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About this journal

When I was a young boy, my cousin introduced me to the hobby of coin collecting. Because I was also interested in photography, I used to frequent a local camera store. Along with camera supplies, this store had a rotating display case full of coins that I enjoyed scrolling through. My very first coin purchase was an 1881-S Morgan Dollar in BU PL condition; this coin was old, shiny, and inexpensive at just $12! Now 35 years later, I still own that 1881-S Morgan Dollar, even though it is still worth less than $100. I loved looking through the Red Book dreaming of the coins I would buy if I had the money, especially the coins in the back of the book where the gold listings are. As a teenager, I was beginning to show signs of gold fever.

Working through high school, I spent the bulk of the money I did not save on coin purchases. My first gold purchase as a teenager was an 1881 BU Half Eagle for $105 from a mail order ad in "Coins" magazine. Since then I have had this coin graded, and it resides in my Gold Liberty type collection graded at PCGS MS-62.

My next gold purchase as a youth stretched my resources. I purchased an 1858-C VF Half Eagle for $350, and my attraction to this coin was that it had a low mintage from an obscure branch mint. I also enjoy the comradely among fellow coin enthusiasts, and once I invited a kid to attend a coin show with me who was much younger than I was. As fate would have it, this kid happened to be the son of my mother’s boss. This boss always said to my mother how impressed he was with me taking his son to that show. As for me, I enjoy the company of fellow coin collectors, whoever they may be.

Two other purchases I made as a teen were an 1876 20-cent piece and an 1885-CC Morgan Dollar from the Lavere Redfield hoard. Since then my collecting has been sporadic, depending on my life situation. However, the passion has always been there. Gold has still not lost its luster with me, and today I am a very active collector. The cousin that introduced me to coin collecting years ago no longer collects. For a different twist on my collection, visit my website at: coinsbygary.com

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Entries in this journal

 

A Most Excellent Provenance and a Good Friend

Because of my Laura Gardin Fraser collection an article in the June 2018 issue of The Numismatist entitled, “Fraser Finds”, aroused my interest. The author of that article went on to describe his pure joy at the Fraser finds comparable to that of discovering lost treasure. For my part I found this article fascinating. Never could I have imagined that Tom Rochovansky and his wife Nancy were preserving so much of the Fraser’s work as a legacy to them. Normally for me this is where the story ends. Later I was to find out that this was in reality where the story began. A friend of mine who has been invaluable to me in both researching and acquiring many of the Laura Gardin Fraser medals in my collection contacted me about the article. He went on to say that he lives within driving distance of the Rochovanskys and made an appointment with them to inspect the finds for himself. When my friend returned from inspecting the Fraser’s studio pieces he sent me a report of his findings. I was somewhat disappointed that there didn’t seem to be anything of interest to me in the report. Later my friend on a subsequent visit discovered two Items that he missed on the first visit that I was VERY interested in purchasing. Those pieces were a bronze 1912, 131mm cast medallion honoring John Cardinal Farley on his elevation to the cardinalate of New York. The second is a bronze 1915, 64mm Rosemary Hall 25th anniversary medal. I’ll have more to say about these medals later but for now, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.” This is where having a friend that knows something about medals is indispensable. After finding out about these two medals I told my friend that I was interested in purchasing both of them. The price for the Rosemary Hall was about what I could expect to pay and well within my budget. The asking price of the Cardinal Farley medallion on the other hand was a stretch for me and just outside what I wanted to pay. With that my friend was willing to negotiate a fair price on my behalf to the Rochovanskys based on his knowledge of the market and it was a sale! Two medals once owned by Laura Gardin Fraser are now in my personal collection! Indeed, both of these medals truly represent a “Most Excellent Provenance”! I mailed a check directly to Tom Rochovansky with a hand written note thanking him and inviting him to peruse my set. After receiving my check, Tom gave me a call and I had a wonderful conversation with the curator of the Frasers studio artifacts. Tom went on to say that he personally knew Laura Fraser as a child and often referred to her as Aunt Laura. I asked him if I could conduct an interview with him about his experiences with the Frasers and he was very willing for me to call him at a future date. Now who could ask more than the prospect of acquiring first-hand information about the Frasers? In a bit of numismatic history Tom Rochovansky went on to say that he loaned the plasters for the 1999 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington half-eagle to the mint. In return the mint sent him one of the half-eagles that he incidentally still owns. The mint also returned the plasters which are also still in his possession. Finally, Tom told me about some of the non-numismatic items he still has, one of which I may be interested in purchasing at a future date when I will likely make-up a display case of this collection. Finally, I was not the only person to benefit from the “Fraser Finds” article in the Numismatist. Another of my friends introduced to me through the same person who contacted the Rochovanskys acquired several plasters, one of which is the obverse of the Oregon Trail commemorative half-dollar. He has also written of his purchases in the July 22 edition of “The E-Sylum” complete with pictures. Lest you think our common friend didn’t find something for his collection, think again. There are now three very happy collectors with their purchases and Tom Rochovansky glad to place a few of the Fraser artifacts into good homes.    

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

08/21/2018

Last Reply:
08/22/2018

 

The BIDE-A-WEE Medal

Bide-A-Wee is Scottish for "Stay A While" and is the name of an animal rescue and adoption center in Manhattan founded by Mrs. Flora D'Auby Jenkins Kibbe in 1903. Bide-A-Wee still exists today and has a policy of not euthanizing the animals in their care except for pain and suffering. As a result in 115 years of operation they have been able to place over a million dogs and cats into loving homes.  A collector favorite, the Bide-A-Wee medal was awarded to persons in grateful recognition of their "service in the cause of friendless animals." The pictured medal is a bronze un-awarded uniface example designed by then sculptor Laura Gardin around 1913 just before her marriage to James Earle Fraser. It is interesting to note that although the Medallic Art Company catalogs the die pair as MAco 1918-002 that the design pre-dates 1918 because it is signed Laura Gardin rather than Laura Gardin Fraser. The obverse of the medal features three of Laura Gardin's favorite dogs seated together. Surrounding the dogs is the inscription, "LOYALTY, DEVOTION, FORGIVENESS, HUMOR." The edge inscription reads "L.G. Fraser (copyright symbol) 1919.  The picture attached to this post is of Arctic explorer Rear-Admiral Richard E. Byrd being presented the Bide-A-Wee medal in 1930 for devotion to his terrier ironically named, "Igloo". Interestingly, Laura Gardin Fraser is also credited with designing the National Geographic Special Medal of Honor for Rear-Admiral Richard E. Byrd in 1930. One side of this medallion sized medal prominently features the bust of Admiral Byrd. The only fly in the ointment is that this medal is details graded by NGC for cleaning. When I submitted the medal for grading, I hadn't noticed the cleaning. Now that the medal has been graded I can see the cleaning and I agree with NGC's conclusion. For me, the fingerprint on this medal is more distracting than the cleaning which is probably why I didn't catch the cleaning. Still, even with the cleaning and fingerprint I visually find this medal very appealing. Thus, I am thrilled to own this medal because it is scarce and rarely comes up for sale or auction. 

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

06/30/2018

Last Reply:
07/03/2018

 

Allegories in Numismatic Art

One of the things that endears me to coin collecting is allegorical art. I have several sets in my collection based on allegories alone. I have always maintained that coins are a powerful medium to communicate national ideals through allegorical images. For me a lot of the fun in collecting coins is deciphering the allegories. In researching the allegories, I am amazed by how much I have learned about world history through the stories told on coins! For instance I had not known that the name "Borealia" had been considered for Canada's name at it's confederation in 1867 before I acquired the latest coin for my allegorical "Inspirational Ladies" set. The following is a description of my coin purchased from Tallisman Coins and comes from their website: Building on the classical concept of a female national personification, Canadian artist Rebecca Yanovskaya offers a new allegory for a modern Canada. Framed by waves and maple leaves that unite land and sea, Borealia is the very picture of strength and confidence as she stands against the majestic backdrop of Canada's tallest peak, Mount Logan, which represents the soaring spirit of innovation. Like the British figurehead Britannia, Borealia is clad in traditional robes, but with unique armor that hints at Canada's journey since the colonial era. Every engraved element in this intricate design carries deeper symbolic meaning, including those that allude to the weight of history: the fur cape that represents Canada's pre-Confederation past; the feather that pays tribute to Indigenous Peoples; and the poppies of remembrance woven into her hair. In one hand, Borealia holds the shield of the Arms of Canada; in the other, a dove of peace, a nod to Canada's historic role as peacekeepers, but also to Canadians' desire for peace. Facing forward towards the future, Borealia is strong, optimistic and steadfast, like the people she represents, whose ideals and spirit continue to shape and redefine the nation's global future. With one foot reverentially set in the past, her name is an ode to one of the proposed names of Canada leading up to Confederation: Borealia. Traditional engraving creates a classical portrait of the modern Miss Canada, a highly symbolic and meaningful allegory or personification of the goddess Miss Canada, struck in one full troy ounce of 99.99% pure silver, and layered in precious 24-karat gold!  She is youthful yet wise, peaceful yet  powerful. She is Borealia, (from "borealis," the Latin word for "northern") the goddess Miss Canada, who radiates strength and confidence on this fully gold-plated, 99.99% pure silver proof. This symbolic personification is a superb rendering of a classic allegorical figure who represents the collective spirit of Canadians in today's world: hopeful and steady in resolve and perseverance, rising to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

06/02/2018

Last Reply:
06/02/2018

 

Older and Wiser

I always thought it to be a shame if a person only grows older without growing any wiser. People often classify such a person as a fool. Concerning my relationship to coin collecting, wiser after so many years has finally come!   After going trailblazers buying Morgan Dollars several years ago, I had lost interest in the series and finally sold off much of my collection in 2017. Now my interest in Morgan Dollars only includes the following: MS-65 and higher Morgan’s, GSAs, and Carson City Morgan’s. The rest, more than 40 coins in all, were sold, most at a loss to acquire the coins that today represent my real passion.   At that time several years ago, I was adding Morgan’s to my collection at a rate of two or three coins a month. E-Bay was an addicting and all too easy venue for me to buy coins. It became as if, “I see, I like, I buy.” Never mind if I saw a coin, bought it, and only a few days later saw one I liked better and bought that one. I often rationalized that purchasing the new coin was subsidized by the old coin. To tell the truth, I was compulsively and indiscriminately buying coins. This no-win situation only robbed me of my numismatic passion and subsequently turned me into a numismatic fool.   My Laura Gardin Fraser collection has taught me the patience needed to not only enjoy coin collecting but to do it at a pace that is both reasonable and results in buying quality coins that will never need to be upgraded. You see, when the coins and medals you need in your collection rarely make an appearance on the open market, you have to learn patience. Patience  then is a good indicator of passion. If I have no patience, I have no passion resulting in burnout. So far, I haven’t lost patience with my LGF set and now don’t expect that I will. In fact, I just picked up two scarce pieces at bargain basement prices, one with a mintage of only 30! I will post more about those later.   That said, I will not be branching out into other numismatic ventures other than the following: •       Allegorical and inspirational women featured on worldwide coinage. Since my wife’s mother died of breast cancer, I will be buying the “pink” gold half-eagle going on sale by the US Mint in March. •       Seated imagery featured on worldwide coinage. •       A US gold typeset featuring all the major varieties from 1834-1933, less the 1907 high relief St. Gaudens double-eagle. (Only the prohibitive price tag keeps me from acquiring that one.) •       High-grade Morgan dollars, Carson City dollars, and GSA’s. •       Final upgrades to my 7070 US type set purchased on my behalf by a dealer friend of mine. •       …And of course my Laura Gardin Fraser coin and medal set!   My dealer friend buys attractive coins for my 7070 type set from my want list in the grades that I can afford. My want list is a five year plan to acquire the coins that I will never have to upgrade and so finally complete a set that I will be proud to own going into retirement. This dealer friend also attends all the coin shows that I cannot. Thus, I am learning to patiently acquire coins via one of the oldest of collector venues, “The Coin Show.”   Coins shows also give my dealer friend a chance to sell or trade my old coins at the best price possible. Therein is yet another opportunity for me to learn patience especially for my VG-10 1893-S Morgan. My friend held that coin for close to a year before finding a suitable buyer at the January FUN show.   In 2017 I spent most of the proceeds of my Morgan sale to purchase coins to fill my gold type collection. Now only the no-motto half-eagle and no-motto Indian Head Eagle remain. Additionally, I am waiting until the spot price of gold goes much higher to sell the gold coins I purchased long ago and recently upgraded. This again is another opportunity for me to learn patience since many of those coins I purchased when gold was close to $2000/oz.   In 2018, I expect my new purchases to be far fewer as I move more towards quality over quantity. So far this year with the proceeds from the 93-S Morgan I bought a beautiful E-bay purchased MS-64 1908 no-motto St Gaudens Double-Eagle and a FUN show pick-up, MS-66 1913 ty 1 Buffalo Nickel for my 7070 type set. I purchased both these coins with a couple hundred dollars to spare.   Needless to say these two coins are not subject to upgrades as they are absolutely gorgeous for their grades. Through the patience of selectively purchasing only those coins that fit my narrowly defined passion, have I finally become wise. 

