Society of Medalists medals at auction
- Published: Apr 17, 2019, 12 PM
The Society of Medalists was formed in 1928 with the goal of increasing appreciation of medallic art in America by commissioning two bronze art medals each year from leading sculptors, producing some silver examples as well.
Later issues experimented with unusual sizes and formats. The series ended in 1995 with Geri Jimenez Gould’s rectangular medal The Last Supper.
As Steve Tanenbaum told David Alexander for the latter’s wonderful book American Art Medals, 1909–1995, “for decades, collectors knew SOM medals as generally round 76 millimeter pieces, distinguished by familiar size and reasonable issue price,” theorizing, “changes in size, shape and above all, cost, undoubtedly alienated many collectors.”
Inside Coin World: How museums can use numismatic items to enhance exhibits: Features and columns exclusive to the April 29 issue of “Coin World” discuss the gold $3 coin, bronze 2-cent coin and museum exhibits featuring coins and medals.
An accessible SOM medal is Stephan Robin’s Tutankhamun from 1977. It features the facing gold burial mask of the young pharaoh and a pectoral piece from “King Tut’s” tomb. The medal drew from the renewed interest in ancient Egypt from the “Treasures of Tutankhamun” exhibition that toured the United States in the 1970s.
The artist hoped “that those who own the medal feel they own part of the exhibition.” A total of 750 bronze and 150 silver medals reportedly were struck.
The illustrated Mint State silver example brought $480 at Stacks Bowers’ recent Baltimore sale.
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