Thanks to Coin World for a June 3, 2016 article by Paul Gilkes alerting us to the Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor being sold on
June 15, 2016 by RR Auction. I'd never seen or heard of this medal before. Here's the basic lot description. -Editor
Photoplay’s 1926 Best Picture Award for Beau Geste
Extremely rare bronze Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor, just under 3″ in diameter, engraved on the reverse: “Presented to
Paramount-Famous-Lasky Corp. by Photoplay Magazine for the Production Beau Geste, the Best Photoplay of the Year 1926.” The front of the
medal features the traditional symbolic dramatic masks raised in high relief. In very good condition, with overall tarnishing, a few light
dings and scratches, and the initials “JE” etched to the left of the presentation engraving.
Beginning in 1920, Photoplay gave out what is considered the first significant annual movie award, the Photoplay Medal of Honor. The
award was voted on by readers of the magazine and the producer of the winning film was presented with a gold medallion struck by Tiffany,
which was generally kept by the studio; bronze copies such as this were created in very limited amounts as individual keepsakes for some of
the film’s important participants. Though Photoplay only gave the single award for best film, its intentions and standards were influential
on the Academy Awards founded later in the decade.
To read the lot description, see:
#8176 - Beau Geste Photoplay 1926 Best Picture Bronze
Earlier this year Slate magazine published a piece on the Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
Several years before the first Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929, Photoplay magazine, one of the earliest and most successful
movie fan publications, began awarding what are considered to be the first major prizes for moving pictures, the Photoplay Medal of Honor, and these
were decided on by the devoted, paying public.
From the contest’s inception in May 1921, the Photoplay Medal of Honor oozed lofty ambition: “PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE has determined to
permanently establish an award of merit,” said one of the magazine’s earliest full-page announcements, “a figurative winning post
comparable to the dignified and greatly coveted prizes of war and art.” The Medal of Honor would be crafted of solid gold by the
illustrious Tiffany and Co., and presented only to the producer (not, to be clear, the director or the distributor) “whose vision, faith,
and organization made the Best Photoplay a possibility.” At the bottom of the page, loyal readers were provided with a handy short list of
suggested Best Pictures of 1920—which included such frothy titles as Suds and Remodeling a Husband—and a ballot with which to cast their
vote. And thus was born the precursor to the Academy Awards, a distinction that, “like Abraham Lincoln’s ideal government,” was “by, of,
and for the people.”
Such florid language was par for the course in the magazine, which was first published in 1911 and in its earliest days focused on story
adaptations of popular movies. Starting in 1915, James R. Quirk became the editor and oversaw the magazine in its most influential period
through 1932. The magazine featured full-page portraits of glamorous movie stars, such as Greta Garbo, Douglas Fairbanks, and John Gilbert,
interspersed with industry gossip; brief, to-the-point moving picture reviews; puffy interviews; and the occasional reader contest.
To read the complete article, see:
Oscars Before the Oscars (www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_oscars/2016/02/
A gilt bronze example of a circa 1960 Photoplay medal was offered by Stack's Bowers in their March 2014 Baltimore sale (Lot 51).
To read the complete lot description, see:
Undated (Circa 1960) Photoplay
Magazine Medal. Gilt Bronze. 63 mm. (http://old.stacksbowers.com/BrowseAuctions/LotDetail.aspx?AuctionID=6008&Lot=51&LotID=338932)
I kept looking for an example in gold and found this sale listing online. -Editor
This Tiffany &Company produced 14kt Yellow Gold Medal Token Award was given and presented to the Producer, Dore Schary, by “The
American Movie Going Public” of Photoplay Magazine for Best Picture for the movie: “Battleground” in 1950.
Size: 2.5 Inches in Diameter.
Weight: 3.01 ounces Pure Gold.
Very few of us can have an Oscar statuette on our mantle, but an awarded Photoplay medal in gold is a great trophy for the numismatist.
To read the complete item description, see:
PHOTOPLAY MEDAL OF HONOR: DORE SCHARY
Wayne Homren, Editor
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