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DICK JOHNSON ON GUTTAG BROTHERS MEDALS
Dick Johnson submitted these notes on the Guttag Brothers medals. -Editor
I cannot answer Bob Rightmire's specific question on the Guttag Bros. "token" in aluminum he is researching as mentioned in last week's E-Sylum. However, I may add some details he may find useful in his further search on these fascinating numismatic items issued by the famed New York City coin dealers.
All Guttag items were struck by Medallic Art Company in New York City, and all were created in the twenties by sculptor Jonathan M. Swanson (1888-1963). Not all the varieties have been cataloged and not all have been published. Perhaps Bob may realize he has a lifetime chore in gathering all known specimens. And numismatists would certainly welcome his publication of what he does uncover. They do not come on the market all that often (thus it may require that lifetime chore, Bob).
When I came to cataloging these medals when I was at Medallic Art Company, I threw up my hands. The files were missing and the records were nonexistent. I did have some samples to work with and I realized these were struck in two separate years, 1926 and 1927. I assigned a catalog number for each of these years (26-37 and 27-36). In my notes I find the dreaded "nc" next to each. That indicated "not yet cataloged."
The Guttag Brothers invented Coin Week (still being conducted 81 years later!). So one variety has the notation "National Coin Week." I sold half a dozen of these varieties when I was a medal dealer, and I note Joe Levine has sold a couple of these in his auction sales as well. Another variety can be considered the Guttag Bros. "storecard." This was illustrated in the November 1926 issue of The Numismatist (page 619).
I wouldn't call this a "token" -- it is a medal (as most storecards are medals). I'm a purist. To be a token it has to express some value in a money denomination or merchandise. No value, then it's a medal.
For the earliest version of that Guttag issue I wrote in my notes I found "5 kinds." This could have been die varieties or mules -- I didn't count striking in a different composition as a different "kind." So, Bob, you are going to have tons of fun chasing down all the different metals any of these Guttag items were struck in. And you may find some different die varieties as well.
Last thought: If the Guttag brothers attended the New York Numismatic Club monthly meetings they didn't have far to look for the sculptor for their medals. He may have been sitting next to them. Swanson was very active in the Club and president in 1925 and 1926, remaining active until 1940. He prepared the portraits of 12 club presidents for their presidential medal series (including his own among the most famous names in numismatics!). Can you imagine, he did this from 1909 until 1941, when that commissioned was then passed on to Karl Gruppe for their 1943 medal.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: RESEARCHER SEEKS 1926 GUTTAG BROTHERS TOKEN
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