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

01/15/2018

Last Reply:
02/03/2018

 

A Golden Opportunity

Over the last several years I have been feverishly working to upgrade the gold coins in my collection since the spot price of gold has fallen from its peak valuation in the fall of 2011.   In the last two years or so I have been able to upgrade several of the MS-62 and lower graded gold coins in my collection to 63 and 64. To date, I have been happy with the quality of the MS-63 and 64 gold coins I bought and I consider them to be the final upgrades for my gold type set. With the spot price of gold being relatively stable over the last few years, I have had the time I needed to buy these expensive coins at a price I can afford.   This golden opportunity has also allowed me to add several nice circulated classic gold coins and varieties to my collection. Except for the 1907 high-relief St Gaudens Double Eagle, I fully expect to add all the major 1834 to 1933 US gold varieties to my collection.   This brings me to the 1897-S MS-62 Type 3 Liberty Double Eagle in my collection. Over the last several months I have been looking for an acceptable MS-63 or 64 example. The problem is that I have not found a coin in those grades that is all that much better than the 62 I already own. The problem has always been the location and severity of the contact marks on the obverse. Dare I consider a gem-uncirculated MS-65 upgrade?   According to both PCGS and NGC population reports, PCGS grades a total of 8,204 Liberty Double Eagles in MS-65 and NGC grades 9,221. For the most part, gem condition Liberty Double Eagles are very scarce and as a result very expensive. Now if all those 65’s were spread evenly across all the dates I would not be having the following conversation.   Of the total MS-65 populations from both grading services, 65% of PCGS’s and 64% of NGC’s population are 1904 double eagles. With thousands of 1904 MS-65’s in the marketplace, the 1904 double eagle presents a wonderful opportunity for the type collector to own a gem quality gold coin at a relatively low price. This then is where a lower and stable spot price comes into play when making my decision to upgrade my current double eagle.   In 2011, I bought my current double eagle when an ounce of gold was at its peak valuation. At that time I suspected that gold would continue to rise. Now they say that hindsight is 20/20 and since I bought this coin, gold has fallen to roughly the level it has held for more than a couple of years. Now when I decide to upgrade any coin in my collection I usually sell the lower graded coin to subsidize the higher graded coin. However, in this case I am going to hold onto that 1897-S coin until the price of gold goes back up.   With that settled, I went on the hunt for an MS-65 double eagle to replace my 62. After looking around a little, I found about twenty-five 1904 MS-65’s on Heritage’s website as “Buy It Nows” with a few having a “Make Offer” option. Like all the rest of the grades not all MS-65’s are created equal so I picked the coin I liked the best and made an offer for $100 lower than the BIN.   Now Heritage was supposed to contact me in three days and when they didn’t I thought they had declined my offer. That was until 11 days after my offer when I received an invoice in my e-mail box for the coin I wanted! With that I upgraded an MS-62 coin to 65 for only $32 more than I paid for the 1897-S! Essentially, I just got a 3-point upgrade for free! If I were to sell the MS-62 at a loss it would then cost me about $600-$700. Still not that bad for an upgrade to a coin of this magnitude.   This all reminds me of the UNC-Details 1889-S Saddle Ridge Double Eagle I bought for about the same price as the two coins I am writing about. When I compare the Saddle Ridge coin to the 1904, I think the Saddle Ridge coin has a shot at MS-65 were it not for the cleaning below Miss Liberty’s truncated neck. The cleaning may not be all that apparent in the PCGS photo but in the hand it is front and center.   Unlike the 1904, 1889-S double eagles are very rare in MS-65 with a NGC valuation of $36,000 and a PCGS valuation of $30,000! I only paid a small fraction of that price for this coin, about 1/14 to 1/15 of the fully graded coin! Thus, I am thrilled to own this coin even though it has been cleaned. The moral of the story is don’t even think of cleaning your coins, you may do them irreparable damage perhaps costing you thousands and at the same time representing a great deal for me (lol)! Merry Christmas to all!

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

12/10/2017

Last Reply:
12/10/2017

 

The National Geograhic Society Hubbard Medallion

The National Geographic Hubbard Medallion is named after the first president of the National Geographic Society, Gardiner Greene Hubbard. It is the National Geographic Society’s highest award and is conferred on persons who distinguish themselves by a lifetime of achievement in research, discovery, and exploration. This prestigious award was first presented to Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary in 1906. [1] [2] The Hubbard Medallion redesigned by Laura Gardin Fraser in 1951 is struck in 14 karat gold, weighs 474 grams and is 93 mm in diameter. [3] The medallion in my collection is struck in gilded bronze that gives it a similar look to that of the 14 karat gold medallion. The edge inscription on my medallion is “MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. BRONZE.” Thus, it seems probable that my medallion was a trial strike, perhaps struck with the same dies used to strike the gold medallion. According to Medallic Art Company historian and senior consultant D. Wayne Johnson on his databank, the redesigned Hubbard Medallion has a MACO die number of 1951-016. [4] This ingenious method of cataloging dies devised by D. Wayne Johnson himself signifies that the dies for the new Hubbard Medallion were the 16th job in 1951. (Incidentally, Medallic Art Company retains all the dies they ever used in an environmentally controlled die library). [5] That said the first recipient of the redesigned Hubbard Medallion and the 15th overall was Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillan on January 9, 1953. Ironically, Commander MacMillan was an aide to the first Hubbard Medallion awardee, Robert E. Peary. The obverse of the Hubbard Medallion features the Western Hemisphere seal of the National Geographic Society and the year of the National Geographic Society’s founding in 1888 with an oak leaf cluster on each side of the date. On the reverse appear land, sea, and sky, races of man, animals, birds, and sea creatures. [6] Of particular interest to me is a non-cited quote by Laura Gardin Fraser concerning her design of the Hubbard Medallion: “My idea in using animals was to have them represent, along with the races of man, the continents of the globe. I chose such creatures as would readily be recognized as having inhabited their respective regions from man’s earliest remembrance.” “The hemispheres are those shown on the cover of the magazine the Northern, Southern and Eastern Hemispheres since the obverse shows our own Western Hemisphere as the seal of the National Geographic Society. A decorative element is two groupings of oak leaves on the obverse. They were also taken from the cover of the magazine.” Finally, when I examine a piece of medallic art I sometimes wonder what the sculptor of that medal or coin intended to communicate through it. I also believe that the said sculptor derives a certain degree of satisfaction when he or she sees the desired effect of their medallic art on its recipients. In some cases, the legacy and effect of a sculptor’s work continues after their death. Such is the case with Laura Gardin Fraser (1889-1966) and the Hubbard Medallion. The following is the story of a very proud woman whose great-great-great uncle received the Hubbard Medallion posthumously. Matthew A. Henson was an Arctic explorer and right hand man of Robert E. Peary. Unfortunately for him, very few African Americans were recognized for their contributions in discovery and exploration in the early 1900s. In fact, evidence seems to suggest that Matthew Henson was the first human to stand on the geographic North Pole, not Peary. Then on November 28, 2000 some ninety-four years after Robert E. Peary was awarded the Hubbard Medallion, Matthew A. Henson finally received his long overdue recognition when he was posthumously awarded the Hubbard Medallion. [7] Leila Savoy Andrade had been a security guard at the headquarters of The National Geographic Society for three years. Few people where she worked knew that she was the great-great-great niece of Arctic explorer Matthew A. Henson. When she showed up at the award ceremony in civilian cloths the president of the Society, John Fahey asked her, “What are you doing here?” She replied, “That’s my uncle.” Leila was one of nine family members to attend the ceremony and she was quoted as saying this about her uncle, “Everyone in the family always said great things about him when I was growing up.” Somehow I believe that if Laura Gardin Fraser were alive today, she would be thrilled about this story and the role she played in it. [8] 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbard_Medal
2 https://www.nationalgeographic.org/awards/hubbard/
3 http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19144/lot/182/
4 http://medalartists.com/fraser-laura-gardin.html
5 http://www.medallic.com/die-library.php
6 The National Geographic Magazine, April 1953 pg. 564
7 http://joytripproject.com/2014/the-legacy-of-arctic-explorer-matthew-henson/ 8 The National Geographic Society Magazine, June 2000, “The Ties That Bind” A medal ceremony becomes a family affair  

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

09/04/2017

 

The Numismatic Beauty of a Strong Allegory

There are few things in numismatics that I enjoy more than strong allegories on coins and medals. Where the allegory is unknown, I endeavor to decipher it within the historical context of the numismatic piece. Because of this love I created two NGC custom sets, “Inspirational Ladies” and “The Use of Seated Imagery in Numismatics.” Researching the coins and medals contained in these two sets has given me many hours of enjoyment! One coin that I recently acquired illustrating a strong allegory is the 2017 Canadian .9999 Fine Silver $100 Coin, “Juventas et Patrius Vigor” (Latin for “Youth and Patriotic Strength”), 1867 Confederation Medal. This coin is 76.25 mm in diameter and weighs 10 oz. The mintage is 1000 and my coin’s serial number is 321/1000. This year Canada is celebrating their 150th anniversary of confederation. Marking the occasion, Canada is releasing a number of commemorative coins. The obverse of this massive coin features an 1867 profile bust of Queen Victoria and a current profile of Queen Elizabeth II along with their corresponding crowned monograms. The obverse represents Queen Victoria as the British queen in power at the time of confederation in 1867 and the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II. Faithfully reproduced, the reverse of this coin is modeled from the dies of the original 76.5 mm, 1867 Canadian Confederation Medal. Issued with Queen Victoria’s approval, this medal was minted in silver and bronze. It was awarded to persons of merit for their service to Canada. The original mintages are one gold medal presented to Queen Victoria, fifty silver medals, and five hundred bronze medals. The designers of this medal were brothers JS and AB Wyon. These medals seldom appear on the open market and are quite expensive. I found an auction record for a beautiful original silver medal selling at $2750.00 CAD + $550 buyers premium on 7/13/11 ( http://www.icollector.com/1867-Canadian-Confederation-Silver-Medal_i10734270 ). I also found the record of a bronze medal that sold for $800 USD ( https://www.emedals.com/a-rare-confederation-commemorative-table-medal-1867-c0881 ). The reverse features Britannia representing the UK, seated and holding a scroll on which is written “Confederation.” The lion resting its head on Britannia’s lap is reminiscent of “Una and the Lion” from Spenser's “The Faerie Queene.” Around Britannia and idealizing the motto “Youth and Patriotic Strength” are four young maidens representing the four original provinces of Canada; Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick . Ontario is holding a sickle and sheaf representing agriculture. Holding a canoe paddle is Quebec representing commerce. In Nova Scotia’s hand is a shovel representing mining. Finally, New Brunswick is holding an ax to represent forestry. I gleaned much of the information for this post from the following website,  http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/honours-history-awards/conf-medal.page . Here you will also find a lot of interesting facts about the original medal that I had not mentioned in this post. Until next time, happy collecting! Gary.

