Many tokens and medals are included among the offerings of Heritage’s
Feb. 24 presentation of Part II of the David and Janice Frent
Collection of Political and Presidential Americana.
Heritage writes, “The Frent Collection is perhaps the last of the
old time ‘general collections’ covering the vast expanse of our
political history,” and it represents a lifetime of collecting for the
couple. David Frent told Heritage, “Going to shows of all types,
indoor and out, became a way of life for us,” adding, “The American
election is the only event since the inception of our country that can
be collected every four years in the form of memorabilia. Moreover,
politicals take many forms, from canes with heads of the candidates to
beer steins to the magnificent posters and flags, along with buttons,
ribbons and medals. One never knows what you’ll find on some weekend
journey into the country.”
The first of a planned eight offerings of the Frent Collection
realized nearly $1 million on Oct. 21, 2017. Like many collectors, the
Frents always tried to obtain items in the finest condition. David
told Heritage, “If we had the opportunity to upgrade, we always took
it. We weren’t thinking investment terms in those days. We just wanted
the most appealing examples we could find.”
What coin struck in the second half of the 20th
century has a doubled die obverse, dates of two sizes and an
RPM? John Wexler explains.
Also inside this issue, Joel Orosz checks out what was in the
first “superstar” collection’s auction catalog.
Especially considering the sheer volume of the collection, it might
surprise readers that the collectors actually kept and displayed the
collection in their home. As Janice told Heritage, “It’s hard to
imagine living without the collection, but over time the burden of
being its custodians has grown harder to bear; it’s a great responsibility.”
The Feb. 24 offering has a nice offering of inaugural medals, which
enjoy their own collecting base along with more general political and
presidential history collectors. Among the earliest inaugural medals
are those related to the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824. The
one offered at Heritage measures 51 millimeters in diameter and is
struck in white metal. Researchers believe this medal was probably
struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
Both sides were designed by Moritz Fürst. The obverse depicts Adams
in profile and reads: “John Quincy Adams President of the United
States March 4. 1825.” The reverse has an allegorical scene with
Minerva (representing science) passing a laurel branch to an Indian
(representing America) seated on a cornucopia. An eagle perched on a
broken tree is perched behind Minerva. SCIENCE GIVES PEACE surrounds
above, with AND AMERICA PLENTY below. The artist’s name appears on
both sides: in sunken lettering on the truncation of the bust on the
obverse, and below the horizontal exergual line on the reverse.
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This well-circulated example is graded Very Good by Heritage, which
observes rim bruises on both sides. Another example, graded About
Uncirculated, realized $4,750 in a 2016 Heritage auction.
Fürst was trained in Vienna and moved to the United States in 1807
when he was 26 years old.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art noted in its description of a silver
example of this medal in its collection, “Fürst’s prolific output made
him the most important engraver in American medallic art during the
early nineteenth century.”
As Chris Neuzil observed when presenting an article on the engraver
at the 1997 Coinage of the Americas Conference at the American
Numismatic Society, “Fürst himself remains a shadowy figure, with many
questions surrounding his professional and personal life.”
Hoover, Taft medals
Later examples of inaugural medals offered include a 69-millimeter
bronze medal issued for the inauguration of Herbert Hoover, which
Heritage grades Uncirculated. It was the work of Henry K. Bush-Brown,
who was well-known in his day for his realist depictions of historical
American subjects who also served as a member of the Inaugural
Committee. Just over 1,000 examples of the Hoover inaugural medal were
produced by the U.S. Mint with dies produced by the Medallic Art Company.
The obverse reads INAUGURATION • MARCH 4 1929 and has the designer’s
initials in the lower left field before Hoover’s bust. The reverse
reads “Herbert Hoover/ President/ Charles Curtis/ Vice/ President”
above an American eagle with spread wings.
Surrounding the eagle are highlights of Hoover’s career, with a star
shining on Europe, reflective of his support of European relief
efforts post-World War I at the left. The artist described it as an
American Star of Hope, sending its rays of relief to the people of
Europe, represented by a map that highlights France, Germany, and
Austria. Mining equipment and symbols reflecting his position as
Secretary of Commerce during the Warren G. Harding administration are
on the right.
Another example of the medal in comparable condition sold for $881
at a 2012 Cowan’s auction.
More simple in its design is an inaugural medal celebrating William
Howard Taft’s March 4, 1909, inauguration. The medals were struck by
the Joseph K. Davison’s Sons firm and the bronze 50-millimeter medal
is offered in its original white pasteboard box. A description of a
gold example in the Smithsonian American Art Museum states, “The
inclusion of Vice President James S. Sherman on the obverse, while
unusual for an inaugural medal, recalls late nineteenth-century
pieces, when portraits of both leaders were presented side by side.”
Indeed, William McKinley’s 1901 medal and Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905
medal featured busts only of the president, in contrast to the medals
of 1889, 1893 and 1897, which depicted both the newly elected
president and his vice president.
Taft and Sherman did not pose for the Davison’s Sons company artist,
who worked from photographs. Three thousand were originally issued and
examples in compromised condition can be found for under $100. A
particularly nice example, graded Mint State 63 brown by Numismatic
Guaranty Corp, sold for a bid of $250 at Ira and Larry Goldberg’s
September 2014 Pre-Long Beach auction.
The collectors said that they were hesitant to sell, but told
Heritage, “After giving much thought, we made an extremely difficult
decision. At this juncture, we want to give the opportunity to others
to enjoy the items we have cherished for so long and feel this is the
only way to be fair to all.”