US Coins

Roosevelt Memorial Association gold medal sells

Beyond the major numismatic auction houses like Heritage, Stack’s Bowers Galleries and Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers, more than a dozen smaller and more specialized firms had sales in June, including Steve Davis’ Numismatic Auctions LLC in Michigan, Rago Auctions in New Jersey and the firm featured here, Bonhams in Los Angeles.


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Tying these different sales together were three items carrying the designs of sculptor James Earle Fraser (1875 to 1953). Fraser, best known to coin collectors as the designer of the Indian Head 5-cent piece in 1913, was also the creator of many other beautiful objects. 

The medal:

Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor in gold, “As Issued”

The price:

$18,000

The story:

James Earle Fraser’s portrait of Theodore Roosevelt was used on a variety of medals and plaques in the 1920s and 1930s, including this gold Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor that was presented to American author Hannibal Hamlin Garland in 1931.

The medal had been in the Garland family since 1931 and is one of just 136 awarded. The reverse carries the inscription “If I Must Choose Between Righteousness and Peace, I Choose Righteousness,” with a central flaming sword. 

The heavy medal, produced by Medallic Art Company, measuring 3.25 inches in diameter and weighing nearly 375 grams, sold for $18,000 at Bonhams’ June 11 Coins and Medals auction in Los Angeles. The cataloger graded the medal — which is housed in a dual-sided antique gilt frame — as Uncirculated, observing, “Each side presents an ‘as issued’ appearance with no wear or distractions evident.” 

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