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

05/30/2017

Last Reply:
06/28/2017

 

There’s Nothing Like a Coin Album for Presenting Your Collection

With the advent of the NGC and PCGS registries came new and improved ways to catalog, preserve, and display the coins in your collection. This after years of collectors plugging raw coins into albums. Yet, I feel that there was something nostalgic about plugging coins in an album that may have been lost. PCGS has tried to recapture that nostalgia in their registry with their coin album software. I must say that for a while I was impressed and jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer NGC’s registry and I do not currently maintain a registry with PCGS. However, there was something in me that longed to present my collection in that format, especially my NGC 7070 Basic US Type Set. After all, isn’t this set based on a Dansco coin album anyway! Still, there has got to be a way to get the best of both worlds and I think that I have found it! A week or two ago I got an email from a coin supply vendor announcing that Dansco would for a limited time make their 7070 album available for purchase. Jumping on the opportunity, I ordered the album with no intention of ever putting a coin in it! When the album arrived, I photographed the front and backside of all the pages. Next, I loaded them up to Photoshop Elements and started to plug photographs of my coins into the slots. I was in essence creating my very own virtual coin album with the advantage of enlarging the page to more closely inspect the coins. Eventually, I’ll put all the pages together in a power point file or something like that. Yes, the page files are a bit large to post. But for me, I am looking for many hours of enjoyment both plugging coins and enjoying them all together in one frame well into the future! So far I have page 1 of 5 finished (I’ll order the gold page 6 separately) and I’m posting a scaled down picture of that page with this post. Happy Collecting!
Gary

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

05/17/2017

Last Reply:
06/22/2017

 

One of the More Intricate & Beautiful Coins I Have Ever Seen

When I read Jackson64’s journal, “Added coins 4 and 5 to my Jersey 1/12 shilling set” I got stoked because there was much about what he was saying about his style of collecting that matches my own. For instance, I like to manage 4 or 5 sets at a time like he does. Currently, I am working on a US type set, along with my custom sets Inspirational Ladies, The Use of Seated Imagery in Numismatics, and The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser. Still, there is a bit of a twist to my collecting habits that is slightly different meaning that I am actively pursuing coins for my US type set and LGF custom set while at the same time passively seeking coins for the other two. By passively, I mean that if I run across something that I like and it fits into the Inspirational Ladies and Seated Imagery sets, I will often buy those coins. Recently I bought a new coin for my Inspirational Ladies custom set. I get a lot of coin related e-mails listing various coins for sale and I tend to peruse most of them. Much of the time I see nothing of interest and immediately delete them. However, a recent e-mail from Talisman Coins listed a really cool 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation 2017 silver dollar featuring Miss Canada. For a while there, I was hemming and hawing about purchasing it as a single coin. A little later I got another e-mail from Talisman listing a Canadian proof set with the Miss Canada Silver Dollar included but with a twist. This coin was different in that it had gold plating in selected places on the coin. When I saw a picture of this coin my jaw about dropped. Rarely have I seen medallic art with the level of intricacy and beauty as is this coin! The only possible show stopper was that it was not offered as a single but only in a set with proof versions of the other Canadian circulating coins. So I bought seven coins to get one. I considered cracking out the dollar to submit it separately. That said, this set is not at all cheesy because every single one of the circulating coins were struck up in pure silver, from the nickel to the “toonie.” The standard dollar, Miss Canada dollar, and two dollar all have some level of gold plating. Pulling the dollar and submitting it would have been easy had the coins been mounted in individual capsules. When the set arrived it came packaged with book-like leather covers and the coins encased in a single plastic mount. Simply put, this set is way too nice to crack out any of the coins for a submission. This presents a dilemma of how to enter the Miss Canada coin into the Inspirational Ladies set. Perhaps, I will have to buy eight coins to get one. Buy the single all silver uncirculated Miss Canada dollar, submit it, and post the pictures of the gold plated version. This all seems like a pretty big expense just to get one coin into my set. Sometimes this hobby of ours is just not logical! We’ll see, I’m in no hurry. On another front, I just purchased a very nicely toned PCGS MS-63 1853 with arrows Seated Liberty Dime for my type set replacing an XF-40 dime. This presents another problem of how to represent this new purchase in my NGC set. Simple, I just keep the old coin and use the MS-63 pictures. …Or, since this coin was toned I could search Heritage to see if my coin was ever auctioned. What I found was that Heritage auctioned it in 2004 in an NGC holder meaning that someone along the way cracked it out and sent it to PCGS. Thus if the holder number is still valid, I might try entering the old NGC number. Naw, this is all ridiculous I’m not going to that degree. Interestingly, NGC had the coin graded at MS-63 also. Happy collecting all!!!!
Gary

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

04/26/2017

Last Reply:
04/29/2017

 

A Beautiful Medal for a Worthy Recipient

The Buffalo Nickel since its release in 1913 is still a collector favorite. Today the legacy of the Buffalo Nickel and its sculptor live on in the 2001 American Buffalo Silver Dollar and $50, .9999 fine, Gold Buffalo. As such, when collectors hear the name of James Earle Fraser they almost invariably think of the Buffalo Nickel. Likewise, but to a smaller degree are some of the medallic works of Laura Gardin Fraser and in particular her rendition of “Fame” featured on the obverse of the National Institute of Social Sciences gold medal. The National Institute of Social Sciences gold medal, first awarded in 1913 continues to be awarded today on an annual basis. The obverse image of Laura Gardin Fraser’s portrayal of Fame appears prominently at the head of every page on the National Institute of Social Sciences website. As such the image of this beautiful medal is permanently associated with the National Institute of Social Sciences and it is a legacy to the artistic abilities of Laura Gardin Fraser. [1] The National Institute of Social Sciences was founded in 1912 under the charter of the American Social Science Association incorporated by Act of Congress, January 28, 1899. From Article II of their constitution the object of The National Institute of Social Sciences is to, “promote the study of Social Science and to reward distinguished services rendered to humanity, either by election to the National Institute, or by the bestowal of medals or other insignia.” Consequently, the annual awarding of their gold medal is one of their primary functions as an organization. This medal is of such importance that its design is set forth in Article XI of their constitution as follows: “Presentation medals shall bear the Figure of Fame resting on a Shield, holding wreaths of laurel. The shield to bear the name of the Institute. In the left hand, the figure to hold a palm branch. The reverse to show a torch with a name plate and Dignus Honore, the motto of the Institute.” The Latin phrase Dignus Honore is translated, “Worthy of Honor.” [2] It is said that within the context of armed conflict you will find both the best and worst of humanity on display. To recognize the humanitarian contributions of those persons involved with the war effort during Word War 1, the National Liberty Committee of American Social Science Association adopted the following resolution dated January 18, 1918: “In view of the fact that, except in the army and navy, no provision has been made by any competent authority for the recognition by a medal or other suitable insignia for notable humanitarian or patriotic services for the national welfare: Therefore, the executive committee of the American Social Science Association, one of the oldest of nationally incorporated bodies, recommends that a medal to be designated "Liberty Service" medal be authorized. The committee further recommends that the National Institute of Social Sciences be empowered, in accordance with the object of its organization, to award and bestow said medal upon such person or persons as have rendered or may render notable services which merit such special mark of distinction and recognition.” [3] The effect of the National Liberty Committee resolution was that Liberty and Patriotic Service medals were awarded to a number of individuals, both civilian and governmental for their service in a time of war from 1918-1920. The medal in my collection is a bronze Patriotic Service Medal awarded to the Director of the Bureau of Field Nursing Service of the American Red Cross, Clara D. Noyes. The following is the text of her medal citation and response. July 1, 1919 To Miss Clara D. Noyes, As Director of the Bureau of Field Nursing Service of the American Red Cross at national headquarters, you rendered to your country and its wounded a service of high and inestimable value. During the entire period of the war you had charge of the distribution and placing of all the Red Cross nurses assigned to the army, navy and public health. Under your direction, 19,877 nurses have passed through your bureau. American Red Cross, Washington, D. C. My dear Dr. Johnson: It is with keen appreciation of the honor conferred upon me that I acknowledge the receipt of the citation and the Patriotic Service Medal, presented to me by the National Institute of Social Sciences, in recognition of the services I have performed during the war as Director of the Bureau of Field Nursing Service of the American Red Cross. In the selection and assignment of approximately 20,000 nurses to military and civilian duty, I was always keenly alive to the privilege that had been accorded me. Any work or anxiety connected with this responsibility has been more than offset by the devotion, the courage, and the fine character of service rendered by the nurses while engaged in the care of our sick and wounded soldiers and sailors, and the civilian population of our allies. In the name of the nurses I represent, and my own, I again thank you for the honor conferred upon me. Believe me, Very Sincerely yours, Clara D. Noyes, Acting Director, Department of Nursing. [4] According to Medallic Art Company historian D. Wayne Johnson, Laura Gardin Fraser utilized one of eleven monograms when signing her medallic creations. Of interest to me is that she signed this medal “Laura Gardin Fecit,” which is reminiscent of C. GOBRECHT F. on the Gobrecht Dollar. Thus, as long as the National Institute of Social Sciences awards their gold medal, those persons associated with the institute are reminded that “Laura Gardin made it.” [5] As I become more familiar with the work of Laura Gardin Fraser and by extension the work of her husband, James Earle Fraser I am able to see certain similarities in their medallic art. For instance, except for the flame, the torch on the reverse of this 1913 medal is exactly the same as the torch on the obverse of the 1914 American Museum of Public Safety Edward H. Harriman Memorial Medal modeled by James Earle Fraser. Furthermore, I also see similarities in the fonts both Frasers used on their medals. When I mentioned this to a friend who is much more knowledgeable in all things “Fraser” than I, he suggested that if James couldn’t expeditiously finish a medal, Laura would complete the minor devices of the medal such as the torch and legend on the aforementioned public safety medal. Accordingly, it seems that not only did the Frasers have a good marriage but that they were also an artistic team complementing each other. 1. http://www.socialsciencesinstitute.org/ 2. Proceedings of the ... annual meeting of the National Institute of Social Sciences., 9th:no.1 (1922) pg. 99-100 3. Journal of the National Institute of Social Sciences Volume IV April 1, 1918 pg. 173 4. Journal of the National Institute of Social Sciences Volume VI July 1, 1920 pg. 103 5. http://medalartists.com/fraser-laura-gardin.html

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gherrmann44

04/14/2017

 

Shifting Gears and a Different Direction

One might think that shifting gears and a different direction are synonymous. However, the truth is that though related, they are two separate actions. A different direction in that I will be liquidating a portion of my current collection to focus on another and shifting gears in that I will be buying fewer but higher quality coins to upgrade the remaining sets.

