Due to their timeless nature, medallions are an excellent medium for preserving events in history. Medallic Art has been privileged with minting countless numbers of historic medals. A few choice medals have been highlighted in the next section, and several more appear in the gallery.
Arthur Henry Rostron Medal
Medallic Art Company 1913
The survivors of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic had not even arrived in New York City before the United States Senate convened an inquiry into the disaster. The chairman of the hearing, Michigan Senator William Alden Smith (1859-1932), had been a champion of improved railroad safety in the United States, and he wanted to hear the survivors’ testimony while it was still fresh in their minds.
The hearings began at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City only a day after the survivors had reached land. Among the first to testify was Captain Arthur Henry Rostron of the R.M.S. Carpathia, which had picked up more than 700 survivors from the icy sea. His testimony before the committee was so complete and so emotionally gripping, it brought tears to the eyes of the Senator and many others in attendance.
Following his formal report on the investigation to the Senate, Senator Smith called for unanimous consent of a resolution to allocate one thousand dollars to award a gold medal to Captain Rostron. The resolution was passed by acclamation.
The medal was designed by American sculptor and medalist John Flanagan (1865-1952) who would later design both sides of the Washington U.S. quarter-dollar coin and more than four dozen items for Medallic Art Company over a forty-year period.
The dies for the Rostron medal were cut by Medallic Art Company, and the gold medal itself was struck by the United States Mint. The bronze sample shown here is from the archive of Medallic Art Company.
Kultur in Belgium Medal by Paul H. Manship
Medallic Art Company 1918
The 1914 invasion of Belgium in the opening days of World War I brought international condemnation upon Germany and set off widespread campaigns of anti-German propaganda throughout Europe and the United States.
Posters, leaflets, postcards, and even medals with graphic images of dying women and children were created to portray German atrocities, including the sinking of the Lusitania and the execution in Belgium of British nurse Edith Cavell. These media were often explicitly designed to enflame the indignation of men in Allied countries, even in the then-neutral United States, and incite them to enlist in the armed forces and fight against Germany.
This 1918 medal designed and commissioned by American sculptor Paul Manship (1885-1966) caricatures Germany as Kaiser Wilhelm on the obverse wearing a necklace of his victims’ skulls and is subtitled as “His Rosary.” On the reverse, the words “Kultur in Belgium” circle the scene as he carries off a maiden and crushes an infant beneath his feet.
The word “Kultur” mockingly refers to the whole of German culture and its political identity that idealized imperialism at that time. This Kultur was often personified as a sword-wielding skeleton in a black cloak.
The American Numismatic Society has a lengthy article by Peter van Alfen about the use medals in political discourse during this volatile period.
This was the third medal designed by Paul Manship for a relatively young Medallic Art Company. His work appears on forty-seven different medallic items produced by the company from 1915 to 1964, including the 1961 John F. Kennedy Inaugural Medal (MACO 1960-009). He was also the sculptor of the famous gilded statue of Prometheus at Rockefeller Center in New York City.