Dick Johnson forwarded these notes on the Football medal by Victor David Brenner discussed in an earlier E-Sylum issue.
The Victor D. Brenner Football Medal which Jonathan Brecher inquired about is well known to Brenner medal collectors. Brenner medals have been cataloged six times and this Football Medal is number 1 in both the Grolier Exhibit Catalog and in the Hahlo Catalog.
These two catalogs plus the 1911 ANS catalog, International Exhibition of Contemporary Medals, covered only a small portion of Brenner's entire medallic production. Even Glen Smedley, with the resources of the American Numismatic Association, where he worked while he complied his Brenner list included only 120 items. It was published in The Numismatist with one later supplement.
My research on Brenner's medallic work now stands at 303 different items and seems to grow yearly with newly attributed items.
The Football Medal is one of two varieties. Jonathan's specimen is the most common. This variety was donated to the American Numismatic Society in 1894, the year he engraved it. The second variety was donated to ANS in 1897. It can be identified by its acquisition number 1897.147.153.
The year 1894 was important as the year Brenner found full-time employment with the engraving firm of Robert Stoll, in New York City. Stoll tended to specialize somewhat in sports medals; the Amateur Athletic Union was one of its major clients. It a two year period he engraved 18 undated medals that I am aware, and an equal number of dated medals for this firm.
This earned for him enough revenue bring the remainder of his family, parents and siblings, by ship passage to New York. And within another two years additional revenue for Brenner to travel to Paris to study under Louis Oscar Roty, who had, perhaps, the greatest influence on Brenner's career. It transformed him form a hand engraver, carving his dies exact size, to model the designs oversize and have his models reduced by pantographic reduction.
Jonathan is correct in that there is no name on his football medal, indicating it was not prepared for a specific client. Brenner could have done it on speculation -- that it could have been used by some future client -- or it could have been prepared to prove his skill and craftsmanship to the Robert Stoll management. Or, he could have done it just for the fun of it -- he was enamored by the distinctively American sport.
Stoll continue to issue AAU medals long after Brenner left the Stoll firm to study in France, ultimately to replace a die by his hand with that of another engraver. However, experienced medal collectors have a diagnostic to identify a Brenner die, whether it is signed or not. He did the bare foot on the female figure on the AAU medal in a distinctive way. Art critics call this a "mannerism." I call it a "Brenner foot." No other American medallist modeled or engraved a foot like Brenner did.
Dave Hirt adds:
After reading about the Brenner football medal, I pulled my catalog of the Stoff collection. He had an extensive collection of Brenner medals, 60 plus lots, some with multiple pieces. The football medal was the first lot listed, with the date given as 1894. The championship teams that year were Yale 16-0, and Pennsylvania 12-0.
The other sports medals listed in the sale were Lake George Regatta Association Award Medal 1902,The Amateur Athletic Union of the United States Gold Award Medal 1903 Indiana AAU Championship medal of 1920,and Metropolitan Association of the AAU Championship Medal 1928. I had not looked at that catalog for a long time, and had forgotten about that fine medal collection.
Regarding acquisition number 1897.147.153, Jonathan Brecher notes:
I can't find that acquisition number in their online catalog. I did find a similar number with two digits swapped: http://numismatics.org/collection/1987.147.153. That object sounds like it's not a medal itself, but rather a steel punch with his monogram as used on this medal?
They also have a neat plaque version pictured at http://numismatics.org/collection/1987.147.9. And I guess they have the hub used to make the plaque at http://numismatics.org/collection/1987.147.152
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: VICTOR DAVID BRENNER FOOTBALL MEDAL INFORMATION SOUGHT
Wayne Homren, Editor
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