The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 6, February 5, 2012, Article 18


David Gladfelter submitted these notes on the Pinches medal illustrated last week. Thanks! -Editor

John Pinches medal

This is a beautiful art nouveau advertising medal which I have not seen before. It is not listed in the very thorough 271-page catalog of medals by the Pinches firm published by John Harvey Pinches in 1987. It must be quite rare and probably dates from circa 1900. It might be possible to determine a more exact date by researching the address given on the medal. If actually engraved by John Pinches, it would predate his death on 22 April 1905, but I see no signature on it.

John Pinches medal reverse By the way, notice that the letters on the reverse are individually engraved (or individually modeled in plaster, then made into a galvano from which a die is traced with the Janvier). They are not made from punches. Also notice that the letter L was originally made in standard form, then embellished with a decorative base.

Surprisingly, there is very little information about John Pinches in Leonard Forrer's 8-volume Biographical Dictionary of Medallists. Pinches (1825-1905) was the founder of the firm of medalists known as John Pinches, Ltd. John studied under William Joseph Taylor from 1846 to 1851, then worked occasionally for Leonard C. Wyon, and also for the Birmingham Mint. It would seem from these facts that the Pinches firm would not have been established until 1851 at the earliest, but John Harvey Pinches's catalog covers "works struck by the company from 1840 to 1969". In 1969 the John Pinches firm was acquired by the Franklin Mint.

The firm originally consisted of John Pinches and his brothers Francis, Theophilus, Thomas and William. John's son John Harvey Pinches (1852-1941) was head of the firm in 1909 when the volume of BDM listing him was published. John Harvey Pinches was succeeded in turn by his elder son, John Robert Pinches (1884-1968) who maintained the firm's artistic direction almost until his death. The author of the catalog, another John Harvey Pinches, son of John Robert, thereafter conducted the business with his cousin Leslie Pinches, whose father Ernest Pinches looked after engineering aspects of the firm. Ernest was the grandson of Theophilus. Quite a family, I must say.

Author John Harvey Pinches writes: "With no prospect of a family succession, in 1969, an offer for the business from the Franklin Mint, Inc., of Philadelphia, U.S.A., was accepted. Their [i.e. Franklin Mint's] enormous success with issues of series of commemorative medals led to their expansion internationally. This success unfortunately led them to undervalue the old traditional business, which was dispersed."

J. H. Pinches goes on to say that when the Franklin Mint decided to discontinue the traditional business - the making of medals for companies, associations and societies as opposed to the production and marketing of medallic products to collectors - FM "disposed of the invoices and works records from about 1930." Other earlier records were lost in a Thames River flood before World War II. J. H. Pinches sought information from old clients whose addresses could be found, thereby restoring some of the lost information.

In the March 1970 issue of the Franklin Mint Almanac, the Pennsylvania firm's monthly publication, its acquisition of the Pinches firm along with the Wellings Mint of Toronto were described as major steps in FM's international expansion program by Harold Flynn, FM's VP for international marketing. Flynn was quotes as saying that these acquisitions would "extend the international recognition and acceptance of coins, medals and other works of art created by the Franklin Mint and its worldwide affiliates." Flynn described the Pinches firm as having "a 241-year-old tradition of outstanding medallic craftsmanship." Perhaps along the way, John Pinches, Ltd., itself had made acquisitions of firms going back that far.

This may be more than you wanted to know -

A bibliophile can never get enough information. Thanks! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: JANUARY 29, 2012 (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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