A bronze medal from a series of medals created by famed sculptor
Jacques Wiener sold May 23 in Sincona AG’s auction No. 18.
The medal, showing the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, is in About
Uncirculated condition. It realized 1,495 Swiss francs (about $1,672
in U.S. funds), including a 15 percent buyer’s fee, against an
estimate of 1,000 Swiss francs.
The medal was issued to celebrate the restoration of the center of
worship that served as a Greek Orthodox basilica and, later, an
Islamic mosque. The Hagia Sophia is now a museum.
Wiener (also known as Jacob) was part of a famous Jewish-Flemish
family of engravers and artists. Born in Hoerstgen, Germany, in 1815,
Wiener studied in Paris and then settled in Brussels.
The eldest of three brothers, Jacques generally signed his medals
as J. Wiener (or, occasionally, as Jacob). Leopold and Charles were
also renowned for their medal engraving.
In 1845, at age 30, Wiener decided to engrave medals representing
the exterior and interior of monuments, mostly churches, with a degree
of precision of detail previously unseen on medals, according to HistoricalArtMedals.com.
He began with a series of 10 medals (each measuring 50 millimeters
in diameter) showing famous churches of Belgium, all but one of these
with the assistance of Leopold.
Next Jacques Wiener undertook what was to be a series of 50 medals,
each 59 millimeteres in diameter, to represent the principal
cathedrals, churches and mosques of Europe (plus one synagogue).
Even with the assistance of his brother Charles, the series halted
after 41 medals because Wiener had almost completely lost his eyesight
by 1872 (at age 57). After 1874 (age 59) he produced no more medals.
Before his career ended, Jacques Wiener was prodigious, engraving
dies for a large number of other monuments, including prisons, town
halls and more, with at least 233 medals and 62 jetons cataloged. His
work is celebrated for showing among the best renditions of
perspective of building interiors.
The medal offered by Sincona is “very rare” and shows an interior of
the church on the obverse with an interior view of the crypt on the reverse.
For full results of the auction, visit Sincona’s website, email the firm, or
telephone it at (011) 41 44 215 252.