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


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