The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 24, June 13, 2004, Article 5


  Dick Johnson writes: "The year was 1969. Medallic Art
  Company, then on 45th Street in midtown Manhattan, was
  striking the California Bicentennial Medal.  The call came
  midweek: the governor from California was in town on
  business, he has a free hour tomorrow at midday. "Could
  he come visit your plant to see their Bicentennial Medal
  being struck"?

  "Could he"?  W-e-l-l Y-e-s!  We couldn't wait. My chore
  was to get publicity photographs taken.  But by the end of
  the day, however, I hadn't lined up a photographer yet. My
  usual photographers were all busy.  We were in the center of
  the photographic industry on the East Side of Manhattan,
  amid photo studios and film processing plants, but I couldn't
  find a last-minute photographer until an hour before the
  governor's intended arrival.

  His entourage was not that large, four men as I recall. MAco
  President Bill Louth did the honors in the usual VIP tour, from
  a start in the showroom and oval gallery to his office and the
  firm's collection of fine art statues. We had a small statue of
  a bear. The Governor walked over to that statue and caressed
  it.  The California bear was the symbol on the state's
  Bicentennial Medal.

  Reagan passed the glass wall with all the office girls watching
  his every move.  He smiled and waved at them.  Was this the
  governor,  the movie star, or the man? Either way he charmed
  the ladies.

  In the plant be became fascinated with the die-engraving
  pantograph, standing in the crowded room watching the artist's
  original model being engraved into a die to strike the medals.
  When it was over, he left.

  My photographer handed me the roll of film, I rushed to the
  processing plant the next block over.  Later that day, I got the
  negatives and contact print. A quick order of prints, then I did
  something unusual.  Who in California, I wondered, could use
  these to best advantage?  Jim Miller's Coinage came to mind.
  And Lee Martin was my contact there.  I express mailed that
  contact sheet to Lee. (The events that day happened so fast I
  forgot to eat lunch!)

  Lee used it immediately in an NLG Newsletter.  I had intended
  for him to make a full page of that contact sheet.  Blow it up a
  little to fit a 8  x 11-inch page. Instead he cut up the tiny prints
  and ran those exact size in an issue of NLG News. [My file of
  those newsletters has long since disappeared.  Any E-Sylum
  reader have a copy of that 1969 issue in their files?  Drop me
  an email: dick.johnson at]

  Later, we turned the tables. Medallic Art visited Reagan!
  Reagan was elected president in November 1980 and Medallic
  Art was commissioned to make his official Inaugural Medal.
  Reagan chose the artist, Ed Fraughton from Utah. Fraughton
  wanted to model Reagan live in person at his California ranch.
  We had to move fast. I contacted a PR firm in NYC, Ruder &
  Finn [Dave Finn was very active in the sculpture world].  They
  hired a photographer in California.

  The prints of Fraughton modeling Reagan were so good I later
  included them in  Joe Levine's book on Collecting Inaugural
  Medals. Reagan's memory will live on -- certainly
  numismatically -- not only in that book, but also for a long time
  in his presidential inaugural medals.

  But for me, Ronald Reagan will be remembered by the day he
  visited Medallic Art."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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