A web site visitor wrote in regarding the 1950 American Legion School Award medal discussed in Harry Waterson's 2014 PAN Clarion article. For background, here's the
relevant excerpt from The E-Sylum. -Editor
1950: The American Legion School Award medal was completely revamped. A new design front and back, One uniform size. This design was applicable for award to either boys or girls. Again in
bronze, 2½-inches across from the Medallic Art Company.
The legend, motto, name and award attributes are the same as the male award from 1922 but the central devices are all new. The military motif on the obverse is now WWII with a soldier, sailor and
airman in the foreground with troops in full pack going by behind. At parade rest, on alert and on the march, the medal is all about military preparedness. The reverse has lost the eagle and moved to
a central composition of a radiant lamp of knowledge sitting atop an open book above a crossed olive branch and feather pen. A very well thought out design for this award. The sculptor has not been
identified but he was certainly talented and skillful. The sculptor Paul Fjelde (1892-1984) has been suggested but further research is required.
Web site visitor Edward Stevens writes:
I bought one of these medals at a garage sale and while investigating found your article. I also found a Smithsonian article saying that the sculptor's wife gave one to the Luce collection and
his name was Joseph Renier.
Thanks! Here's an excerpt from the Smithsonian site. But I contacted Harry, and he had subsequently further researched the medal and discovered the Renier connection as well. See
the next article in this issue for more information. -Editor
The American Legion School Award began as a yearly prize given to males graduating from the eighth grade. On the reverse of Joseph Renier’s medal, the lamp of wisdom rests upon an open book. The
five-pointed star below represents the qualities listed around the perimeter of the image. This star also symbolizes the five branches of the military that appear on the obverse: here, a sailor, an
aviator and three soldiers evoke not only the organization sponsoring the award, but also the ideal career of the student who receives it.
Joseph E. Renier
(born Union Hill, NJ 1887 -- died New York City 1966)
Joseph Renier grew up in New Jersey and studied at the Art Students League in New York. He attended art schools in Paris and Brussels, and in 1915 won the Prix de Rome to study at the American
Academy. He served with the American Red Cross in Italy during World War I and in 1921 finally returned to America. He created many architectural sculptures, reliefs, and medals, which included
designs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Civil War Centennial, and the American Heart Association. In 1959, Renier was awarded the gold medal for sculpture from the American Artists Professional
Image Credits: Photographed by J. H. Hare. Image is courtesy of the Adolph A. Weinman papers, 1893-1960 in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
To read the complete article, see:
Sculpture: Medals: American Legion School Award Medal
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
THE AMERICAN LEGION SCHOOL AWARDS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n06a26.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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