MCA-MHS Conference on Medals

November 10, 2018 - Boston, MA

Art and Memory: The Role of Medals

The Medal Collectors of America and the Massachusetts Historical Society have teamed up to organize an unprecedented conference on medals and medal collecting this fall in Boston. Please join us for a grand celebration, social event, and conference, Art and Memory: The Role of Medals, in Boston on Saturday, November 10. This first ever MCA-MHS conference will provide a venue for scholarly presentations and discussion around a range of topics related to collecting and enjoying medals, with plenty of time around the edges for social enjoyment.


A selection of MHS medals will be on exhibition upstairs for the entire day

8:00 am - Arrival/Registration/Coffee; time to view the MHS medal exhibit

8:30 am - Anne Bentley, MHS Curator of Art & Artifacts, will speak on the Society’s extensive medal collection and its fascinating history

9:00 am - John Sallay, past-president MCA, will reprise his ANA convention presentation, "Their Secrets Revealed! Early American College Secret Society Medals"

9:45 am - Alan Stahl, Curator of Numismatics at Princeton and previously curator for many years at the ANS, will speak on "Medallic America: Allegorical Representations of America on European and American Medals"

10:30 am - Break

11:00 am - Panel Discussion: "The Art of the Medal" (the past, present, and future of traditional and contemporary art medals)

Ira Rezak (moderator), collector, researcher, and MCA board member

Cory Gilliland, formerly the Curator of Numismatics at the National Museum of American History

Robert Hoge, formerly the curator of the ANA Money Museum for years, then Curator of North American Coins and Currency at the ANS, and now a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

Scott Miller, well-known collector, author, and former MCA board member

12:00 noon - Lunch

1:00 pm - Patrick McMahon, Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will speak on "The Early Work of Victor David Brenner", sculptor of the Lincoln Cent and many medals

1:45 pm - Jonathan Brecher, co-author of the updated "So-Called Dollars: An Illustrated Standard Catalogue" will speak on "So-Called Dollars as a Reflection of Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century American Culture"

2:30 pm - Break

2:50 pm - Catherine Allgor, President of the MHS, will give a welcome to the Massachusetts Historical Society

3:00 pm - Len Augsburger, Coordinator of the Newman Numismatic Portal, will speak on "The History of Medal Books"

3:45 pm - Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the ANS, will speak on "Medallic Art Company Archives at the American Numismatic Society"

4:15 pm - Panel Discussion: "Why Collect Medals?" (focusing on the interests that medal collectors have in common)

John Adams (moderator), collector of early American coins, medals, and numismatic literature; researcher, author and past-president of the MCA

Q. David Bowers, co-founder of Stack's Bowers Galleries; well-known numismatic researcher and author of dozens of books and articles on coins, tokens, and medals

Rob Rodriguez, researcher and collector of early American coins and medals

John Sallay, past-president of the MCA, collector of school award medals

Stephen Scher, scholar and collector of Renaissance medals; last year, The Frick Collection announced a major gift from the Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher Collection, considered the world's greatest private collection of portrait medals

5:15 pm - Wrap up

5:30 pm - Social/cocktails/reception at MHS

7:00 pm - Dinner at the Colonnade Hotel

Co-Sponsored with the Massachusetts Historical Society

The theme was chosen to have broad appeal, with social events added so that we have some fun, encourage discussion among medal collectors, and can engage with others who are not yet collecting. It will be held at the Massachusetts Historical Society, which is headquartered in a beautiful Beaux Arts building in Boston's historic Back Bay. MHS members will be invited to attend as well, offering us an opportunity to broaden our network of friends with a passion for history and art.

Anne Bentley, MHS Curator of Art & Artifacts, will arrange a special exhibit of medals from their fabulous collection and then talk about the collection, which includes the unique Comitia Americana set of silver medals presented by Thomas Jefferson on behalf of Congress to George Washington in 1790, the unique gold Manly medal, a silver Columbia and Washington medal, and many more rare and extraordinary pieces.

Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is the nation's first historical society and an invaluable resource for American history, life, and culture. In addition to its incomparable numismatic holdings, the MHS collections are particularly well-known for extensive holdings of personal papers from three presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The collections contain many famous documents including Paul Revere's own account of his famous ride and Abigail Adams's famous "Remember the Ladies" letter to John Adams, where she advocates for the rights of women to be included in the founding of the United States, among many other treasures.


Registration for this conference is now open at Early registration is highly recommend as space is limited and pre-registration will be required. A cocktail reception at the MHS will conclude the conference in the late afternoon, followed by an optional dinner at Brasserie JO, a celebrated French bistro just a 10-minute walk from the MHS. There is a $75 per person conference fee, including lunch and the cocktail reception, with dinner afterward optional at an additional $95 per person.

A list of nearby hotels is available by request. The Colonnade Hotel has offered a special rate of $299 (plus tax) for conference attendees who make reservations before Tuesday, October 9, 2018. A link for this group rate is available via the registration page on the MHS website.