US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Oct. 8, 2018

The acquisition by the American Numismatic Society of the Medallic Art Company archives is a great fit. The ANS is the perfect agency to preserve the history of the firm, which played a major role in medallic art in the 20th century (see our coverage here). 

The ANS has a long medallic history of its own, having issued its first medal just a few years after its founding. The society was founded in New York City in 1858 by a small group of numismatists. The year was pivotal for the hobby: the federal Mint in Philadelphia began selling Proof coins sets formally that year in response to demand from a growing number of coin collectors in the United States, and the first national coin club, the ANS, was established. 

Death to Traitors tokenInside Coin World: Civil War token with a macabre scene: Columns exclusive to the Oct. 22 issue of Coin World focus on Death to Traitors, notgeld, and superclashes.

Some seven years later, days after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, society officials determined to strike the ANS’s first medal as a tribute to the fallen leader. The medal proved a success, both in the United States and overseas. Examples survive in several metals, both from the original dies (which shattered after a small number of pieces were struck) and from later dies.

The ANS’s relationship with Medallic Art Company dates to 1908 and the creation of a rectangular plaquette commemorating the death of another president, Grover Cleveland. The Grover Cleveland Memorial Medal was designed by J. Edouard Roine, a noted artist of the era. According to the society’s centennial history from 1958, “The design itself cannot be considered one of the best to have been issued under the auspices of the Society, but it was the first time that the Medallic Art Company was asked to cut the dies.” At the time, the firm was just 5 years old. 

Paths taken by the American Numismatic Society and Medallic Art Company would intersect again over the years, as both gained prestige — the society as the most studious of the national numismatic organizations and the company as one of the premier creators of superb medallic art. The founders of both entities would probably be pleased that the ANS will preserve MACO’s long history.

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