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Medalic Art

In numismatics, there is this category called medalic art.

From its platting in 1853 and incorporation four years later in 1857 (hence the sesqui-centennial seven years ago at the Rourke), Agincourt is bound to have commemorated some event through the casting of bronze. I wonder what it might have been.

There are any number of exceptional coins and medals in the history of the U.S. The Saint Gaudens $20 gold piece, for example, is believed by many coin collectors to have been the most beautiful coin ever struck by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving. With apologies to those of you who bought in to the “State Quarters” series, those are neither beautiful not do they have value beyond their face: 25 cents. The Saint Gaudens Twenty, on the other hand, is exquisite:

st gaudens 20

Scattered about our house there are several medals of the sort that eBay calls “exonumia” or not of governmental issue. In this case, Europeans tend to have done a better job aesthetically. From my snobbish perspective, American medals struck from the designs of Leonard Baskin rank near the top of the list. Consider this 1961 medal struck to celebrate an anniversary of the New York Public Library (the fiftieth anniversary of its main building):

baskinNYPLmedalbaskinNYPLmedal2

Our late friend James O’Rourke was a collector of Baskin and the series of six Greek-inspired plaques were among them. I presume those six are in the permanent collection at the RAM. For your viewing enjoyment, here they are pillaged from the web:

baskin bronzes

So, anyone with metal casting skills is invited to suggest a project for the upcoming exhibit. I shall be pleased to collaborate.


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