Walter F. Rutkowski, Executive Director and Secretary of the
Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in Pittsburgh shared with me an article from the upcoming March 2012 issue of the
commission's ImPulse publication.
With permission, here are some excerpts and great photos of the Commission's 1912
Titanic memorial, which comprises a gold medal
mounted on a bronze tablet. It was given to the Smithsonian
Institution for display in its Museum of American History.
But alas, it will not be on display in this centennial year of the disaster, and these photos may be the closest
Within two weeks of the sinking of the Titanic in the North Atlantic on
April 15, 1912 - one hundred years ago next month - the president of
the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, Charles L. Taylor, appointed a committee
of three to explore what action the Commission might take to recognize acts of
heroism performed in the rescue of the tragedy's survivors.
Providing recognition for individual heroes was not within the scope
of the eight-year-old Hero Fund, whose awarding requirements limited
consideration to acts of heroism occurring "in the United States of
America, the Dominion of Canada, the Colony of Newfoundland,
or the waters thereof." Four hundred miles off the Great Banks of
Newfoundland could not be considered "the waters thereof."
The special committee reported on their thinking to the Hero Fund's
standing Executive Committee on April 30. From the minutes of that
meeting: "A general discussion followed as to whether any action should
be taken...and many views were expressed on both sides of the question.
Finally, a motion was offered that the Executive Committee, having been
authorized to act for the Commission in this matter, decide to
recognize the acts of heroism performed by members of the ship's
company of the S.S. Titanic. Motion carried." The motion, which
was later adopted by the full Commission, is as follows:
"WHEREAS, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, under the terms
of its foundation, being unable adequately to recognize the sublime
self-sacrifice displayed by passengers, officers, and crew of the
Steamship Titanic, lost off the Banks of Newfoundland, April 15,
1912, nevertheless desires to record its admiration for their acts of
heroism, and to commemorate these great and inspiring examples
of exalted womanhood and manhood; therefore be it
"RESOLVED, that a gold medal be issued by this Commission,
appropriately inscribed to the heroines and heroes of the Steamship
Titanic and deposited in the United States National Museum at
Washington, and that a record thereof be placed on the Roll of Honor
of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, as a lasting memorial of
those whose chivalrous conduct and self-sacrifice have profoundly
moved the civilized world."
The gold medal was inscribed, "In memory of the heroines and heroes
of the Steamship Titanic, lost off the Banks of Newfoundland, April 15,
1912." It was mounted on a bronze plaque that was designed and
made by J.E. Caldwell & Co. of Philadelphia, which a few years earlier
designed the Carnegie Medal and was awarded the contract to produce
it. According to the Hero Fund's records, the cost of the memorial
was $575, including the $275 cost of the gold medal.With gold prices
today ($1,663 as of this writing) about 80 times the price in 1912
($20.67 at year-end), a replacement medal weighing nine troy ounces
would cost $15,000.
The memorial's design was endorsed by Charles D. Walcott of the
Smithsonian Institution's U.S. National Museum, Washington, D.C., in
a visit to the Hero Fund's offices in 1912. He acknowledged receipt of
the memorial in a letter dated Dec. 19: "The medal, with the tablet and
an appropriate label, will be placed on exhibition at once in the Hall of
History of the National Museum where it will constitute a permanent
monument to the self-sacrificing chivalry exhibited by those who
voluntarily yielded up their lives for others."
Dr. Paul F. Johnston, present curator of maritime history for the
National Museum of American History, recently informed that although
the museum has Titanic material on permanent display in its maritime
hall, it is not planning anything special to mark the centennial of the
Titanic's sinking and that the Hero Fund's memorial is not available for
For more information on the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster