpture of Pegasus and a rider in the clouds completed by Laura Gardin Fraser in 1954. The basis for the granite sculpture was Mrs. Fraser’s 1927 sculpture entitled “Air”. This much smaller sculpture features Pegasus being ridden by Apollo which is symbolic of man’s spirit and aspirations. [5] Therefore, I think it was Pegasus that brought this around full circle resulting with the commission for the medal going to Laura Gardin Fraser. Pegasus was a favorite subject of Mrs. Fraser’s and she has the following to say about the design features of the “Centennial Medal of The American Numismatic Society”: “The Science of Numismatics engages the imagination of the artist who creates a design in sculptured form, and the artisan who reproduces that model in permanent metal. “When Nature petrified the first forms of animal and plant life, Nature made the first dies. The obverse of the American Numismatic Society Centennial Medal shows the potential archeologist, who, having broken the stone asunder, discovers a petrified animal form in one half and in the other a perfect impression of it, or the die.

READ MORE
21 Jun 2016

The Official Bicentennial Medal of George Washington's Birth

Medals | coinsbygary

Among the greatest of accolades an artist can receive is if a group of his or hers peers recognizes them for their artistry. This honor was effectively bestowed on Laura Gardin Fraser when a special committee of sculptors selected her design for the official 1932 medal of the "United States Commission for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington." That committee made up of a virtual who's who in American sculpture consisted of Daniel Chester French, Herbert Adams, Lorado Taft, and A. A. Weinman. With the committee's selection, the National Commission of Fine Arts unanimously approved Mrs. Fraser's design to be struck by the United States Mint under the supervision of Mint Director Robert J. Grant. [1]On page 4 in the January 1934 issue of "The Numismatist" is the following description of the medal's design features. "Obverse, bust of Washington in military uniform in center. Above, "Washington," Under bust, in small letters, "Laura Gardin Fraser, Sculptor." Below in a straight line, "1782, 1932" separated by the Washington coat-of-arms. Reverse, figure of Liberty holding a torch in her uplifted right hand and a sheathed sword in her left hand. Above, to the left of the figure an eagle with outspread wings, and above, 13 stars grouped in two lines. Straight across lower half of medal in two lines separated by the figure, "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land." The reverse also shows that the eagle is perched atop a fasces. The Washington Bicentennial of Birth medal struck in platinum, silver, and bronze is 75.5mm in diameter. An exact duplicate of the bronze medal but only 58mm in diameter was struck by the US Mint for sale to collectors. The medal in my collection is the 75.5mm bronze variety. The 75.5mm bronze medal was to be "used by the United States Commission for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington as a medal of award in connection with national essay, oratorical and declamatory contests sponsored by the commission." [2]The platinum medal is one of a kind and the first ever struck in platinum by the United States Mint. Struck from the master dies, this medal weighs in at a full pound. In a ceremony on the south lawn of the White House on December 1, 1932, the platinum medal was presented to President Herbert Hoover, Chairman of United States Commission for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington. Laura Gardin Fraser was present at the Philadelphia Mint on February 4, 1932 for the striking of the platinum medal and had this to say as expressed by Charles Engelhard. "After scrutinizing the medal as it came from the press in the Medal Room of the Philadelphia Mint, Mrs. Fraser expressed her complete satisfaction with its artistic success. She pointed out that the use of platinum retained without impairment all the finest details of the sculptor's art in plaster, retaining the design without need of oxidation or other artificial treatment in order to successfully carry out the work." [3]Mrs. Fraser was very good at keeping a diary. She wrote not only of James and her's work, but also of their social life. In November of 1930 Mrs. Fraser wrote about beginning her work on the Washington Medal. In December of 1930, she wrote of completing the Washington medal for the competition. Concurrently, she wrote about celebrating James 54th birthday in November with a party at Tide Hill Tavern, near Westport, Connecticut and moving to their winter home in New York City the next day. In December Mrs. Fraser writes, "A Merry time! A beautiful, crystal clear, cold, wonderful Christmas!" [4] 1 The Numismatist, October 1931, pg. 738 2 The Numismatist, January 1934, pg. 43 The Numismatist, January 1961, pg. 18-204 End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, pg. 44-45

READ MORE
10 Jun 2016

Henry Clay Campaign Medal

Medals | World_Coin_Nut

This is a campaign medal for his last unsuccessful bid. The obverse features a portrait of Clay with the date below. The reverse has a representation of industry and sailing. This medal is graded NGC MS 62. This piece comes from the famous Dr. James McClure Collection.

READ MORE