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Modern medals were introduced at the end of the 14th century in Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance. They are associated with the rise of humanism and the celebration of the works of mankind that occurred during that period. Inspiration was drawn from the ancient past, especially the officially-issued coins and medallions of ancient Rome that celebrated rulers and their accomplishments. With the dawn of the Renaissance, realistic works of art – especially portraits – began to be commissioned by wealthy rulers, aristocrats and merchants to celebrate themselves, their families and their accomplishments through sculpture or painting. At the same time a new medium of expression developed in the form of the portrait medal which could be reproduced in large numbers for wide distribution among friends, family and subjects in a way not possible with paintings or sculptures. Since that time, they have spread through Europe and the world, expanding their subject matter to cover nearly all human activities.

American medals have been used to celebrate individuals, record events, and as an indicator of power and prestige of individuals or the nation since their inception during the American Revolution. Before the Revolution, European medals already celebrated North America and the region that would become the United States. The US Mint acquired the technology to strike large medals by the first decade of the 19th century, replacing American reliance on foreign mints. By the mid-1800s, homegrown medals of all sizes were produced privately for individuals and organizations. They were produced as works of art, awards for competitions, and to celebrate activities of social clubs and events ranging from agricultural shows to coin conventions or political campaigns, social activism or political satire – roles that they continue to be used for today. Explore how medals can tell these stories, and gain an appreciation for their beauty and value as part of our legacy and as history in your hands.

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the making of a medal
The Making of a Medal
american colonies
American Colonies
america's first medals
America’s First Medals
US Mint Medals of the War of 1812
US Mint Medals of the War of 1812
George Washington - Military Hero
George Washington: Military Hero
George Washington - Cultural Icon
George Washington: Cultural Icon
Washington - Politician
Washington: Politician
Lincoln: His Image on Medals
Lincoln: His Image on Medals
Lincoln: Political Icon
Lincoln: Political Icon
The Medallic Art of Eugene Daub
The Medallic Art of Eugene Daub
Jeanne Stevens-Sollman
Indian Peace Medals
Indian Peace Medals
Early Indian Peace Medals
Early Indian Peace Medals
Later Indian Peace Medals
Later Indian Peace Medals
U.S. Mint Presidential Medals
U.S. Mint Presidential Medals
U.S. Mint Medals
U.S. Mint Medals
Private Medals at the U.S. Mint
Private Medals at the U.S. Mint
Medallic Art in America
Medallic Art in America
Society of Medalists
Society of Medalists
Military Battles and Leaders
Military Battles and Leaders
Slavery and Abolition
Slavery and Abolition
Air and Space
Air and Space
American Military Decorations and Medals
Club and Organization Medals
Medals of the Franklin Mint
Bryan Money: Political Propaganda in Metal
Cyrus W. Field and the Transatlantic Cable
The Thomason Medallic Bible
The Modern Art Medal in America
The Medal in America Videos
medal in america vr tour
VR Exhibit Tour
baker manley collection
Explore the Baker-Manley Collection