• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

1958 ANS Centennial Medal, Fraser, Flanagan, Mellon, Roosevelt & Board Decay

7 posts in this topic

That's one heck of a title, isn't it? Not only is the title a grab-bag full of numismatic names, but it took some verbal artwork to get it to fit within the parameters that NGC allows in terms of the number of spaces.


Recently, Schatzy started a thread regarding the perceived decay of the NGC boards. This was a legitimate thread about a legitimate observation and it appears that other members may have had similar ideas. This thread made me think about the small number of threads I have started on these and the PCGS boards. Typically, I will respond to a thread, but I do not start many threads. At one time I had hoped to start one thread each month, but over the years one can see that my writing of threads has been far less than that frequency. There have been, however, at least two threads that I was quite interested in writing and these threads will wait somewhat longer until the time is right.


Partly due to Schatzy's thread and partly due to the fortuitous timing of a new purchase, I will start a thread today that I hope will be entertaining and educational. The new purchase was from jonathanb on the PCGS boards and is a bronze 1958 ANS Centennial Medal; the medal is imaged below by jonathanb-


The medal is quite heavy, approximately 14 ounces, and has a fairly decent sized diameter of 88.6mm (3.5 inches). The medal was designed by Laura Gardin Fraser and commemorates, obviously, the one hundredth anniversary of the ANS in 1958. Fraser was an extraordinarily talented medalist, designed several US coinage issues, produced a well known Washington plaquette, was chosen to create the very first Society of Medalists bronze and was the creative force behind the 1958 ANS Centennial Medal.


An internet search of this medal turns up surprisingly little information other than the description of the action and an interpretation of meaning. The obverse shows a male nude holding a fossil and its negative in stone. This can be interpreted to be nature's equivalent to the dies produced by man for coinage. The reverse shows two semi-nude men working over an anvil and flame, which may be an illustration of these men producing medallic art, while an enormous Pegasus flies overhead. This medal was struck by the Medallic Art Company.


Quite a bit more about Laura Gardin Fraser can be found in an earlier thread of mine that also discusses the lack of evidence to suggest that she was a victim of misogyny by then-Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. Truly, there is no contemporary or newly published historical evidence to suggest that Mellon suppressed the Fraser design for the Washington quarter out of a sexist motive. The only source for this charge is within Walter Breen's encyclopedia and I must admit that anything unreferenced and written by Breen that deals with sex or male-female roles must be held to the highest inspection and even suspicion.


The result of the Washington quarter contest would forever link Fraser with the eventual winner of the contest, John Flanagan. While many think Flanagan's work on the quarter is uninspired, it must be realized that Congress mandated that the Houdin life-bust of Washington be used as the source material for the portrait. Thought of in this light, Flanagan's work takes on new vigor and Houdin's influence on American numismatics is much more broad since he also made the life-busts of Jefferson and Franklin used on American coinage. Flanagan could also produce much more complex works such as his plaquette to honor his old mentor, Augustus Saint Gaudens.


Saint Gaudens was not only a heavy influence on Flanagan, but was also a great influence on Laura Gardin Fraser's husband, James Earle Fraser. Most of us realize that James Earle Fraser designed the Buffalo nickel and teamed with his wife to produce the Oregon Trail commemorative half dollar. It was also largely through the association of Saint Gaudens and Theodore Roosevelt that the US had its golden age of coinage production and many of their letters were later published in an edition of Century magazine. However, James Earle Fraser was also involved in a Roosevelt tribute and, as an extraordinarily talented medalist and plaque maker, he produced the Aggressive Fighting For The Right Is The Noblest Sport The World Affords plaque of Theodore Roosevelt produced by DecArts.


The DecArts Fraser plaque of Roosevelt is not the only affordable plaque of TR and another wildly interesting and historically important plaque of TR was produced by the combined talents of US Mint engravers Barber and Morgan. These two men are often viewed as adversaries, but their work was paired up on multiple occassions by the US Mint. The oddly shaped Great White Fleet plaque is a wonder to behold in-hand, though the vitality of Roosevelt does not show through with the power that the Fraser DecArts pieces possess.


In a roundabout or more direct manner, one can find associations with many important US figures and artists through numismatics. My threads over the years have given a superficial touch on these subjects and new numismatic literature by established authors goes into far greater depth. I hope this tour was enjoyable and perhaps even educational.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Tom, great post and terrific medal as well. You all are correct about these boards being quiet recently. I sold about 3/4's of my coins in September and have been pretty quiet since that less than wonderful event. My interest is picking up again and maybe more of us will post in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites