This week Dick Johnson completes his saga of the creation of his new business and a new medal. Congratulations - the medal is a beauty! -Editor
For two weeks I have related the saga of getting a new medal published. Setting up a new business and solving all the problems of issuing a new medal. There were peaks and valleys, satisfactions and frustrations. Meeting and joining forces with a savvy and intelligent partner. Working with an extremely talented artist / medallist. Seeing one's ideas come to fruition. Holding in one's hand that first-strike prototype. Those were the pleasures.
But there also were setbacks and frustrations. The worst were the interminable delays. Had we known these would occur, would we ever launch such a project? The thought kept entering our minds. I kept telling my partner, Mark Schlepphorst, "If it was easy, hundreds of other people would be doing it." But we took on the challenge. We pushed onward.
Mark and I had our plan set by November 2008. We wanted to issue a Lincoln / Brenner medal for 2009, obviously for the bicentennial of Abe Lincoln's birth -- and not overlooking the impressive centennial of the first issue of the Lincoln cent.
As mentioned in The E-Sylum last week working with medallist Don Everhart was a dream, a distinct pleasure. He is a real professional. He met every deadline we set. For concept, for initial drawing, for our nit-picking changes, for the final drawing, and for the finished clay model. He sent the plaster model to Bob Hoff at Medallic Art Company, all on schedule.
Dies were finished in December 2008. We were on schedule.
We were shooting for a medal in hand by Lincoln's February 12th birthday, the actual 200th anniversary, when we could release a photograph. But it was not to be. In our initial conversations with Bob Hoff, I estimated the plaquette we were seeking would require six blows on the press. Bob estimated nine blows. We were both wrong. It required 12 blows. "Don't skimp on quality," we told Bob, as we insisted we wanted the very best he could produce. We wanted them fully struck up with all the detail Don had initially put into his model. Bob's pressmen outdid themselves creating sharp images on every medal in our initial order.
That event cost us two month's time, however. We sailed past Lincoln's anniversary. Then came the decision about the patina. We had in mind a dark brown patina. We even sent Bob Hoff a sample medal with an unusual brown patina on a medal from the Great Religion medal series. Could he match this? Here again, we wanted the very best patina that could be placed on our medal.
We learned we wanted something that was not easy to do. Bob Hoff tried but could not satisfy us. Then we asked him to ship us the medals unfinished and we would have the patina craftsmen here in Connecticut (at Greco Industries) create the patina.
Bob was reluctant. He said with Medallic Art's name was on the medal as the producer, the patina should be done by Medallic Art. After several attempts to match the patina we had in mind, there was a negotiated change of mind, and the medal were shipped to Greco Industries for patination
The plaquettes arrived at Greco's Bethel plant in July. We did not know it at the time, but undoubtedly events we were unaware of may have caused the change of mind. Bob was negotiating with Ross Hansen to sell him Medallic Art Company. The announcement of the purchase was made July 17th
To their great credit, the patina craftsmen at Greco, the sons of patriarch Hugo Greco, the patina genius who had been the foreman at Medallic Art Co's finishing department decades before when MACO was in New York City, outdid themselves. They came up with an entirely new, most attractive, highly significant patina especially for this medal. They created a dark brown patina we were seeking. It required several applications but we got something that had never been done before, a brown with a tinge of red. We named it a "double brown-red chocolate patina."
But wait! We still couldn't release the medals. We couldn't run the advertisement I had written months before. The U.S. Mint's legal gurus were concerned about Don Everhart, and the fact he was a U.S. Mint engraver / sculptor, being associated with a Brenner Lincoln medal and the connection with the Lincoln Cent. Without that we were lost. Another month's time lost.
Don had gotten clearance from his superiors at the Mint before starting our project. He assured them that he would do this on his own time, which he did. Now the US Mint lawyers were putting the issue of our medal on hold. We saw tens of thousands of dollars lost.
My partner remarked how it would be ironic if this played out as a repeat of the 1909 Lincoln Cent and the controversy and subsequent removal of Brenner's initials – VDB – from the reverse die. It was a matter of giving credit to a deserving artist.
Ultimately, my partner, in his best negotiating ever, finally got the Mint's and Treasury's lawyers to agree we could release our medal provided we use the disclaimer we were not affiliated with the U.S. Mint.
Finally we can release our medal. Press releases went out, followed by our ads. Hey, it is still 2009! Go to our web site and order our plaquette for the sheer enjoyment of an outstanding medallic honor to Lincoln and Brenner. Click on
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
DICK JOHNSON: NEW MEDAL, NEW BUSINESS, PART TWO
Wayne Homren, Editor
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