E-Sylum readers continue to amaze me with their breadth of numismatic knowledge. Last week I asked about this medal and the "Medal of the Month Foundation". The medal was recently sold on eBay and Dick Hanscom published the image in The Alaskan Token Collector.
Harry Waterson came through in spades for us. His write-up is below. Thanks!
I bought the Hubbard medal. The inscription on the back is:
Viola Gentry was one of the founding members of the Ninety-Nines, the female pilots organization. Viola Gentry was also one of the donors who made the striking of this medal possible. Yvonne Andrews is still a mystery
Bernard Hubbard, SJ was head of the Geology Dept at Santa Clara University but spent most of his time in Alaska or on the Lecture Circuit in the U.S. raising money to go back to Alaska. His lectures illustrated with motion pictures were a huge draw in the lower 48 and greatly increased Alaska awareness in the U.S.
Gold and bronze versions of the medal are in the archives of Santa Clara University, and there is a version of the medal with a capsule biography on the reverse. I have a copy of the cartoon strip that goes with the medal. There are also two plaques in existence with ten-inch galvanos of the obverse and the reverse mounted side by side on wood.
Harry also included a biography of Felicity Buranell, founder of the Medal of the Month Foundation. His interest was originally prompted by Dick Johnson. Here are some excerpts. Thanks!
Felicity was one of eight children of Vincent & Margaret Ann Meyer Buranelli of Temple, Texas.
She lived at 15 W. 67th St., NY, NY, from at least 1937 until her death. She was born Dec.6, 1893 and died Nov.17, 1979. She was the third of eight children. She never married.
The first mention I find of Felicity is as a passenger on the First Airliner on a flight to Washington D.C. on 9/19/19. This First Airliner was designed by her brother Vincent Buranelli and was flying to Washington to seek Government support.
Next, Felicity turns up as an assistant to her “Aunt” Anne Meredith Kitson (1855-1937). Anne was the widow of Samuel J. Kitson, a well-known British sculptor who died in 1906. Anne was also a sculptor and she completed a life-size statue of Christ the King left unfinished by her husband. In 1937 this plaster statue was cast in bronze and shipped to Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S.J. in Alaska. He installed the statue at the top of King Island facing Russia. Anne died just before the bronze was cast and it fell to Felicity to carry out all the arrangements.
Next thing I found was an application for a display holder for coins and medals filed Nov. 5, 1938 and issued as patent #2,258,535 on Oct.7, 1941 to Felicity A Buranelli. This holder is designed to display both sides of a group of coins or medals of the same or varying sizes and “includes the provision of means in the board structure for fittingly engaging disks of transparent material to cover the coin or medal surfaces for their protection against atmospheric action”. Maybe this is the godfather of the slab.
In the 9/28/41 New York Times pSM18.there is a small blurb that tells her medallic story.
For some years Miss Felicity Buranelli has worked on the idea that boys and girls could learn about great men and women in American life and history and at the same time possess fine examples of sculpture by collecting a series of medals.
Her “Medal of the Month Club” has been adopted by schools and other groups. All medals are executed by well-known artists and a committee passes on the original plaques before the medals are struck. Series 1 is devoted to aviation, including a Wright Brothers medal and one of Amelia Earhart. We learn that the Gramercy Boys Club has awarded the medals to winners of its contest in model planes and gliders.
In another NY Times piece dated 10/11/53 pS12, the writer stated:
Miss Felicity Buranelli, founder of the Medal of the Month Club, ….has been distributing medals an inch and a half in diameter that are miniatures of large plaques representing famous persons in flying. The original ten-inch plaques are the works of sculptors like Brenda Putnam and Carl Schmidt. The aviation figures include Frank Hawks, Glenn H. Curtiss, Amelia Earhart, Gen. “Billy” Mitchell and the Wright Brothers.
My research indicates that Miss Buranelli produced 10 medals over about 30 years. She concentrated on major figures of aviation but there was one interesting deviation: Father Bernard R. Hubbard, SJ. Felicity first came into his world in 1937 when he installed the Kitson-Christ figure on King Island in Alaska. She wrote an article about that experience for Guideposts in 1950. At about that time Hubbard came to New York and she invited him to her studio to sit for sculptor Carl Schmitz for a medal to celebrate his Silver Jubilee as a priest.
I think it can safely be said that the Felicity Buranelli Medal of the Month Club had a very slow production schedule. It seems inherent in the name of her Club that a new medal would be produced every month. Certainly there have been other medal programs that were time sensitive. The Society of Medallists did two issues a year for three quarters of a century. The Franklin Mint developed the monthly medal program into a fine art. After researching Miss Buranelli, I think she was more value sensitive than time sensitive and considered her medals to be merit badges of achievement for her youthful market. I don’t think she made any particular effort to actually produce a medal a month.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: MEDAL OF THE MONTH FOUNDATION
Wayne Homren, Editor
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