All this started with my losing interest in collecting Morgan Dollars. A year or two into collecting Morgans, I got bored with them. With a goal of completing the 103 coin set I was buying coins at a break neck pace that focused on volume rather than quality. To regain interest I thought that all I needed was a break. Though I fully intended to resume purchasing Morgans and completing the set, the longer I was away the less likely it would be that I'd return. Truth is I never got back.

After long and careful consideration, I decided to discontinue collecting Morgans and liquidate the bulk of my Morgan Dollar collection. All told, I will be selling 43 coins. I did not make this decision lightly as I have thought about it carefully for the better part of a year. Yet there are a number of things that led to this decision after going trailblazers for Morgans six to seven years ago when I started out only intending to complete a New Orleans Mint collection. (The decision to collect all the Morgans came after completing the New Orleans portion of the set.)

While away from Morgans, I found myself drifting back to my boyhood roots, type and theme based collecting. I became fixated on completing my 7070 type set and working on my theme based seated imagery custom set. I started to buy the best type coins I could afford and since I was buying fewer coins, I could spend more. I've learned that when it comes to beauty there is nothing like a classic coin in a high state of preservation. These coins are not only more beautiful, they are more likely to hold their value as a highly desirable collector coin. Furthermore, as a person who also loves photography, I have learned that premium quality coins are definitely more photogenic!

What then was the problem I had with Morgans that caused me to give up on them? I think that a collection of affordable quality coins in a complete Morgan Dollar set are a huge show stopper. Affordable coins are sometimes no higher than low MS grades and many are still lower. A VG 93-S will fetch more than $2000! Still I could live with a lower grade as long as it doesn't have distracting contact marks. Simply stated, most MS-62 to 64 Morgans have numerous and distracting contact marks.

High grade Morgans are a thing of beauty. Most MS-65 and higher Morgans are a sight to behold and because of this I am keeping my 24 coin set of Morgans that grade MS-65 and higher. I also have this thing about Carson City, there is just something about Carson City that intrigues me. Therefore, I am also keeping my Carson City registry set. Additionally, I have six GSA pedigreed Carson City Dollars of which two are graded MS-65 (1882, 1883).

Another factor in my decision is that I will be retiring in no more than six years. At that point my collecting activities will be severely curtailed. With this in mind I have targeted a number of coins in my type set to upgrade over the course of the next six years. It is also unlikely that I will be starting any new registry or custom sets but rather find other pieces to add to my custom sets like my Laura Gardin Fraser set.

Another area of focus will be my gold type sets. Finding nice type-1 and type-2 double eagles has proven to be quite challenging because of the distracting contact marks found on most of these coins. Still after long searches I have managed to get an 1852 type-1 that at AU-55 is remarkably void of contact marks! For the type-2 I had to decide what level of contact marks is acceptable since it is nearly an impossible coin to find without them. In deciding my tolerance level I borrowed from a Bible passage which states that love covers over a multitude of sins. In relation to double eagles I found that luster covers over a multitude of dings, gashes, and abrasions. It doesn't literally mean that the contact marks are covered but that they are not as noticeable. All that said, I am still having a hard time finding a decent upgrade for my MS-62 type-3! Oh well, I am going to thoroughly enjoy the hunt in the few last years I have before I retire! Attached is a photo of the AU-58 type-2 that I found to be acceptable.
Gary 

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

03/22/2017

Last Reply:
04/13/2017

Shifting Gears and a Different Direction

One might think that shifting gears and a different direction are synonymous. However, the truth is that though related, they are two separate actions. A different direction in that I will be liquidating a portion of my current collection to focus on another and shifting gears in that I will be buying fewer but higher quality coins to upgrade the remaining sets. All this started with my losing interest in collecting Morgan Dollars. A year or two into collecting Morgans, I got bored with them. With a goal of completing the 103 coin set I was buying coins at a break neck pace that focused on volume rather than quality. To regain interest I thought that all I needed was a break. Though I fully intended to resume purchasing Morgans and completing the set, the longer I was away the less likely it would be that I'd return. Truth is I never got back. After long and careful consideration, I decided to discontinue collecting Morgans and liquidate the bulk of my Morgan Dollar collection. All told, I will be selling 43 coins. I did not make this decision lightly as I have thought about it carefully for the better part of a year. Yet there are a number of things that led to this decision after going trailblazers for Morgans six to seven years ago when I started out only intending to complete a New Orleans Mint collection. (The decision to collect all the Morgans came after completing the New Orleans portion of the set.) While away from Morgans, I found myself drifting back to my boyhood roots, type and theme based collecting. I became fixated on completing my 7070 type set and working on my theme based seated imagery custom set. I started to buy the best type coins I could afford and since I was buying fewer coins, I could spend more. I've learned that when it comes to beauty there is nothing like a classic coin in a high state of preservation. These coins are not only more beautiful, they are more likely to hold their value as a highly desirable collector coin. Furthermore, as a person who also loves photography, I have learned that premium quality coins are definitely more photogenic! What then was the problem I had with Morgans that caused me to give up on them? I think that a collection of affordable quality coins in a complete Morgan Dollar set are a huge show stopper. Affordable coins are sometimes no higher than low MS grades and many are still lower. A VG 93-S will fetch more than $2000! Still I could live with a lower grade as long as it doesn't have distracting contact marks. Simply stated, most MS-62 to 64 Morgans have numerous and distracting contact marks. High grade Morgans are a thing of beauty. Most MS-65 and higher Morgans are a sight to behold and because of this I am keeping my 24 coin set of Morgans that grade MS-65 and higher. I also have this thing about Carson City, there is just something about Carson City that intrigues me. Therefore, I am also keeping my Carson City registry set. Additionally, I have six GSA pedigreed Carson City Dollars of which two are graded MS-65 (1882, 1883). Another factor in my decision is that I will be retiring in no more than six years. At that point my collecting activities will be severely curtailed. With this in mind I have targeted a number of coins in my type set to upgrade over the course of the next six years. It is also unlikely that I will be starting any new registry or custom sets but rather find other pieces to add to my custom sets like my Laura Gardin Fraser set. Another area of focus will be my gold type sets. Finding nice type-1 and type-2 double eagles has proven to be quite challenging because of the distracting contact marks found on most of these coins. Still after long searches I have managed to get an 1852 type-1 that at AU-55 is remarkably void of contact marks! For the type-2 I had to decide what level of contact marks is acceptable since it is nearly an impossible coin to find without them. In deciding my tolerance level I borrowed from a Bible passage which states that love covers over a multitude of sins. In relation to double eagles I found that luster covers over a multitude of dings, gashes, and abrasions. It doesn't literally mean that the contact marks are covered but that they are not as noticeable. All that said, I am still having a hard time finding a decent upgrade for my MS-62 type-3! Oh well, I am going to thoroughly enjoy the hunt in the few last years I have before I retire! Attached is a photo of the AU-58 type-2 that I found to be acceptable. Gary

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

03/21/2017

A Coin of Immense Sentimental Value

The story of this coin starts at work on a summer afternoon in Wisconsin. Working at various cell sites throughout the region, I occasionally have the opportunity to observe different kinds of wildlife. On one of those occasions, I heard what I though to be a hummingbird fly by my ear only to find that it was a large praying mantis. Immediately, I had noticed that the praying mantis had landed on the chain link fence surrounding the cell site. I have seen praying mantis's before but this bug was huge measuring almost two links on the fence! I moved a little nearer to take a closer look and observed the big bug turn its head to look at me. Talk about creepy, just let a huge bug stare you down and see how you feel about it. At that point with cell phone in hand, I took several pictures of the big green monster. Now fast forward a year or so to May 2015 and one of the most frightening experiences a young person can go through, meeting the parents of their boyfriend or girlfriend. In this case it was my son's girlfriend and we decided to meet the first time at a restaurant for my birthday. Whats more, breaking the ice for both parties is always a little awkward. Seeking to discover common points of interest, came the normal questions, what do you do, where did you go to school, where are you from, etc? Yet, I felt it was up to me to make her feel comfortable and at this point I wasn't making much progress. In the course of the conversation I found out that my son's girlfriend had studied zoology in college and loves animals. I do not remember how the conversation turned to praying mantis's but when it had I showed her the cell phone pictures of the praying mantis I encountered at work. She was thrilled with my pictures and stated she had only dealt with immature, much smaller, praying mantis's. Immediately, the atmosphere of our restaurant date eased considerably. Since our conversation was two way, I had no problem telling her of my interest in numismatics. That following Christmas, my son brought his girlfriend to our annual Christmas celebration at my mom's house. Present were my three sisters, my children, and many of my nieces and nephews along with the grand nieces and nephews. Since we have such a large extended family we have a custom of drawing one name from a hat to buy a gift valued at about $25 to exchange. My son's girlfriend decided to participate in our family custom for 2016 and drew none other than yours truly! I usually feel sorry for anyone that draws my name. Everyone knows I collect coins and there are very few things a person could buy for me valued at $25! Because of the weather, my son couldn't make the celebration at my mom's house this year and we decided to meet at a restaurant to exchange gifts and make plans to see the movie "Rogue 1." At dinner my son's girlfriend gave me a small box. Inside was a 2012 Canadian $10 coin featuring you guessed it, a praying mantis! Immediately I made the connection and appreciated her thoughtfulness towards me. For my part, I would have never bought this coin on my own and to tell the truth, I didn't even know it existed. In fact, my son's girlfriend searched e-bay for any coin featuring a praying mantis and only found this one. This then is what makes this a coin of great value, the idea and thought came long before the coin. I hope that you all had a blessed Christmas and I wish you all a very prosperous 2017. Gary To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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01/02/2017

