Heath MacAlpine of Dayton, Ohio
submitted these notes on two topics raised last week. Thanks!
Two of last week’s article resonated with me because of recent additions to my medal collection. The
first was the article on Adam Pietz, which was a follow up on the previous week’s piece featuring the
video of the Philadelphia Mint in 1940. Along with footage of Pietz, we briefly see Chief Engraver John
Sinnock working on the clay model of the obverse of the FDR Presidential Medal, which was actually the
second version he had done of Roosevelts portrait, entering production late in his first term (why is
Sinnock working on it in a film made five years later?).
The connection to Pietz? Well, I recently bought
an example of his rare 1933 medal of Roosevelt. It’s unknown whether this was an unsuccessful
competitor with Sinnock’s medal(s), or an independent effort by Pietz, the mint’s number two engraver.
A nice job, though I think Sinnock’s does a better job of capturing the President.
The second connection was with the article detailing the sale of the assets of the Northwest Territorial
Mint and the Medallic Art Company, specifically the Medallic Art dies. You have to have a bit of unease
at the thought of Society of Medalist and other historical dies ending up in the wrong hands (China,
anyone?). The old/new Medallic Art was already monetizing the old dies. Last year, they began offering
restrikes of various SOM issues, priced at an aggressive $250 – doubt they sold too many at that price
What got my attention, though, was their offering of a bronze restrike of the Congressional Gold Medal
awarded to Captain Arthur Rostron of RMS Carpathia, rescue ship of the Titanic. This is not an easy
medal to find. A search of the Newman Numismatic Portal turns up only one sale, a bronze example in a
1985 Presidential Coins & Antiques auction. Nothing in the Heritage or Stacks/Bowers online archives or
in the ANS collection database. You can understand Medallic Art’s enthusiasm for marketing the medal.
Less clear is their legal standing to do so. While Congress authorized a gold medal for Rostron, they did
not authorize the striking of any copies. I would be surprised if they actually owned the dies; they were
bought and paid for by the United States, and are likely the property of the Treasury Department. Use of
public property for private profit is generally frowned upon.
And then there’s the cryptic reference to this medal in the blog following the NWTM/Medallic Art saga.
In his March 12 post, the author talks about the scrap value of the various dies. He then writes;
Next comes the Medallic dies, which are large, heavy, and have historical value (such as the die
for a coin that was given to the captain of the ship that picked up 700 Titanic survivors... a die
that some NWTM employees are very familiar with).
Hmmm. Curious and curiouser. You’ll be happy to know, though, that I overcame my qualms and bought
an example last fall for a cool $150, plus shipping, before the doors closed. It will be interesting to see if
any more turn up.
To read the About.ag blog on the Northwest Territorial Mint:
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
U.S. MINT SCULPTOR-ENGRAVER ADAM PEITZ
NORTHWEST TERRITORIAL MINT ASSET SALES
Wayne Homren, Editor
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