US Coins

American bison shines on this 1901 medal

The first quarter of the 20th century was an incredibly rich time for the art of the medal. While many medals were produced for a pure artistic reason, others had more practical purposes, such as those presented as award medals during the international expositions that were incredibly popular at the time.

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These award medals were designed by many names familiar to collectors today, because these artists also designed coins.

Here is the second of three particularly gorgeous examples offered at recent auctions that demonstrate the sheer beauty of these also functional medals.

The Lot:

1901 Pan-American Exposition Medal, Choice About Uncirculated

The Price:

$2,115

The Story:

Before Hermon Atkins MacNeil designed the Standing Liberty quarter dollar in 1916, he designed a handsome award medal for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, a world’s fair held in Buffalo, New York. MacNeil was already well-known for his exploration of Native American themes, and the obverse of this medal features a nude Liberty walking alongside an American bison. The reverse depicts two Native Americans, representing South America (left) and North America (right) sharing a peace pipe.


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This silver medal was awarded to American photographer Arthur Hewett, who was the official photographer of the exhibition, and he is named at the base of the obverse. The medals were made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Boston. This one, graded by Stack’s Bowers Galleries as Choice About Uncirculated and measuring 63.5 millimeters in diameter, sold for $2,115 at the firm’s March 2017 Baltimore auction.


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