With the Help of New Friends and Resources

Besides world coins, tokens, and medals based on a particular theme, my primary area of numismatic interest is in United States coins. This past year though I have delved into an area of numismatics that until now was unfamiliar to me. Rather than starting another theme based set, I started a set based on the work of a particular sculptor. I started a collection of coins and medals featuring the artwork of Laura Gardin Fraser. While I was somewhat familiar with the coins attributed to Laura Gardin Fraser, the same cannot be said concerning the many medals she designed. Familiarizing myself with her medals became quite a task because she was much more prolific in designing medals than she was with coins. The first thing I wanted to know is what to collect. All her coins are very well known and readily available. However, I had no clue as to the number and availability of the medals Laura Gardin Fraser designed. Later, I was to discover that she may have designed and sculpted up to one hundred medals. A search of the internet produced a medallic art databank created by Medallic Art Company corporate historian, D. Wayne Johnson. Laura Gardin Fraser's databank page was the most important internet resource in helping me to identify her medals. This page had practically everything, a comprehensive list of items by date with pictures, auction appearances, and a bibliography which I found invaluable to my research. I also found the ANA archives of The Numismatist and the Newman Numismatic Portal very useful. The archives of The Numismatist contains numerous articles on Laura Gardin Fraser's work. I even found a couple of the ad pages to be helpful. The Newman Numismatic Portal contains all the medallic art auction catalogs of the Presidential Coin & Antique Company. These catalogs were especially useful because of the lot descriptions and estimated valuations. The valuations helped me to determine what I could expect to pay for the medals in my collection. Along with purchasing new pieces for my collection came new books for my library. These included End of the Trail by Dean Krakel, The US Mint and Coinage by Don Taxay, and Numismatic Art in America by Cornelius Vermeule. Other references included The American Women Medalist, a Critical Survey by Elaine J. Leotti and a January 1970 Coinage Magazine article entitled, Ordeal of Laura Gardin Fraser by Don Taxay. In fact, I think Don Taxay's article in Coinage Magazine is the most credible narrative I have read on the contest for the Washington Quarter. Next, the purchasing avenues for medals is somewhat different from that of coins. However, other places such as E-Bay are pretty much the same. For me, E-Bay was a familiar place in which to begin my collection. It was also a good source of Laura Gardin Fraser's most readily available medals. That said, it didn't take to long for the E-Bay well to dry up. Subsequently, the annual Presidential Coin and Antique auction quickly emerged as a top purchasing outlet for all those difficult to locate medals. In the last Presidential Coin and Antiques auction I passed on a scarce silver Washington medal and ended up winning a silver plated Morgan Horse medal at a price that was towards the bottom of the estimated valuation. What really surprised me about winning this auction is that even before I found out that I had won the auction, or even paid a single red cent, the piece showed up on my doorstep! I've never had this happen before especially since this was my first auction with Presidential. All this brings me to the most important and necessary element of my transition into the world of medals, the human element! While looking for information pertaining to the 1947 MacArthur peso and 50-centavo piece in The Numismatist, I ran across a letter to the editor written by a collector of anything Fraser. This person also included their e-mail address in the body of the letter. With a little encouragement from another of my friends I sent a cold contact e-mail inquiry to the writer of that letter. To my amazement I got much more in his reply than what I had asked for or even hoped for. What I have now is a new friend who is very eager to help me in my quest. One of the resources that I have not had the opportunity to examine is the Fraser family papers. However, my new friend had. As a result I found out the specific contents of a nine-point letter Laura Gardin Fraser had sent to the Philippine embassy chronicling her difficulties with the Philippines peso and 50-centavo coins. Later we had an hour long conversation over the phone about Laura Gardin Fraser and he freely answered a number of my questions. He also e-mailed me some of his own writings on the topic and sent a spreadsheet he had compiled of many of Mrs. Fraser's works. As an extra bonus the spreadsheet contained the latest final hammers for each piece. This was very helpful as a tool to help me gage how much I would have to spend in order to continue this collection. My new friend also watched for buying opportunities on E-Bay and more than once notified me of a piece that his search uncovered and mine missed. My latest two purchases are a direct sale from a friend of my new friend. I purchased the 1912/13 National Institute of Social Sciences medal and the rare 1932 John Endecott Massachusetts Tercentenary medal from this person after a very pleasant half-hour phone conversation and a confirming e-mail. I immediately mailed him a check for the medals and he mailed the medals to me on the next business day. As it turned out, the day my check cleared his bank was the day the medals showed up at my house. This is the way I love to do business and I am impressed with the honesty and integrity of the people I come in contact with in this hobby. It really doesn't get much better than this. And to all those who have helped me in my numismatic journey a hearty, thank you! Gary To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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12/11/2016

The 1923 Morgan Horse Club Award Medal

I have finally completed all the write-ups for The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser. This medal was the last write-up for me to complete. Next year I'll have more medals waiting in the wing to add to this set including the 1912 National Institute of Social Sciences medal and the scarce 1930 Endecott Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary medal. As a young girl, Laura Gardin had always enjoyed her family's summer home in New Jersey where she especially enjoyed riding her horse. It was here that she developed her lifelong love of animals. As a result, it is not unreasonable to speculate that her passion for animals significantly contributed to her skill at sculpting animals and especially horses. [1] In 1923 Laura Gardin Fraser had two significant commissions for medals involving horses. The first was the "Horse Association of America Polo Pony Medal". To more accurately sculpt the clay model for this medal, Mrs. Fraser borrowed some polo mallets from the Horse Association of America. Mallet in hand, Mrs. Fraser would practice striking the balls while on her horse at full gallop in a vacant lot adjacent to her Westport, Connecticut home. This in turn gave her a better feel for the polo rider and his mount. Subsequently, it wasn't too long before the neighbors took notice and pick-up polo matches were in full swing! [2] Her other work in 1923 was "The Morgan Horse Club" medal. There are two uniface versions of this medal. The obverse uniface medal features a single left facing Morgan horse against a mountainous backdrop and the phrase, "The Morgan Horse Club" around the upper rim. The reverse uniface medal features a touching scene of a Morgan mare with her foal and the word "Vermont" as its legend. The state of Vermont is significant in that it was here that the Morgan horse pedigree originated. Beside the two uniface issues, there is a single medal that features the devices of both uniface medals. Later "The Morgan Horse Club" changed their name to "American Morgan Horse Association". In 1972 they re-issued the medal but removed the word club from the obverse legend to reflect this change. The medal I have pictured as the reverse is an uncertified silver plated "obverse uniface" of the re-issued medal. The reverse of this re-struck medal has the initials "AMHA" engraved on it which stands for the "American Morgan Horse Association". Saddle Seat represents a type of riding style that accentuates the horses trot. The date is 1974. The MS-64 certified medal pictured as the obverse is probably one of the original 1923 medals and was most definitely minted earlier than 1972. Furthermore, this medal has both the left facing Morgan horse obverse and the mare and foal reverse. The founding sire of the Morgan horse pedigree was born in 1789 with the given name "Figure". The horses owner was Justin Morgan who was a teacher, composer, businessman, and horseman. Figure was an especially prized horse because of his natural ability to pass on his distinguishing characteristics through several generations. Figure died in 1821, the result of an untreated kick from another horse. The Morgan horse is particular known for its use by the military as a calvary and artillery horse during the civil war. The Morgan horse is also especially well suited to pull a carriage. Morgan horses as a breed are especially attached to their owners. The American Morgan Horse Association has as a motto on their webpage header, "The Horse That Chooses You". [3] [4] Laura Gardin Fraser's early works with horse themed medals helped to prepare her for what some call her greatest work. In 1936 Mrs. Fraser won a $100,000 commission to sculpt a double equestrian sculpture of Civil War Generals Lee and Jackson. This project would take 12 years to complete culminating with the statues' dedication at Wyman Park in Baltimore on May 1, 1948. In an interview with Dean Krakel, Laura Gardin Fraser recalls, "Hard work, horses, research, and imagination went into the statues, and twelve years of my life. A sculptor's life is measured in large chunks of time. A statue like the Lee and Jackson becomes a part of you. It's like raising a child. Of course Jimmy and I carried on other projects at the same time. If a project wasn't literally big and big in importance, then it wasn't really worth the while. Of the one hundred thousand dollars I received for Lee and Jackson, I might have netted fifteen thousand dollars. The architecture alone cost fifty thousand dollars. Then there was the casting and shipping cost. Of course, there is no satisfaction quite like that of a beautifully complete and acceptable creation. Jimmy liked my Lee and Jackson--that was enough." An art critic for the Bridgeport Connecticut Evening News paid Laura Gardin Fraser quite a compliment when based on the strength of her horses, he compared her to famous French animal artist, Rosa Bonheur, calling Mrs. Fraser the "Rosa Bonheur of Sculpture". [5] 1 End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue" by Dean Krakel pg. 32 2 "The Numismatist" July 2013; "Canine & Equine The Art of Laura Gardin Fraser" by Carl Stang 3 Origin of the Morgan Horse; http://www.morganhorse.com/about_morgan/history/ 4 The Morgan Horse-Profiles in History: Introduction; http://www.morganhorse.com/museum/morgan-horse-history/the-morgan-horse-profiles-in-his/ 5 "End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue" by Dean Krakel pg. 37-38 Gary To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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11/11/2016

The Type 1 Liberty Double Eagle

To me there is nothing more beautiful than a strongly struck, mint-state or almost-uncirculated, Type 1 Liberty double eagle with a minimal number of contact marks. Conversely, there is nothing uglier than a heavily worn Type 1 double eagle or a highly graded coin with numerous contact marks. Thus, as a type collector, my challenge is to find a double eagle that meets both my criteria, AND more importantly, is affordable. Fortunately, I had a wide range of dates that I could choose from. Examples of the Type 1 or for that matter Type 2 Liberty double eagle are scarce in mint-state condition. When scanning through numerous auction listings, I just have to stop and stare awhile when I came across an MS-64 example with only a few contact marks. The beauty of these coins simply captivates me. While I've always dreamed of owning the aforementioned coin, realistically I'll probably never be able to afford it. This meant that I was resigned to search through more readily available and affordable AU listings for my collection. I am of the belief that a cherry-picked AU coin can have as much eye appeal as an MS coin and in some cases more. However, when it comes to double eagles, numerous contact marks can be a huge show stopper. I get it that gold is both heavy and soft and thus lends itself more easily to contact marks but if I am going to own just one of these, by golly it's going to have nice eye-appeal. Being a realist, I was also willing to pay a premium over market value for a nice looking coin. After on and off searching, I oddly found the coin I was looking for in one of those web page ads, you know the ones on the top, sides, and bottom of the web page you're surfing. Since I frequent coin sites, the ad was for Heritage. There I found a common date 1852 NGC AU-55 double eagle that was just gorgeous. This coin has NO distracting contact marks, and accenting pockets of mint luster around Liberty's mouth, eyes, hairline, coronet, and head. Adding to the coin's eye appeal is the mint luster in the crevices between the locks of Liberty's hair and in the protected areas around the stars giving them the appearance of glowing. In my mind the only real draw back was a little bit of black and green residue on the coin's reverse. This I quickly determined was something I could live with especially given the fact that I absolutely loved the obverse. Additionally, this coin is strongly struck with full star lines and incredible hair and facial detail making the accenting luster look all the more stunning. In my mind this was a must-have coin and I put in a very strong bid for it that prevailed at the final hammer. When compared to the spaghetti hair style of the Type 3 Liberty double-eagle the hair on the Type 1 is much more realistic, appearing like glistening waves rather than combed spaghetti. The Type 1 almost reminds me of pictured models with beautiful air brushed hair! The down side of the Type 1 Liberty double eagle is that it only takes a little wear to make the hair look matted down and clumped together. Thus a strong strike on the Type 1 is essential to its eye-appeal. Add the contact marks and you are looking at something that is down-right ugly. I'll say this though for the Type 3, and its that it wears much better than its Type 1 and 2 counterparts. What puzzles me about this coin is how it avoided getting the contact marks that are all to common on this type of coin. With that, I formulated a theory which I suppose is as good as any. I theorize that the original owner of this coin picked it up uncirculated at a bank or even at the treasury's cash window. Then that person probably held it as a pocket piece separated from any other coins. It could have been held in a vest pocket which may account for the even polish like wear that contrasts the frosty pockets of mint luster and the fine hairlines in the coin's field. The residue on the reverse could have been from, you guessed it, sweat! Finally, when it comes to eye-appeal I think this coin looks better than most of the MS-62 examples I've seen. Needless to say, this coin is one of my favorite coins that I'm proud to own and at a price that was affordable. Gary To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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gherrmann44

