The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 30, July 26, 2009, Article 23


Richard Jewell and Dick Johnson copied me on some of their recent correspondence regarding the American Watercolor Society Award Medal. Rich furnished images of the medal. I had some technical difficulties with the reverse image, but the obverse is lovely and already elicited a "Wow, nice medal." Comment from a viewer who found it on our image archive on Flickr. -Editor

Writing to Dick, Rich Jewell asked:
American Watercolor Society Award Medal obverse I have an American Watercolor Society Award Medal, gold plated bronze 2-1/2", Maco. I can not read who the engraver is, and there appears to be a date of 1933 just above the exergue line in the lower right corner. The medal itself is very Art Deco-ish. The obverse has a lovely nude female kneeling facing left, holding a paintbrush in her right hand and holding a sunflower in her left hand.

The reverse has a geometric maze design with two sea shells on other side of the design. The legend surrounding the rim reads: "AMERICAN WATERCOLOR SOCIETY AWARD." It is unawarded. If you can assistant me in identifying the engraver I'd be very appreciative and any other information on the society, etc..

Dick Johnson replied:
The artist of the American Watercolor Society Medal was Georg Lober (1892-1961). You have a very nice medal, not only for the attractive nude on the obverse, but this is a very scarce medal. I have record of only one selling in the last 20 years (in one of my old J&J auctions - were you the buyer then?) One was donated to the ANS in 1940.

It was struck by Medallic Art Company, it is their catalog number 33-6. It was struck and issued over the years in gold, silver and bronze. You can Google the American Watercolor Society, I have no other data on the society.

No. This is not a Restrike, not a Replica, not a Reissue. This medal is in an active medal award program. The original striking may be spread out over years or even decades. I will explain.

When I worked at Medallic Art Company in the sixties and seventies we had a caged area, hands off to everyone. We called this "Customers' Property." Medallic Art would work an agreement with the association, institution, university or firm that managed the award program.

Once the dies are made the big expense in striking medals is the setup of the press. (I don't remember the cost at the time, but say it was $500.) An arrangement was made to strike enough medals in advance, say for ten years, the customer would pay for all in full and Medallic Art would retain these medals in Customer Property.

When needed to be awarded we would retrieve one or as many as necessary and do any inscribing, plating, finishing or special mounting required. The bill for that year would be for only the services performed. This, obviously, would not include the $500 press setup cost. The was a substantial cost saving for the client each year, and relieved the firm of constantly setting up the press, say, to strike one or two medals. It worked to the benefit of all.

Thus, in my databank I have made special note for every award medal to indicate the years in which the medal award program was active. This is indicated as: "(date/issued 19xx-19xx)" with the exact years first issued and last issued. I have record of most "first year of issue." Now I often have to rely on auction sales or collectors' records of the "last year of issued." This date is often inscribed on the medal as the date of presentation.

To view The E-Sylum photo archive, see:

To see an unedited scan of the American Watercolor Society Award Medal reverse, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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