US Coins

Bronze Pan-Pacific medal from 1915 is gorgeous

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

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

The Lot:

1915 Panama-Pacific Bronze Commemorative Medal, About Uncirculated

The Price:


The Story:

The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition is well-known to collectors today for its five commemorative coins struck at the San Francisco Mint, including the impressive $50 gold coins. Many medals were struck for the fair, including this bronze medal awarded to American sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, whose name is engraved — spelled incorrectly as A. Sterling Calder — on the reverse.

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Calder was named acting chief of the sculpture program for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1912 and his sculpture Star Maiden was a centerpiece of the public art at the exposition.

His father — Alexander Milne Calder — was also a sculptor, and his son, also named Alexander, is a seminal figure in American art for his kinetic mobiles. At 38.3 millimeters in diameter, the medal is just a bit larger than a silver dollar. It sold for $376 at a recent Stack’s Bowers auction.

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