Medals have been issued by private organizations since the early years of our country. They have been issued for a variety of reasons – to honor members, raise money, commemorate events or people, or as awards. Issuers included clubs and organizations such as the the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, the American Numismatic Association (ANA), the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and other numismatic clubs, but was not limited to them. The ANS, ANA and the various medallic organizations have traditionally produced some of the most beautiful and innovative of these medals.
The ANS began its series of medals in 1865 in the wake of President Lincoln’s assassination, beginning a long series of medals that continues to this day. The ANA began issuing medals (as opposed to badges) in 1911 when it struck the Heath Memorial medal in honor of its recently deceased founder, Dr. George F. Heath, the creator of The Numismatist. Both organizations have enlisted notable artist/engravers to produce their medals, whether for conventions or to honor worthy individuals, anniversaries or memorable events.
Regional and local coin clubs such as the Texas Numismatic Association or the Red Rose Club in Pennsylvania, medal collector organizations such as the Medal Collectors of America (MCA) or the Tokens and Medals Society (TAMS) have all issued individual and/or long-lasting series of medals. The American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA) is an artist/engraver association – its medals can be seen in their own case in this exhibit.