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Where is the Line Between Medal and Sculpture?

I recently admired some large art medals, some of it being free-standing. Where do you draw the line between what is an art medal and what is sculpture?

Medallic art has been called “art you can hold in your hand.” Where you draw the line between when a piece of art is simply a free-standing medal and where it becomes sculpture has been argued for years. No one has a definitive answer.

Why is the ca. 1798 Theatre at New York token considered to be a post-Colonial issue in U.S. coin catalogs?

There is no evidence the theater tokens were ever used as money, barter or the host planchet for coins. In fact, it appears these were sold in London by their manufacturer, Skidmore and Son, a maker of stove grates looking to find other products to market. Peter Skidmore was hoping to get a lucrative contract in New York, likely knowing a Birmingham company had done so for production of the Talbot, Allum and Lee cents.

Why was it that Talbot, Allum and Lee cents were successfully marketed, yet Skidmore was unsuccessful in selling his tokens?

New York was using penny denominated scrip due to a copper panic in 1790. Skidmore was one of several token producers looking to sell their product to New York. Since the United States government had already taken over issuing half cents and cents, Skidmore’s effort was futile.

The founding fathers also founded the U.S. Mint. Were any of them coin collectors?

We know George Washington and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton had an interest in coins, but anything they may have collected was overshadowed by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson collected everything from ancient to modern European coins.

What was the public‘s initial reaction to commemorative coins? Did commemoratives get more people interested in collecting?

The initial commemorative coins beginning in 1892 were greeted by most collectors and non-collectors as a non-event. It wasn’t until the early 1920s that commemoratives began to gain favor, and even then only slowly. In a March 1923 article in The Numismatist, coin dealer Thomas L. Elder said, “American collectors are, I think, fast awakening to the fact that souvenir gold dollars and half dollars which have been offered to them during the last few years by the hundreds of thousand, at from 100 to 200 percent premium, are a modernized and systematized sort of a numismatic swindle.”

What triggered a more favorable view of collecting commemoratives, considering Elder’s harsh comments?

Interest increased as did prices in 1924 when promoters of the 1924 Huguenot-Walloon half dollar were able to gain the endorsement of American Numismatic Association President Moritz M. Wormser. Wormser was considered to be a prominent numismatist at that time, so his endorsement mattered.

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