Dick Johnson forwarded these interesting notes on the topic
of artist signatures. -Editor We have been reading about hidden
signatures in The E-Sylum for the last couple weeks. I would like to
comment about the opposite -- enhanced signatures. About the only area an
artist often has any latitude in the design of a medal is his own
Saint-Gaudens never used the same monogram twice in his
medallic work. Not so with his large sculpture. But for his medals he
would vary his ASG, sometimes including a T, sometimes not. It seems the
more prominent an artist, the more they varied their signature. Several of
The Society of Medalists medalists took the opportunity to enhance their
monogram, probably because they had free reign not only in the design, but
also in how they affixed their authorship.
In a study of over 500
monograms of 273 American medallists, here are some of the charming ways I
found that these artists signed their works:
And that is
- . In 1915 John Flanagan of 1932 quarter fame placed his JF
inside the last O of the Latin legend on the obverse of the
Panama-Pacific International Exposition Medal of 1915. It was copied
without authority but the replicators omitted the monogram, so the
existence of the JF is a diagnostic of authenticity.
- . In 1957 Anthony de Francisci of Peace dollar fame added a
boaster -- a sculptor's tool -- under his monogram on the United Parcel
Service 50th Anniversary Medal. A bonus for UPS!
- . In 1949 famed artist David Smith placed a delta-S on a rock
on the reverse of the Art News Amateur Painters Medal as his signature.
Was the delta significant? Did it have a hidden meaning?
- . In 1933 Carl Paul Jennewein added a tiny outline of a self
portrait next to his monogram above the date on the reverse of his
Society of Medalists Issue Number 7.
- . In 1937 Robert I. Aitken on his Society of Medalists Issue
number 15, which was concordant -- the reverse was the back of the
obverse device, a pair of lovers locked in an embrace, as if it was
in-the-round -- spelled out his last name in mirror image on the
reverse. It amplified the evidence of the concordant theme.
- . In 1974 Spero Anaygros -- and I have mentioned this before
in E-Sylum -- put a cattle brand on the haunch of a horse on the obverse
of the Salinas California Centennial Medal, as an "S over A" brand. Now
that is charming!
- . In 1975 Marcel Jovine -- and this is my favorite -- on his
United States / Russian Apollo Soyuz Medal put the legend in English on
one side and in Russian on the other. His name appeared in English on
one side and in Cyrillic letters on the other!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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