11/04/2016

The 1913 Better Babies Medal

As America entered the 20th Century, our nation began to turn its attention towards addressing a number of social issues. Among the issues we addressed as a nation was our high infant mortality rate. As a means to educate and encourage parents concerning the proper care and hygiene of their children, contests were held at popular public venues. These contests were then used to measure child development among the contestants and gather statistics. Cash prizes and a medal were awarded to the parents of those babies with the highest scores when compared to scientifically established developmental standards. To promote and conduct the contests the "Better Babies Bureau" and the popular Woman's magazine, "Woman's Home Companion" sponsored "Better Babies" contests in a number of county and state fairs across the country. The following is an excerpt from the September 1913 issue of "Woman's Home Companion" concerning the bronze "Better Babies" award medal designed by then sculptor Laura Gardin. (This medal was issued shortly before Laura Gardin's marriage to James Earle Fraser.) And all this time another branch of the Better Babies Bureau had been working out plans for prizes, medals, and certificates of award which will be used this year at all state fairs holding Better Babies contests. " A Better Babies Medal, to be cast in gold, silver and Bronze!" A very pleasing Idea, and one which ought, by good rights, to be entrusted to a woman. So one of the Companion's art editors went hunting for just the right sculptress to design it. He found her in that quaint section of old New York known as Greenwich Village, perched under a skylight, far above the roar of the elevated railway traffic. Her name is Laura Gardin, and she ranks among the most successful of America's young sculptors. Her mother was a water-color artist of considerable note and her grandfather was Theodore Tilton, artist, poet, and journalist, equally well known in America and in France, where he spent his declining years. Miss Gardin began to study sculpture at the Art League when at seventeen years of age. There she captured the St. Gaudens prizes for composition and for figure from life, with the corresponding scholarships. After three years' work at the League she studied with J. E. Fraser, who, by the way, designed the new nickel for the United States Government. She has exhibited regularly at the spring and fall exhibitions of the Art League. Some of her best known works are: a heroic figure of Booth as "Hamlet"; "Timidity," a charmingly graceful female figure; "The Wrestlers," shown at the recent Gorham exhibit of bronzes, and the official medal of Cardinal Farley, done in 1912 to celebrate his elevation to the cardinalate. It was this medal which won for Miss Gardin the very desirable distinction of membership in the National Sculpture Society. When she undertook the commission of designing the Better Babies medal, Miss Gardin decided to employ no one model but to study babies collectively--babies of the rich and babies of the poor, babies on parade and babies rolling on the sand and in gutters, and particularly babies splashing in their bath. The result is the wonderfully human pair of babies which make the Better Babies medal greatly admired by artists. They are real flesh and blood babies, not idealized cherubs. Miss Gardin watched jealously every step in the casting of the medals. "No harsh lines," she warned the workers, "Better Babies have soft, vague lines. Their dimples come and go. Their curves are changeable, elusive and, whether they be blond or brunette, they have what I call a blond softness which is expressed in the single word innocence." [1] Concerning the artistic appeal of the Better Babies medal, Elaine J. Leotti in The American Woman Medalist, A Critical Survey comments, "Fraser's Better Babies medal done in 1913 for the Woman's Home Companion is her only piece which can truly be called feminine. It is a well-balanced medal, nicely executed if a bit on the sentimental side. The babies' bare flesh is soft, almost palpable; their curls and dimpled elbows invite touch, thus appealing exactly to the audience the medal was meant to impress." [2] [1] "Woman's Home Companion" Vol 40, September 1913 pg. 22 [2] "The American Woman Medalist, A Critical Survey" by Elaine J. Leotti pg. 212 To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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10/28/2016

My Life as a YN

Today as a 58 year old coin collector I occasionally think back on my years as a YN (young numismatist). I have very fond memories of those days and the coins I collected, many of which I still proudly own today. Those were the days when I could spend the lion's share of the money I earned doing odd jobs on coins. At no other time in my life could I do this as I did when I was a YN because my parents provided the cloths on my back, a roof over my head, and plenty of good food to eat! The only stipulation they made was that I save half the money I earned and pay for things like gas for the car, insurance, and blue jeans! Yes, my parents paid for my dress cloths but as for the jeans they didn't like, well for those I was on my own. All these stipulations I gladly agreed to. I got my first job when I was 14 years old as a golf caddie at the local country club. I made a whooping $3.85 plus tips for 18 holes! When I was 16 I got a job working on a farm for $1.50/hour. Since the farm job was a summer job, I started working at a restaurant in the fall for $2.10/hour busting suds (dishwasher). With this my parents stipulated that I maintain a B average at school to keep my job. To buy more coins, I heartily agreed to this also. As a youth I had two main interests, coins and photography. I was very fortunate to go to a school that had a dark room for me to develop and print my own pictures. Of all the places to buy my first coin, I bought it at a photographic supplies store. This store in addition to photographic supplies had a glass display case full of various numismatic items. There I bought a proof-like 1881-S Morgan Dollar and a crisp uncirculated $2 star note. Both of these I still own today. As a YN I was interested in collecting silver dollars and numismatic oddities such as the half cent, 2-cent piece, 3-cent silver and nickel pieces, and the 20-cent piece. I was also interested in coins bearing the mint marks of obsolete mints such as New Orleans, Carson City, Charlotte, and Dahlonega. To top that off I loved the coins listed in the back of the Red Book where all the gold coins resided. Throughout all my life, gold coins have never circulated and the fact that they were obsolete in circulation attracted me to them. In the early 70's it was difficult to buy coins unless there was a dealer in town. Unfortunately, the photographic supply merchant only sold coins on the side. There was no internet either, thus if you wanted to follow numismatics you had to subscribe to any of a number of hobby periodicals. Growing up in Wisconsin, those were Krause Publications like Coins Magazine and Numismatic News. What these publications offered in addition to interesting articles was a mail-order marketplace for coins. It is through mail-order that I bought an 1885-CC Morgan Dollar from the Lavere Redfield hoard, an 1876 20-cent piece, an 1881 half-eagle (my first gold coin), and an 1858-C half-eagle. At that time, the Charlotte half-eagle cost me a whopping $350! It took a lot of hours working at $2.10/hour to buy that coin! Adding up the cost of all those coins, it was pretty amazing what I bought with the money I earned! It was a pretty rare event that the small town in which I lived hosted a coin show and I remember only one such opportunity to go. At the first and only coin show I attended as a YN, I bought an 1828 half-cent. Now my only regret is that I should never have sold that coin. All the other aforementioned coins I still own today. I also purchased a few books as a YN, first and foremost among them was the Red Book of United States Coins. I literally wore out the binding of my Red Book paging through it and dreaming of the coins I wanted to buy someday. I also purchased the official ANA New Photograde Guide for Grading US Coins. I still find the Photograde Guide a useful book today! Today I own coins from all the US Mints along with a Morgan Dollar collection that is 68% complete including a VG-10 93-S. Additionally, I have a complete Dansco 7070 type set with gold coins that I am currently upgrading. Later in my life as I started assembling topically themed sets, I began collecting medals and world coins. Finally, if I were to have any advice for YN's today, I would tell them to dream big and to start building on and realizing some of those dreams today! Furthermore, todays YN's can't read enough books about the coins they want to collect. Lastly, my parents were wise to not sacrifice my school work for coins. You see, if you excel in your school work today you will only help yourself to earn enough money to realize many, if not all, your numismatic dreams tomorrow. Still living the dream, I recently won a type 1 double-eagle and as such it represents one of the coins I dreamed about when I thumbed through my Red Book some 40+ years ago. Happy Collecting to all and by all means enjoy this wonderful hobby that we share together. Gary To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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09/18/2016

The NYU Hall of Fame for Great Americans Medals

The New York University Hall of Fame for Great Americans is a 630 foot outdoor colonnade featuring the sculpted busts of 98 out of the 102 honorees elected into it. The Hall of Fame was conceived by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, (Chancellor of New York University from 1891 to 1910) and was formally dedicated on May 30, 1901. The Hall of Fame for Great Americans currently stands on the campus of the Bronx Community College. (New York University closed due to financial difficulties in 1973). [1] [2] The first of its kind in America, the inspiration for the hall is explained by the following paragraph copied directly from the Mary Lyon Medal COA: The spirit of The Hall of Fame is reflected in the following lines from the Old Testament: "Let us now praise famous men, by whom the Lord hath wrought great glory....All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times..." Carved in stone on the pediments of The Hall of Fame are the words: "By wealth of thought, or else by mighty deed, They served mankind in noble character. In worldwide good they live forevermore." Mary Lyon (1797-1849) served as an educator and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1905. A pioneer in higher education for women, Mary Lyon opened the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now College). The original curriculum included mathematics, English, science, philosophy and Latin. Under her guidance and with her constant labor, the school gained a national reputation for its enlightened curriculum and high academic standards, a reputation maintained to this day. [3] The practice of issuing accompanying medals for the Hall of Fame honorees came about through a coalition between New York University, the National Sculpture Society to oversee and approve the designs, the Medallic Art Company to manufacture the medals, and the Coin and Currency Institute to market them. A full page add in the October 1962 issue of "The Numismatist" introduced the 1 3/4 inch medals for sale in either silver or bronze. Issued at a rate of about one or two per month, the issue price of the silver medal was $14 while the bronze medal sold for $3. The program which began in 1962 ended in 1974 with 96 medals created by 42 sculptors. In addition to the smaller silver and bronze medals, there were also larger 3 inch bronze medals available for purchase. The success of the Hall of Fame medal program was due in part to the art director at the Medallic Art Company, Julius Lauth. Julius knew which sculptors identified with the theme of each medal and as a result the commission for the medals was first offered to the sculptor who had completed the bronze bust on the colonnade. Therefore, since Laura Gardin Fraser did the bust of Mary Lyon in 1927, she got the commission for the accompanying medal. Mrs. Fraser completed the sketches for the Mary Lyon Medal and had them approved by the by the art committee before her death on August 14, 1966. [3] [4] [5] At Mrs. Fraser's death, Julius Lauth assigned sculptor Karl Gruppe to finish the models for the Mary Lyon medal based on the sketches done by Mrs. Fraser. Karl Gruppe, an associate of Laura Gardin Fraser in her Art Students League days was chosen to complete the medal because his artistic style was similar to that of Mrs. Fraser's. [4] The following is a description taken from the 1967 dated Mary Lyon Medal COA: "The obverse is a fine classical profile portrait of Miss Lyon; the reverse is a typical scene depicting her continuing role as an educator, and is a capsule story of her dedicated life". Over her long career as a sculptor, I find it interesting that Laura Gardin Fraser was equally capable of designing medals that were feminine in nature as is the Mary Lyon medal and masculine as is the obverse of the Oregon Trail commemorative. Of certainty, Laura Gardin Fraser was a truly remarkable sculptor. 1 Bronx Community College, http://www.bcc.cuny.edu/halloffame/ 2 Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_of_Fame_for_Great_Americans 3 Mary Lyon Medal COA 4 Medalblog, Hall of Fame Series - The Most Successful Medal Program by D. Wayne Johnson, December 3, 2012 5 Hall of Fame at New York University Medal Series by D. Wayne Johnson 2004, Medal Collectors of America; http://www.medalcollectors.org/Guides/HFGA/HFGA.html To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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08/27/2016

