Back on April 2, I purchased on eBay for $72 a medal identified as
such: “Beautiful Harriman Memorial Medal in Gold. 70 mm. 238 grams.
Similar to the Lot #10102 Sold in St Louis, MO (CSNS) Heritage
Signature Auction #372. That medal was produced by Tiffany and Co.
and struck in 20 karat gold. This piece encased in Lucite. It
appears these medals were designed by James Earl Fraser. His
signature logo appears on the obverse. Awarded to Bessemer and Lake
Erie Railroad as a Class C Line based on number of employees in 1999
by American Museum of Safety. Unique as such.”
it be the gold medal presented to the railroad?
Alan Neuman / via email
Neuman added that he strongly believes it is gold based on his
experience with “patina, strike and feel.” If it is, in fact, the gold
medal presented to the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, it would be
worth several thousand dollars just for its gold content. Since it’s
encased in Lucite, determining whether the medal is made of gold or is
a base-metal piece that is gold-plated or even plated with something
else would take some effort. Neuman might have to remove the medal
safely from the Lucite and have the medal tested through
The E.H. Harriman Award was presented annually from 1913 to 2012 to
American railroad companies in recognition of outstanding safety achievements.
Medallic art specialist David T. Alexander, to whom Neuman also sent
images, offers the theory the Lucite-entombed medal might be an
electrotype — composed of two gold electrolytic shells, joined, with
the space between filled with lead.
“The textured edges are typical of electrotypes, with the texturing
disguising the seam that identifies electrolytic copies however
skillfully made,” Alexander writes.
The Harriman Award Museum verifies the award of a gold medal to the
B & LE railroad in 1999. As to what happened to that gold medal
since it was presented, none of my contacts has yielded results.
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