The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 3, January 16, 2017, Article 12


From an unlikely source comes this group of images of Presidential Inaugural medals. Greg Ruby's blog The Fourth Garrideb - Numismatics of Sherlock Holmes featured articles this week on the inaugural medals of two Presidents who held honorary memberships in the Sherlockian society Baker Street Irregulars. -Editor

T1666681_214 The polls indicated that a Presidential candidate would win the general election handily. However, when the votes were tabulated, the other candidate was victorious. Are we talking about the recent 2016 Presidential election? No, we are referring to the 1948 Presidential election where incumbent Harry S Truman defeated Thomas Dewey.

Truman was made an honorary member of the Baker Street Irregulars by Edgar W. Smith. With the upcoming 2017 Presidential inauguration days away, this seems like an appropriate time to discuss Truman’s 1949 inaugural medal.

1949 Truman Inaugural Medal obverse 1949 Truman Inaugural Medal reverse

Truman’s inaugural medal features a robust portrait of Truman, facing left, surrounded by 48 stars in the obverse. The reverse features a striking figure of Liberty and a group of small figures below, symbolizing the aspirations of humanity for Freedom. The reverse is inscribed: HARRY S/ TRUMAN/ INAUGURATED PRESIDENT/ OF THE/ UNITED STATES/ JANUARY 20/ 1949.

The 51mm medal had 7,500 copies struck in bronze, more than double the quantity struck for Roosevelt’s 1945 inauguration. Copies are also known to exist in gold and silver. Carl Paul Jennewein, a noted sculptor residing in the Bronx section of New York, designed the medal, which was struck by the United States Mint in Philadelphia. Earlier, in 1933, Jennewein designed the Glory and Fame medal in the Society of Medallist’s series.

To read the complete article, see:
The 1949 Inaugural Medal of BSI Member Harry S Truman (

This January 13, 2017 article discusses the inaugural medals of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. -Editor

We have discussed before how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was awarded an honorary membership in the Baker Street Irregulars in 1942... With the 2017 President Inauguration a few days away, this seems like a good time to review the four different inaugural medals of Roosevelt. We’ll discuss the medals in reverse order, with the most recent to the first.

1945 Roosevelt Inaugural Medal obverse 1945 Roosevelt Inaugural Medal reverse

The 1945 medal for Roosevelt’s fourth inaugration was designed by Jo Davidson and 3,000 of the 45mm medals were struck by the United States Mint in Philadelphia. Examples are also known in gold and silver. Davidson’s design features a very gaunt Roosevelt, facing right in a Navy greatcoat and surrounded by the legend FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT ~ FOURTH INAUGURATION 1945. The U.S.F. Constitutiion is featured under full sail on the reverse of the medal, with the inscription THOU TOO SAIL ON O SHIP OF STATE ~ SAIL ON O UNION STRONG AND GREAT around the border.

1941 Roosevelt Inaugural Medal type one obverse 1941 Roosevelt Inaugural Medal type one reverse

The 1941 medals, unusually, were struck at the U.S. Mint with the agency’s design input, thanks to Roosevelt’s friend Nellie Tayloe Ross, director of the U.S. Mint, who was appointed chairman of the medals committee. The commission enlisted sculptor Jo Davidson to design the obverse, with U.S. Mint chief engraver John Sinnock designing the reverse. Davidson secured last-minute sittings with the president, modeling the portrait’s style after an ancient Syracusan gold coin.

The obverse of the 42mm medal has a bust of Roosevelt, facing left, surrounded by the legend of FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT / (star) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (star). The reverse is a very basic design of THIRD INAUGURATION around the border and the date of JAN. / 20, / 1941 within a wreath. Some examples may have a small numeral 2 at the open end of the wreath.

Following lackluster sales for the 1933 and 1937 inaugural medals, Roosevelt directed the committee to make the 1941 medals more affordable, according to The President’s Medal 1789-1977 by Neil MacNeil.

At a price of $1, the medal sold out its mintage of 1,000 the first day of sale, and the committee authorized another 1,000 to be made. A small number 2, placed at the open end of the wreath on the reverse, distinguishes the second batch. Those too sold out and another 1,000 were authorized, also with the number 2 added.

1937 Roosevelt Inaugural Medal

For Roosevelt’s second inauguration (the first to be held on January 20th, rather than in March), Joseph Atchinson, a Washington, DC based sculptor, designed this 76mm medal. Tradition is that on a medal for a President’s second term, the vice president is also featured on the medal, so John Nance Garner appears on this medal. The fact that the wording on this medal is incused, and not raised, is highly unusual within the inaugural medal series. Over 1,000 medals were struck by the Medallic Art Company and did not sell very well.

1933 Roosevelt Inaugural Medal

Roosevelt’s first inaugural medal was designed by Paul Manship, featuring a left facing Roosevelt on the obverse and the U.S.F. Constitution (this concept was used again on the 1945 medal) on the reverse. The 76mm medal did not sell at well, probably as a result of the Great Depression that was ongoing at the time. The dies for this medal were created by the Medallic Art Company, but the actual medals were struck in Philadelphia at the United States Mint.

To read the complete article, see:
The Presidential Inaugural Medals of BSI Member Franklin D. Roosevelt (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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