It’s been a long time since I've written an original blog here. It's not that I didn't have anything new to say but that I've had other responsibilities and distractions getting in the way. However, behind the scenes, I have been accumulating bits and pieces of news about my Laura Gardin Fraser collection.
The first big bit of news came to me in the form of an e-mail from my LGF go-to guy. It seems that my friend is moving and wanted to lighten his load. Then as I read further into the body of the e-mail, he went on to offer me ALL his research on Laura Gardin Fraser. I about fell off my chair. Are you kidding? Of course, I want it!
Not long after that, the research arrived in the mail. It included several old editions of the National Geographic magazine featuring medals that LGF designed for them. On top of that, there were two large folders containing newspaper clippings, quotes, emails and other records that will prove invaluable to my research. Over the years, he has been very generous about sharing information with me and he is a good friend. I finally met him in person one year at the Central States show and took him out dinner. Now he has dinner for life anytime our paths cross again!
The American Bar Association awards a Laura Gardin Fraser designed medal every year for, "Exceptionally distinguished service by a lawyer or lawyers to the cause of American jurisprudence." Awarded versions of this medal are next to impossible to come by and very expensive when available. I have several different Ebay searches set up and an unawarded version of this medal became available early in January.
This medal is a gilded bronze version of the ABA gold medal. From the picture, it appears that the gilt did not uniformly take on the medal. I believe that this caused the seller to call this medal a fake in his description. My first thought was who would strike a 73mm medal that would have been more expensive to produce than the price the seller was asking? I ran this through my LGF go-to friend and he didn't think it was a fake either. With practically nothing to lose, I bought it for significantly less than I could expect to pay for an awarded medal. Now I'm going to submit this medal to NGC for authentication at some point in the near future.
Next, for several months I've been tracking a 1970's silver restrike of Laura Gardin Fraser's 1930 inaugural issue of the Society of Medalists medallion on Ebay. Of a maximum mintage of 700, the 72mm, 7 ¼ ounces .999 silver medallion has a reported mintage of only 125. The listing for the medallion was a buy it now that I have seen go for less in other auctions.
Finally, the seller sent me an offer to buy it for less than the BIN asking price. Even so, the medallion was still listed for more than I wanted to pay. However, he had the "make an offer" button highlighted and I sent him a fair offer. For several days he had not replied and I thought the offer expired. That was until I found an invoice for the medallion in my inbox and it was a sale.
This all brings me to the last bit of news and the reason for the title of this blog. Recently I received an e-mail from so-called dollar dealer Jeff Shevlin about an item I had on his watchlist. In an effort to update his list, he wanted to know if I still wanted the so-called dollar he had for me on his watchlist. I replied that I already had the piece in question and that he should take it off the list.
Just for curiosities sake I went through his inventory to see if he had anything else of interest and I found a medal commemorating the centennial of Oregon statehood. Interestingly, the reverse of that medal is a variation of the Conestoga Wagon obverse (US Mint definition) on the Oregon Trail Memorial Half-Dollar. Since this medal is related to my collection, I bought it.
Naturally, the first thing I did was to research the medal I just bought and found a publication describing it on the Newman Numismatic Portal. Additionally, I found it has a mintage of 5000. My new 1959 gilded so-called dollar is also graded by NGC at MS-67. Besides James Earle Fraser's Society of Medalists 1952 issue #45 and a 1998 ANA convention medal I had not known of any other use of the Oregon Trail Conestoga wagon on other numismatic medals. That was until I found the medal I am writing about and another 2009 medal of the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association for the spring ANA National Money Show in Portland.
Now I will have to collect all the medals I am still missing, the 2009 PNNA medal and the 1998 107th ANA convention medal. To sum it up, so far according to my count there are four medallic variations on the Oregon Trail Memorial Half-Dollar. It would appear that good designs never go away but keep coming back for more.
The links below are to the 1998 ANA convention medal from The Numismatist and the other is an article about my new purchase from the Newman Numismatic Portal. The pictures of the 1998 and 2009 medals are screenshots of the medals I do not own. Gary