The 1952 West Point USMA Sesquincentenial Medal

Over her long and distinguished career Laura Gardin Fraser had a very cordial relationship with the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Both Frasers loved America and the Armed Forces of the United States. Many of their military related commissions not only included medallic art, but also full size sculptures and smaller bronzes. There are three significant works Mrs. Fraser completed for The United States Military Academy. The first is a 1952 bronze medal commemorating the sesquicentennial of the USMA. Struck by the Medallic Art Corporation, this medal was presented to the parents of the cadets who entered the academy that year. A small insert reads, "A memento of the United States Military Academy to the parents or guardians of the cadets who entered the Military Academy in the Sesquicentennial Year". The medal's obverse displays the flaming torch of leadership, the sword of valor, and a laurel wreath representing victory. The reverse emphasizes the United States Military Academy Coat of Arms set underneath a rising sun. Across the face of the Union Shield is a sword and the helmet of Pallas Athena. Athena is associated with the arts of war and her helmet represents wisdom and learning. Perched atop the shield is a bald eagle clutching a bundle of 13 arrows and a scroll. The scroll bears the academy's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country" and the words, "West Point, MDCCCII (1802) USMA. In front of the eagle's right wing is an oak branch signifying strength and on the left an olive branch signifying peace. [1][2] Laura Gardin Fraser's next work for the United States Military Academy was the 1957 Sylvanus Thayer medal. This medal exhibits a profile bust of Sylvanus Thayer on its obverse and the coat of arms on the reverse. The Sylvanus Thayer medal is awarded annually by the USMA Association of Graduates to an outstanding citizen who in service to America exemplifies the USMA values of duty, honor, and country. Sylvanus Thayer known as the "father of the Military Academy" served as the United States Military Academy's Superintendent from 1817 until 1833. Under his leadership the USMA became a pioneering engineering school whose graduates were largely responsible for the construction of the nations initial rail lines, bridges, harbors, and roads. [3][4] Laura Gardin Fraser once said that, "A sculptors life is measured in large chunks of time." Three 9x4 bronze relief panels chronicling almost five centuries of American history represents one of those large chunks of time in Mrs. Fraser's life. The following is quoted in an interview with Dean Krakel concerning the aforementioned panels, "I began this project making little vignettes of historical figures in clay. We seem to know so little about American history, and so having begun this in 1935, I began to accumulate an interesting collection. I started doing events from history and animals purely American like--the skunk. Then I started sorting and organizing my figures in chronological order, placing them on large tablets. These became like the leaves of a book. This essentially is how I started the project. For a long time I thought I was doing them for love of my country, as no one or institution seemed interested." Eventually, the United States Military Academy took an interest in Mrs. Fraser's panels and they were cast into bronze. Then finally in 1964 after nearly 30 years, they were unveiled at the dedication of the Academy's new library in the portico of the library's entrance. The first panel begins with the exploration of Leif Ericson and extends all the way through to the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War. The second panel includes westward expansion, the development of American political parties, and the Mexican, Civil, and Indian Wars. Panel three illustrates industrial development, modern inventions, labor unions, the depression, the World Wars, and the atomic bomb. [5] 1 The United States Military Academy West Point, http://www.usma.edu/news/sitepages/coat %20of%20arms%20and%20motto.aspx 2 Medal Commemorates West Point Sesquicentennial by Fred Reed 10/4/99, http:// www.pcgs.com/News/Medal-Commemorates-West-Point-Sesquicentennial 3 The United States Military Academy West Point, http://www.usma.edu/wphistory/SitePages/ Home.aspx 4 Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvanus_Thayer_Award 5 End of the Trail, The Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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08/18/2016

The 1928 Lindbergh Medal

On May 4, 1928, the Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution authorizing the striking of a gold medal to be presented to Charles A Lindbergh. This medal was to commemorate him for the first non-stop transatlantic flight between New York and Paris on May 20-21, 1927. In a ceremony held on August 15, 1930, President Hoover presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Charles A. Lindbergh. The resolution also provided for the striking of no more than 10 million bronze medals to be sold to the public at no cost to the treasury. Moreover, a commission was established to manage the sales. The profits from the medals were to be used for purchasing the Lindbergh homestead in Little Falls, Minnesota ($250,000) and for the construction and equipping of a Lindberg museum in St. Louis, Missouri ($250,000). Any profits exceeding the budgeted $500,000 were to be spent on aviation research. The sale of these medals continued into the 1970's. My medal is one of the later medals as determined by the different methods of mint packaging over the years. [1] The following excerpt is copied from a notice in the January 1929 issue of The Numismatist announcing Laura Gardin Fraser as the designer of the Lindbergh gold medal; "A profile sketch of Col. Charles Lindbergh will be drawn by a woman artist chosen to design the medal, authorized by Congress, commemorating his transatlantic flight. When the young American flyer, who is known as the most photographed man in America, could not produce a suitable portrait of himself in profile, tentative sketches were submitted by artists. Mrs. Laura Gardin Fraser of Westport, Connecticut, has announced that her sketch met with approval and that Colonel Lindbergh will sit for his portrait at her New York studio. When designed the medal will have on one side a profile of the Colonel with his flying headgear on. The other side will represent an allegorical figure flying through space. The American flag will serve as part of the background while the rest of the background will be made up of stars emblematic of Colonel Lindbergh's flight through night as well as day. (Note: The picture I use as this medal's reverse was taken at the Fraser's New York studio. Though nobody can tell for sure, the hands shown holding the background are believed to be those of Laura Gardin Fraser.) [2] Along with Charles A. Lindbergh, the Fraser's brushed shoulders with, or counted as friends, some of the most influential Americans of their time. Early in their marriage James was a fan and personal friend of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and if he was in New York, he seldom missed a Yankee home game. James Earle Fraser learned more from Augustus St. Gardens than just art, he also learned to play golf. At the Fraser home in West Port, Connecticut, James liked to drive golf balls from their 1.5 story, 30 x 60 foot studio. Memorable to Laura was Jimmy at their studio with Admiral King, Admiral Halsey, General Marshall and General Arnold all laughing and taking their turns hitting golf balls. [3] One of the Fraser's closest friend was poet Edwin Arlington Robinson. Edwin was a frequent house guest of the Frasers and they often dined out together and spent their evenings playing poker. Once Laura, as described in "The End of the Trail", cleaned out both Jimmy and Edwin with a royal flush. Another time the Fraser's received an invitation to Thomas Edison's home for lunch with others of his luncheon guests. Over lunch, Mr. Edison simply sat and dreamed away as his guests ate and talked. Laura sculpted a relief portrait of her close friend, Mrs. E.H. Harriman the wife of railroad magnate E.H. Harriman. A profile bust of Mrs. Harriman designed on a plaque won Laura the Saltus Medal of the National Academy of design in 1928. A sampling of the other names the Frasers met or were friends are names like Roosevelt, Ford, Byrd, and Hershey. [4] 1. The Numismatist, April 1928, pg. 234-235 2. James Earle Fraser & Laura Gardin Fraser Studio Papers, The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Box 6/Folder 4 3. End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, pg. 51-52 4. End of the Trail, the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, Chapter 3 To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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08/07/2016

The 1920 Army Navy Chaplains Medal

I know I posted about acquiring this medal earlier, but since then I have had this medal graded. I am also including in this post more of the background information associated with this medal. The last time I posted I started a lively thread on the merits of certifying medals (Actually user RWB in response to my post did). The final grade of this medal represents one of many reasons I am grading the medals in my Laura Gardin Fraser set. I am thrilled with the MS-63 grade this medal received. Before mailing the medal to NGC, MS-63 was my estimation of the best case scenario. Both Laura Gardin and James Earle Fraser loved America and the United States Armed Forces. During World War 1 Laura served her country in one of only a few ways available to women. An independent minded woman, she served as a captain in the American Volunteer Motor Ambulance Corps transporting wounded soldiers.[1] I believe this experience made Laura Gardin Fraser uniquely qualified to design the 1920 Army Navy Chaplains Medal. The obverse of this medal perfectly illustrates the compassion of The Good Samaritan typical of Army chaplains who ministered to wounded soldiers on the front lines. I used The following excerpt from the Federal Council Bulletin Vol. 3 No. 5 May 1920 to support my claim. The Chaplains Medal The medal to be given by the Protestant churches united in war work to all their chaplains of the American Army and Navy who served in the war is the work of Mrs. Laura Gardin Fraser, of New York, one of the best known of American medalists. The task which was given to Mrs. Fraser was to produce a design which would express the spirit of the men who served as chaplains and which should represent both branches of the service. That the sculptor has achieved a notable success and produced a medal of rare distinction and beauty is the judgment of competent artists and critics. In the design for the chaplains medal, Mrs. Fraser has chosen to represent an army chaplain in the act of supreme service, ministering at the risk of his own life to a wounded man. To those familiar with experiences at the front, the danger of the situation will be at once apparent. In the center of the design the gas mask is seen, ready for immediate adjustment. Indeed, the suggestion is that the chaplain has, perhaps, momentarily removed it, the better to succor the wounded man. Each detail of the chaplains equipment has been carefully scrutinized and pronounced correct by more than one who served at the front. Strength and sympathy are expressed in the finely modeled figure of the chaplain. The figure of the wounded man represents one of those who served the big guns and were frequently stripped to the waist when in action. This choice of a subject appealed to the sculptor for its artistic possibilities. The very strength of the splendidly modeled back seems by contrast to accentuate the helplessness of the wounded gunner. The fine record of the men who served as chaplains in the Navy, many of them constantly passing back and forth through the submarine danger zone, ministering to the crews of the naval vessels and the soldiers on the transports, is recalled by the representation of the battleship on the reverse of the medal. The design of this side, with the cross as the central feature, is dignified and strong. If the thought occurs that not all the chaplains were privileged to serve as the chaplain represented on the obverse of the medal, the answer is that the design expresses the kind of service for which every man who entered the chaplaincy in both the Army and Navy was ready and eager. The striking of these medals is the realization of a suggestion made soon after the armistice in the Executive Committee of the General War-Time Commission of the Churches. The Committee approved the proposal and made it one of the tasks committed to the General Committee on Army and Navy Chaplains when the War-Time Commission dissolved. It is hoped the medals will have a permanent value for those who receive them. They are the gift of the churches which worked in closest fellowship during the war in carrying out their common tasks through the War-Time Commission. The medals are intended to convey in tangible form a message of grateful appreciation from the churches to their chaplain sons who were ready to give up life itself, if necessary, in the service of their fellows in the Army and Navy. The churches are proud indeed of the splendid record the chaplains made. A word of gratitude should be said for the interest taken by the sculptor in her task. Mrs. Fraser brought to it an understanding sympathy without which so satisfying a result could never have been obtained. The medals are to be struck in bronze by the Gorham Company of New York. The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America originally budgeted $25,000 towards the production of these medals [2] 1 The Numismatist; July 2013, pg. 35 2 Federal Council Bulletin Vol. 3 No. 4 April 1920 To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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07/30/2016

