George Cuhaj submitted this report from his recent visit to the International Symposium of Medals in Kremnica, Slovakia. Thanks!
Every two years selected artists gather in Kremnica, Slovakia for a month of medal making. Currently under the sponsorship of the National Bank of Slovakia, the five artists selected for the 2013 event included:
Hugo Maciel , 24, from Portugal, George Cuhaj, 53, of the USA, Vladimir Durbak, 60, of Slovakia, Miroslav Kovarik, 62, of the Czech Republic, and Laszlo Zagyva, 69, from Hungary.
This brings to 60 the number of artist participating in the program since 1988.
The program is to create obverse and reverse plaster models for a struck medal (to be produced at the Kremnica Mint, the state mint of Slovakia), and plaster designs for five additional sand cast medals. The artists pay for travel and food, the housing and studio is in the Angyel house, the National Bank's house in Kremnica. (The Angyel family of the 1800s were a father-son team of painter and sculptor.) One of each struck and cast medal is retained in the permanent collection of the Kremnica Museum, and the artist receives one of each cast medal, five of the struck medals of their design plus one struck medal of each of the other artists, and a 600 euro stipend (about 825 US dollars).
Kremnica is a town dating back before 1000 AD, and was granted minting privileges in 1328.
It is nestled in two steep sloped valleys forming a T-shape, with the historic center at the top of the "T". Gold, Silver and Copper were mined actively in nearly hills and towns from the 1250s thru 1993.
The Museum staff was most helpful is making us feel welcome, as were the resident artist in the town who stopped in for visits, sharing meals or invitations to their home studios.
There were two arranged tours, one to the National Mine Museum in the town of Banska Stiavnica, and the second to the historic mountain village and the Spes Cathedral of St. Martin, with a view of the Spes Castle in the distance. The historic mountain village was called Vokolinec Ruzomberok and is a UNESCO heritage site.
The first eight days were very busy getting the clay designs finished and made into plaster models ready for delivery to the Mint. The next ten days were a bit more relaxed, in making the plaster models for the cast medals, and with a visit to each of the two sand cast foundries used to realize our project. Then there was about a week of waiting, when visits and tours were arranged, or more projects were worked on.
In this case, Mirek Kovarik brought his personal forge and made some lost wax molds and did a bronze pour in that time. Finally, the works were delivered very near to the day of the opening of the exhibit. The exhibit consisted of one of each medal by each of the participating artists in the 2013 symposium. The display is open during regular museum hours until February 1, after which one medal of each artist remains on display in the permanent display of the symposium, and the remaining medals are retained in the museum collection.
George provided the following images and captions as well. Thanks!
The Kremnica mint was founded in 1328, parts of this building were from the 1600s. The medals pressroom in the photo has belt driven presses dating from 1920 (As Hungary took all the machinery after WWI to update the Budapest Mint). They have a modern coining area built in a recently enclosed former courtyard.
Part of the project was to prepare plaster models for a struck medal, the second part of the project was to design five cast medals. This is one side of the struck medals, minted at the Kremnica Mint.
They had 2013 coin sets for sale. Unc set, at 22 euro, a Proof-like set at 32 euro and a deluxe proof set in a wooden box for 82 euro
There will be an expanded article in a future issue of World Coin News. George will also give a PowerPoint presentation about the symposium at the April meeting of the New York Numismatic Club.
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