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Commems Collection Medals: 1906 Benjamin Franklin 200th

 
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 Posted 09/28/2021  2:28 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Here is a Congressionally-authorized medal marking the 200th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth. It was originally authorized in 1904 as a single gold presentation medal (to be given to the Republic of France on behalf of the US President) along with 150 bronze duplicates that were to be split (100 and 50) between the US Government and the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia, respectively; Franklin founded the APS in 1743. The authorization came as an amendment to the Civil Sundry Expenses bill and appropriated $5,000 for the production.

Tiffany & Co. struck the medals (one gold + 150 bronze); these medals have "TIFFANY & CO." on their edge.

In 1906, Congress passed a follow-up bill authorizing a run of 200 additional bronze medals for the APS. The US Mint struck the new batch of 200. The bill/law was brief:

Be It enacted, etc., That the Secretary of State is authorized and directed to have struck 200 additional medals for the use of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pa., to. commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin: Provided, That the entire cost of striking the medals shall be borne by the aforesaid American Philosophical Society.

The APS continues to award the Benjamin Franklin medal to the present. It appears to have been awarded fairly easily in the beginning - many were awarded for simply giving a lecture at an APS meeting. Madam Curie, however, was awarded the medal in 1921 for far greater achievements. From 1937, the medal was given to recognize significant contributions to the APS, and later (from 1985) for distinguished achievements in science, the humanities and/or service; the medal's award criteria has most definitely changed over the years!

The bronze medal is fairly large at 101 millimeters in diameter. Louis Saint-Gaudens was the lead designer/engraver of the medal, with assistance from his more-famous brother Augustus; a combination of the two artists' initials are seen on the reverse of the medal, to the right of the figures); Louis did much of the work due to the failing health of Augustus.

The obverse is dominated by a left-facing portrait of Franklin, based on Houdon bust. His birth and death years are seen behind him, with the many "hats" worn by Franklin during his lifetime listed below the portrait: "PRINTER - PHILOSOPHER - SCIENTIST - STATESMAN - DIPLOMATIST" (an obsolete term for "DIPLOMAT").

The reverse is an allegorical scene with "LITERATURE" "SCIENCE" and "PHILOSOPHY" all gathered before a seated and elevated "HISTORY" to learn and share. Commemorative inscriptions are seen below the figures.

You can learn more about how the medal is awarded and some of its recipients over the years here:
American Philosophical Society - Franklin Medal

Here's the US Mint variety medal I have in my collection - it's definitely a favorite of mine!

1906 Benjamin Franklin 200th Anniversary of his Birth - US Mint Version





Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 09/28/2021  2:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The reverse engraving is really something. Thanks!
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 Posted 09/28/2021  3:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I can see why that medal is a favorite of yours! Beautifully executed.
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 Posted 09/28/2021  5:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow - that is indeed an impressive medal and your story of its origins adds tremendous value to my understanding.

Many thanks commems!
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 Posted 09/29/2021  4:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@All: Thanks for the positive comments - always appreciated!

This is quite a scarce medal. I won it an auction after spirited floor bidding.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 09/29/2021  5:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add NumisEd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The reverse is absolutely marvelous.
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