The Centennial Medal of the American Numismatic Society

This is the second of what I hope will be three finished descriptions this week. This set is coming along rather nicely and I added the Grant Dollar to the Laura Gardin Fraser set two weeks ago. I hope that you enjoy my post, I am learning a lot about the Fraser's and I believe the cumulative descriptions are beginning to give me a glimpse into the heart of Laura Gardin Fraser. The American Numismatic Society was founded in New York on April 6, 1858, to advance numismatic knowledge. In 1958 the Society had reached its 100th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion Laura Gardin Fraser, winner in 1926 of the Societys J. Sanford Saltus Award for distinguished accomplishment in medallic art, was commissioned to design the medal. A formal celebration of the Societys Centennial was held on April 12, 1958, at the auditorium of the Society's neighbor, the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The accompanying medal represents a continuance of the celebration and will be named the Centennial Medal of The American Numismatic Society. [1] The Centennial Medal of the American Numismatic Society was made to order through the American Numismatic Society. This 89mm bronze medal struck by the Medallic Art Company had an original purchase price of $3.50. [2] I am not sure how it came about that Mrs. Fraser got the commission to design the Centennial Medal of The American Numismatic Society. Nor am I in any way suggesting that there was any impropriety involved. However, I am discovering that many of Americas most prominent sculptors of the early twentieth-century were part of a small and tight knit community centered in New York at the Art Students League. Consequently, the lions share of commissions came to the members of this community. As an aside, I like to think of this community as the legacy of Augustus Saint-Gaudens since many of the accomplished sculptors of the early twentieth- century trained and apprenticed there under his instruction. One of those Art Students League sculptors was Anna Hyatt Huntington. Laura Gardin Fraser and Anna Hyatt Huntington were not only associates of one another, but friends. In 1923 Anna Hyatt married philanthropist, Archer Huntington. Archer Huntington was the president of the American Numismatic Society between 1905 and 1910, after which he was the Societys honorary president and council-member until his death in 1955. [3] Due to Annas health, the Huntingtons bought a 9,100 acre tract of land just south of Murrells Inlet, SC originally intending for it to be their winter home. Born of an artistic and natural vision, the Huntingtons opened a sculpture and botanical garden on their property in 1932 that they named BrookGreen Gardens. BrookGreen Gardens was built in part as place for Anna and other sculptors to display their works of art. Today BrookGreen Gardens is a registered national historic place with 1445 works of American sculpture. [4] One of the 1445 sculptures in BrookGreen Gardens is an enormous granite sculpture of Pegasus and a rider in the clouds completed by Laura Gardin Fraser in 1954. The basis for the granite sculpture was Mrs. Fraser's 1927 sculpture entitled Air. This much smaller sculpture features Pegasus being ridden by Apollo which is symbolic of mans spirit and aspirations. [5] Therefore, I think it was Pegasus that brought this around full circle resulting with the commission for the medal going to Laura Gardin Fraser. Pegasus was a favorite subject of Mrs. Frasers and she has the following to say about the design features of the Centennial Medal of The American Numismatic Society: The Science of Numismatics engages the imagination of the artist who creates a design in sculptured form, and the artisan who reproduces that model in permanent metal. When Nature petrified the first forms of animal and plant life, Nature made the first dies. The obverse of the American Numismatic Society Centennial Medal shows the potential archeologist, who, having broken the stone asunder, discovers a petrified animal form in one half and in the other a perfect impression of it, or the die. Since tablets, coins and medals constitute the authority for historical data and our earliest civilizations expressed themselves in terms of their particular mythologies, on the reverse of the medal I used the Pegasus as a symbol of the arts, to indicate as in a vision, that numismatics was a science from the era of Pegasus to the geo-physical year of the harnessing of the atom. To the fore of this mission are the artisans who are in the act of forging a medal, using such tools as are the basis of modern medal making. [6] 1 The accompanying COA for the Centennial Medal of the American Numismatic Society 2 The Numismatist, April 1958, pg. 406-407 3 The American Numismatic Society, http://www.numismatics.org/Archives/HuntingtonBio 4 Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brookgreen_Gardens 5 medallicartcollector.com 6 The accompanying COA for the Centennial Medal of the American Numismatic Society To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. 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06/23/2016

The George Washington Bicentennial Medal

Writing descriptions for the coins and medals in my sets is time consuming for me. First comes the hours of trying to uncover even the most obscure of information about the subject which I am writing. Finally, I have to figure out based on a theme what to write and what to leave out. Then I have to present my description in a readable, grammatically correct way as not to bore the reader. Its quite exasperating but at the same time enjoyable. With a week off from work, I have time to get things done around the house AND to write! I hope you enjoy my latest post! Among the greatest of accolades an artist can receive is if a group of his or hers peers recognizes them for their artistry. This honor was effectively bestowed on Laura Gardin Fraser when a special committee of sculptors selected her design for the official 1932 medal of the United States Commission for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington. That committee made up of a virtual whos who in American sculpture consisted of Daniel Chester French, Herbert Adams, Lorado Taft, and A. A. Weinman. With the committees selection, the National Commission of Fine Arts unanimously approved Mrs. Frasers design to be struck by the United States Mint under the supervision of Mint Director Robert J. Grant.[1] On page 4 in the January 1934 issue of The Numismatist is the following description of the medals design features. Obverse, bust of Washington in military uniform in center. Above, Washington, Under bust, in small letters, Laura Gardin Fraser, Sculptor. Below in a straight line, 1782, 1932 separated by the Washington coat-of-arms. Reverse, figure of Liberty holding a torch in her uplifted right hand and a sheathed sword in her left hand. Above, to the left of the figure an eagle with outspread wings, and above, 13 stars grouped in two lines. Straight across lower half of medal in two lines separated by the figure, Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land. The reverse also shows that the eagle is perched atop a fasces. The Washington Bicentennial of Birth medal struck in platinum, silver, and bronze is 75.5mm in diameter. An exact duplicate of the bronze medal but only 58mm in diameter was struck by the US Mint for sale to collectors. The medal in my collection is the 75.5mm bronze variety. The 75.5mm bronze medal was to be used by the United States Commission for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington as a medal of award in connection with national essay, oratorical and declamatory contests sponsored by the commission.[2] The platinum medal is one of a kind and the first ever struck in platinum by the United States Mint. Struck from the master dies, this medal weighs in at a full pound. In a ceremony on the south lawn of the White House on December 1, 1932, the platinum medal was presented to President Herbert Hoover, Chairman of United States Commission for the Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington. Laura Gardin Fraser was present at the Philadelphia Mint on February 4, 1932 for the striking of the platinum medal and had this to say as expressed by Charles Engelhard, whose company donated the platinum for the medal. After scrutinizing the medal as it came from the press in the Medal Room of the Philadelphia Mint, Mrs. Fraser expressed her complete satisfaction with its artistic success. She pointed out that the use of platinum retained without impairment all the finest details of the sculptors art in plaster, retaining the design without need of oxidation or other artificial treatment in order to successfully carry out the work.[3] Mrs. Fraser was very good at keeping a diary. She wrote not only of James and hers work, but also of their social life. In November of 1930 Mrs. Fraser wrote about beginning her work on the Washington Medal. In December of 1930, she wrote of completing the Washington medal for the competition. Concurrently, she wrote about celebrating James 54th birthday in November with a party at Tide Hill Tavern, near Westport, Connecticut and moving to their winter home in New York City the next day. In December Mrs. Fraser writes, A Merry time! A beautiful, crystal clear, cold, wonderful Christmas![4] 1 The Numismatist, October 1931, pg. 738 2 The Numismatist, January 1934, pg. 4 3 The Numismatist, January 1961, pg. 18-20 4 End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, pg. 44-45 To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

06/21/2016

The 1957 Oklahoma Semicentennial Medal

Thematic coins and medals based on western subjects were a favorite of both Frasers. James Earle Fraser was born in Winona, Minnesota on November 4, 1876. In 1880 his family moved to Mitchell in the Dakota Territory. It was here in the vast openness of the American frontier that James love of the West grew. In the case of Laura Gardin Fraser, I believe it was her love of American history, the allure and excitement of the American frontier, and her love of horses that inspired her rendition of the Oklahoma Run on the 1957 Oklahoma Semicentennial Medal.[1] The motivation for James and Lauras love of the West impacted their interpretation of it. In an interview with Mrs. Fraser, Dean Krakel, the author of End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue writes in his book; There is a mood not only to our lives but to our studio and to everything we have ever done. I saw the frontier in a different light from Jimmy. I saw it with all its glamour, excitement, and motion and so created my Oklahoma Run. Jimmy saw the spiritual mood, the tragedy and emotional undercurrents of the frontier and so created his End of the Trail. Late in his life, James Earle Fraser received a commission from the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds to sculpt a relief panel of the 1889 Oklahoma Run. With his health failing and near death James asked Laura to finish the panel which at the time was only in the preliminary stages of design. Based on James sketches, Laura finished the 4 x 20 foot panel in 1955, two years after his death. The relief panel features more than 250 figures composed primarily of horses and riders. Unfortunately, due to several disagreements it was not delivered until after Lauras death in 1966 and a decade after the 1957 Oklahoma semicentennial celebration. The "Run of 1889" relief panel that is a model for the obverse of the Oklahoma Semicentennial Medal currently resides at Oklahoma City's Bicentennial Plaza.[2][3] Mrs. Fraser brilliantly captures a snapshot of all the chaos, excitement, and fast movement of the Oklahoma Run featured on the obverse of the Oklahoma Semicentennial medal. Up for grabs on April 22,1889 was 2 million acres of land and 50,000 people simultaneously vying for it. As mentioned in a previous paragraph, Mrs. Fraser captures all the glamour, excitement, and motion of the American frontier on the obverse of this medal.[4] The highest relief devices on the obverse of this medal are the largest and most detailed images. The horses have their muscles flexed in full gallop and give an impression of fast motion. As the relief lowers so does the size and detail of the images until the images forming the lowest relief are very small and numerous. This gives the medal a three dimensional look to the action portrayed on the obverse. At the highest relief is a cloud of dust which frames the devices. A few wagons, one just behind the central horse and rider and a covered wagon towards the back adds diversity to the devices. The following is a description of the reverse as given by the editor of The Numismatist, Elston G. Bradfield in the June 1958 issue of The Numismatist; Reverse: Around, at top, OKLAHOMA SEMI-CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION, at bottom, OKLAHOMA CITY; in center, two dramatic figures facing left, one representing energy and progress and the other imagination and vision; woven into the design are symbols of each activity that is derived from the earth, the air, fire and water. Harvesting is suggested by the scythe, mining by the pick, electricity by the wheels, animal husbandry by the cow and sheep, and power by the waterfall, oil wells and atomic symbol. The figure of Vision reflects the reverence that comes to him from on High. The symbol of the arrow piercing the symbol of atomic energy was the theme of the Oklahoma Semicentennial Exposition, Arrows to Atoms in 50 years. To the left of the central figures is 1907 and to right, 1957. In exergue, ~ PROGRESS ~ VISION~." Certainly, Laura Gardin Fraser employed numerous and appropriate symbols to tell the story of Oklahoma on the reverse of this medal. This medal is struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company and is 76mm in diameter. Distribution was by the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce at a cost of $7.50 each.[5] [1] End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel; Chapters 2 & 4. [2] The Numismatist, July 2013, Canine & Equine the Art of Laura Gardin Fraser, pg. 36-37. [3] End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel; Chapter 4. [4] Wikipedia, Land Rush of 1889; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Rush_of_1889. [5] The Numismatist, June 1958, page 664

gherrmann44

gherrmann44

06/02/2016