The Society of Medalists First Issue



Before Laura Gardin Fraser married James Earle Fraser on Thanksgiving Day of 1913 she was an admiring student under his tutelage at the Art Students League in New York City. After three years as a student she joined him as an instructor at the school in 1910. It is here that she honed her skills as a sculptor, receiving several awards for her work.[1]

Perhaps on account of James teaching Laura learned that to be successful as a medallic artist she needed to simplify the design, employ appropriate symbols, use care in spacing all the elements, and execute the design with style. Accordingly, I believe Mrs. Fraser meets or exceeds each of the aforementioned objectives with her 1930 Hunters Medal. This medal also has the distinction of being the inaugural issue of the Society of Medalists.[2]

The Hunters Medal is struck in bronze and is 72mm in diameter. It has a mintage of 3,235 and a reported 125 re-strikes with the same pair of dies struck in silver and issued in the 1970's.[3]

The following is quoted by medalist and sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser concerning the Hunters Medal. There are many persons who desire to collect medals but are unable to do so because the medal is used in most instances as a specific award. The scope of the subject matter which bears no relation to a particular person or occasion embraces many forms of expression and the sculptor has a large field of choice. In this case, I felt that a sporting subject would be a departure from what one has been accustomed to seeing in medallic art. Therefore, I chose the hunter with his dog because it presented the opportunity of telling a story embodying a human and animal element. It has been studied as to correctness of detail so that it should have an appeal to those who are interested in out-of-door life. The ruffled grouse forms the reverse. It may be considered as a national game bird and is distinct in character and very decorative. It is hoped that there is sufficient merit in the rendering of this work to appease the collector whose interest is in the art of the medal.

The Circle of Friends of the Medallion (1909-1915) laid the groundwork for the formation of the Society of Medalists under the auspices of the American Federation of the Arts in 1930. The Society of medalists provided a forum for prominent sculptors to exhibit their medallic art. The resulting medals were then made available to the collecting public. From 1930-1995 the Society of Medalists issued a total of 129 medals at a rate of two per year. In addition to the regular issue medals there were also five special issue medals. All the SOM medals were struck by the Medallic Art Company.[4][5][6]


The Medallic Art Company then headquartered in New York City was founded in 1903 by two Frenchmen, Henri and Felix Weil. Today, based in Dayton, Nevada, the Medallic Art Company is Americas oldest and largest private mint. The medallic Art Company specializes in making academic awards, maces, and medallions. Among their most notable awards is the Pulitzer Prize, the Peabody Award, the Newbery medal, and the Caldecott medal. The Medallic Art Company has also struck the inaugural medals of eleven presidents.[7][8]

1 The Meadowlark Gallery; http://www.meadowlarkgallery.com/FraserLaura.htm

2 The Medal Maker; http://www.medallic.com/about/medal_maker.php

3 medallicartcollector.com

4 Wikipedia "Society of Medalists"; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_Medalists

5 Wikipedia "Circle of Friends of the Medallion"; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Circle_of_Friends_of_the_Medallion

6 PCGS "Enduring Society of Medalists First Issue Continues to Attract Collectors" by Fred Reed - September 9, 1999;

7 Wikipedia "Medallic Art Company"; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medallic_Art_Company

8 The Medallic Art Company; http://www.medallic.com/


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