The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 14, April 6, 2008, Article 7


[Today Dick Johnson forwarded the following report on what
sounds like a fun day of numismatic work.  Congratulations to
Dick and his team for tackling this rare opportunity. -Editor]

Numismatists are often called upon for unusual tasks. Yesterday
(Saturday, April 5, 2008) I began cataloging the studio collection
of famed sculptor-medallist Marcel Jovine. This included, for
the numismatic items, hundreds of his plaster models of medallic
work he created for a number of manufacturers.

I gathered together a team, conscripted from my local coin
club, an assistant (club president Mark Satori) and a
professional photographer (Tom Hines). This took serious
planning in preparation and scheduling. We had to meet with
one of the artist's daughters, who had to travel from Washington
DC to the family homestead in Closter, New Jersey, where the
collection was housed. And the caretaker of the family home
had to be present.

The scheduling had to clear with the five people involved,
and some spouses. Prior to this we insisted upon new racks
to be built for proper storage of plaster models. These had
to be erected before we arrived.  Also in this time frame
photographer Hines had to build a portable light box, as I
insisted every object must be photographed on a full
light-white background. This drops out every background on
a print image to the shape of the object. No silhouetting
necessary after the fact on either digital image or film print.

The two and one-half hour drive brought us to the Jovine
homestead, as we passed by the Belskie Museum of Art and
Science in Closter where I am curator of medals ("no time
to stop, fellows, we have a lot of work to do").

Unloading and setting up equipment in the basement where
all models are stored took half an hour. Then a quick
review of the game plan: I wanted every image photographed
no matter what media: plaster, clay (if any), metal, rubber
mold, and every size (up to the 24-inch maximum of our
light box).

Also I wanted a scientifically accurate measurement in
centimeters of the image. Not edge to edge of the plaster,
say, but the image's edge to edge (since every model had a
flange for handling in numerous steps of manufacturing).
If the model is square or rectangular, image height comes
first -- height by width.  I had prepared work pages with
20 numbers on a page where this measurement was to be
written next to a number.

I appended separate stickers to match those 20 numbers.
These were to be near the model when photographed and
placed adjacent to that plaster when stored in the new rack.

Accuracy counts, guys. This isn't pit stop team precision,
but care in handling. Plaster breaks. Every one of these
plasters is vulnerable. Use utmost care. Mark brings model
from old rack to work table. Measures image(s) and records.
Passes model to Tom with sticker. Tom places model in
camera range and sticker in position. Focus and shoot.
Mark takes model to new rack and positions sticker.

By lunch time my crackerjack team had photographed 80+
models. During the course we found the inevitable -- broken
plasters, two in fact. One was the Society of Medalists
Creation Medal #122. The Jovine daughter brought this to
me in five pieces. "Can we glue this back?" she asked.

"Not necessary," I said. "If we can find the original
mold for this, we can make another plaster cast quicker
than repairing this one.  Her apprehension was dissipated.
The other broken plaster -- both of these were broken before
we got there (thank goodness) -- was Marcel's first medal,
The 1962 Closter Tercentenary Medal. Same reply applies.

By 6 pm quitting time my team had processed a remarkable
234 models! They faced two more racks of models yet to do,
perhaps a total of 600 medallic models. They pleaded with
Jovine daughter: could they come back next weekend to
finish the job? Amazingly everyone's schedule was free,
even if it required both days next weekend!

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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