Charles E. Barber (1840-1917) was a master steel engraver and the sixth Chief Engraver of the U.S Mint in Philadelphia. He designed more United States coins and medals than any other artist.
Among the medals designed by Barber on occasion of special events of the country is the “1887 International Medical Congress Medal” (Bronze, 76 mm). The obverse, the bust of George Washington with the inscription: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA/FOUNDER OF THE REPUBLIC. On the reverse: INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CONGRESS/N.S. DAVIS PRES. J. B. HAMILTON, SEC GEN E.S.F. ARNOLD, TREAS. J. M. TONER, REG/ WASHINGTON 1887.
The group of figures on the reverse of the medal is intended to symbolize medicine. Asclepius, a god of medicine in ancient Greek religion, is here represented as a noble and venerable form, draped in classic costume, seated, holding his staff entwined by a serpent, and attentively examining a sick child, being held on his mother’s lap, who is seated on a low stool. Two men are represented as standing soliciting the services of the physician, one with a staff and bandaged head, the other supporting himself upon a crutch. (1)
The Congress was the ninth celebrated in United States with the participation of American and foreign doctors who met in Washington D.C. to share their experiences and treatments of different diseases, the medal that was engraved in the U.S. Mint was sold to all participants at a cost of 5 dollars.(2)
1.-Toner, J.M. History of the medal on the ninth international medical congress. JAMA, December 15, 1888, p. 851
2.-Journal of American Medical Association. July 30, 1887, p. 159