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Circle of Friends
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Medallion

 

Circle of Friends of the Medallion

Both text and pictures are Copyright © 1977, 2004
By D. Wayne Johnson

The early history of the Circle of Friends of the Medallion, America’s first private collector medal series, are intertwined among two sets of brothers and two other men, all of New York City. Most important, perhaps, were the Weil brothers, Henri and Felix, who made the first medals and who later were to operate the Medallic Art Company. Henri had worked for the other set of brothers, Edward and Charles Deitsch, who operated a medallic company for a brief time.

The other two men were Robert Hewitt Jr. and Charles de Kay. Hewitt was a medal collector, forming an extensive collection of Lincoln medals (which he later donated to the U.S. National Collection at the Smithsonian). De Kay was an author, newspaper columnist, gadabout, and today would be called a “jetsetter.”

Both men had traveled extensively and had purchased medals in Europe. At this time there were two series of medals currently being issued, one in Paris (Société des Amis de la Médaille Française), another in Belgium (Société Hollandaise-Belge des Amis de la Médaille d’Art). Who got the idea to commence a similar series of medals in America, we do not know.

But Hewitt and de Kay approached the Deitsch brothers to produce the medals. Hewitt, who had made his fortune in New York City real estate, probably underwrote the venture. De Kay would promote the series, both in his writings and among his vast circle of friends, including the well-to-do and art patrons.

The Deitsches were involved only for a brief time. They wanted out after the first two medals were issued. They sold the medal-making equipment to the Weils (and ultimately the Medallic Art Company name), but surreptitiously sold the rights to the Circle of Friends to their competitors in Philadelphia, Joseph K. Davison’s Sons. After four years and nine medals Davison’s dropped out.

The Weils produced the last medal – number 12 – but the series lacked the momentum to carry on after that. However, the series did serve a greater purpose, perhaps, as the forerunner for The Society of Medalists, which began at Medallic Art Company a generation later, in 1930.

The Medals were issued in diecut pages bound in tan cloth books making the set a bookshelf collection. From published membership lists it can be surmised that no more than 500 of any of medals were issued. Allan Newman’s number twelve is the scarcest. Victor Brenner’s number four, Motherhood, is the most popular. Paul Manship’s number eleven is the most expensive (sought after by art galleries). Members of the Bahai religion seek issue number seven, of Abdul Baha, since their religion did not sanction portraits.

Edgelettering varies. The first two issues bear a diamond-D mintmark of the Deitsch brothers (later reissues bear a Medallic Art Company name). Davison’s usually spelled out their last name in full. Issue number twelve is, of course, signed Medallic Art Company.

Printers and binders varied as well over the seven-year term. Their names are found in the colophon at the end of each volume. Two such varying names exist on issues four and nine.

All twelve Circle of Friends of the Medallion in their binders

All twelve Circle of Friends of the Medallion in their binders

 

Collector's Guide

 

  No. Date
Issued
Sculptor Theme Size Mfgr.

 

PIC 1 1909 (Sept) John Flanagan Hudson-Fulton Celebration 70mm M

 

PIC 2 1910 (May) Isidore Konti Wanderer returns home 70mm M

 

PIC 3 1911 (Mar) John Mowbray-Clark Saint Brendan, hero of
 Irish navigation
70mm D

 

PIC 4 1911 (May) Victor David Brenner Motherhood, a universal
 theme
70mm D

 

PIC 5 1911 (Nov) Jules Édouard Roiné Marquis de Lafayette,
 French statesman
77x47mm D

 

PIC 6 1912 (June) John S. Conway Charles Dickens,
 English novelist
70mm D

 

PIC 7 1912 (Nov) Louis Potter Abdul Baha, Persian
 reformer
76x51mm D

 

PIC 8 1913 (June) Siguro Neandross The Ocean 70mm D

 

PIC 9 1913 (Dec) René Theophile
 De Quélin
John Fremont,
 American explorer
57x76mm D

 

PIC 10 1914 (June) John Mowbray-Clark Centennial U.S. -
 British Peace
70mm D

 

PIC 11 1914 (Dec) Paul Manship New Netherlands
 250th Anniversary
70mm D

 

PIC 12 1915 (June) Allan G. Newman Joan of Arc,
 French heroine
70mm M

M = Medallic Art Company, New York City
D = Joseph K. Davison & Son, Philadelphia


Printable PDF formated version of the
MCA Circle of Friends of the Medallion
Collector's Guide

(28 Kbytes)




References

{1963}   

Chamberlain (Georgia Stamm) American Medals and Medalists. Annandale, VA: Privately printed (1963) 146 pages, 55 plates.

 :        

Includes her article on Circle of Friends of the Medallion, pages 127-131, plates 51–54. This was originally published in Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine 28:2 (February 1962) p 303-307; and 28:3 (March1962) p 667-668.
 

{1976}

Johnson (D. Wayne) Premature Circle of Precocious Friends. Coins Magazine 23:11 (November 1976) p 62-69, illustrated.

 :        

[I did not choose this pretentious title – it was changed by the magazine’s editor–DWJ.]
 

{1977}

Johnson & Jensen Specialized Report Number 1: Circle of Friends and Other Medals Bound in Books. Sales leaflet, September 1977, 4 pages, illustrated.

 :        

Set of CoF books illustrated, as well as individual medals and the two men who founded the series, Charles De Kay and Robert Hewitt Jr. Chart with estimated number of medals issued and other data also given. Sales prices of each of the issues, both in books and as separate medals (prices, obviously, current only for 1977).

An article on the website of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) by Ed Reiter entitled “A Milestone For The ‘Circle of Friends’ [of the Medallion]” and posted May 24, 1999 was largely based on this Specialized Report.
 

{1987}

Baxter (Barbara A.) The Beaux-arts Medal in America. New York: American Numismatic Society. For Exhibition Sept 26, 1987 to April 16, 1988. 92 pages, illustrated. [112 artists listed, 368 medallic items].

 :        

Six of the 12 Circle of Friends of the Medallion are included in this work (#1 John Flanagan, #2 Isidore Konti, #3 John Mowbray-Clarke, #4 Victor D. Brenner, #5 Jules E. Roiné, #11 Paul Manship).
 

{1988}

Stahl (Alan M., editor) The Medal in America. New York: American Numismatic Society. Coinage of the Americas Conference. Sept 24-27, 1987. Volume 1, 247 p. Contains: Noble (Joseph Veach) “The Society of Medalists,” p 223-247.

 :        

Includes tables of medals issued by the Circle of Friends of the Medallion, 1909-1915, and The Society of Medals, 1930-1987 [both furnished by D. Wayne Johnson].
 

{1991}

Carlson (Carl W. A.) and Hodder (Michael, editors) The American Numismatic Association Centennial Anthology. Wolfeboro, NH: for the ANA. (1991) 372 pages, illustrated.

 :        

Contains: Alexander (David T.) The Circle of Friends of the Medallion; An Appreciation in American Medallic History, p 143-166.
 

{1999}

Stahl (Alan M., editor) The Medal in America. New York: American Numismatic Society. [Thirteenth] Coinage of the Americas Conference. November 8-9, 1997. Volume 2 (1999) 294 pages, illustrated.

 :        

Contains: Luftschein (Susan) Charles De Kay and the Circle of Friends of the Medallion; Aesthetic Taste in America, p 235-262.
 

{         }

Scarinci (Donald) Unpublished manuscript. An extensive study of the Circle of Friends and The Society of Medalists will be published shortly, creating the standard work of these two leading American medal series. Watch for publication.


ã Copyright Medal Collectors of America   -  2004-2007