Michael Oppenheim of Vancouver BC submitted these notes on an interesting group of Jewish presentation medals offered in an upcoming Goldbergs sale. Thanks - a great variety of pieces.
I have been collecting presentation medals for many years, and a number of the Jewish-related medals that were given to significant persons in entertainment and politics will be coming up for auction in the Judaica and the Entertainment sections of
The Collectibles Auction by Ira and Larry Goldberg on May 24, 2022. I thought that these could be of interest to your readers. Included among the material are the following five unique items.
1. A rare example of the silver State of Israel Bonds medal with hanger (CM 24a, 59mm, 115g) is inscribed to the famous Jewish comedian Jack Benny. It is the first issue type, with the signature of the Prime Minister of Israel Levi Eshkol. Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky) was probably the most prominent spokesman for Israel Bonds during the early years of Israel's existence and was recognized for his decades-long work many times. This medal first appeared in a William Rosenblum auction of September 1995.
2. A large (45mm) gold medal was given to the Labor leader George Meany in 1978. The gold Theodore Herzl Award is the highest award of the Zionist Organization of America. Other important recipients of the award include President Harry Truman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The obverse of the medal has a large portrait of Herzl and the reverse has an elegant engraved inscription:
To George Meany, faithful friend of Israel, for his devotion to America and its Labor Movement, for his support of the Jewish people's struggle to re-establish the Jewish state, and for his aid in defending Israel against the enemies of Democracy. Washington D.C., June 6, 1978. George Meany (1894-1980) was a prominent union leader and political figure in the 1960s. He founded the AFL-CIO in 1955, served for 25 years as its first president, and was a major supporter of the Kennedy Administration and the Democratic Party in that period.
3. This item consists of a red leather covered box containing three gold pieces that were presented to the orchestra conductor Leonard Bernstein in 1968. A small silver plaque on the box is inscribed:
To Maestro Leonard Bernstein in deep appreciation for the unforgettable festive concerts celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the State of Israel––The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Tel Aviv, 2nd May, 1968. Inside the box are an Israel 100 Lirot Reunification of Jerusalem 1968 gold coin, and two gold medals (each approximately 29g, 22K) celebrating the victory of the 1967 War. The box first appeared in a Sotheby's, New York auction of
The Property from the Estate of Leonard Bernstein, Dec. 10 and 11, 1997, lot 13.
4. A solid gold Boston Fireman's (Fire Chief) badge is engraved to Louis B. Mayer (
The King of Hollywood) dated May 14, 1926. It was presented to him at a large, public ceremony at the end of a long publicity trip he made for his silent movie,
The Fire Brigade: The Heroes of Peace. To publicize this late silent movie Mayer rented a railway car to travel throughout America, from the West Coast to the East Coast. During that trip he met with representatives of Fire Departments in different cities to advertise the movie. Boston was especially important to him, because it was there he began his career in the movie industry. This badge earlier appeared in a Butterfield and Butterfield auction in 1996 (lot 1247).
5. An early example of the Joseph Human Rights Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, was given to the prominent Democratic politician and Civil Rights leader Barbara Jordan. She was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate since Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The silver medal (59mm, 6mm thick, 170g) is inscribed:
Joseph Prize for Human Rights to Barbara Jordan, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, on behalf of the Joseph Foundation…October 23, 1993, Detroit, Michigan. The award is in a folder, which also contains a large (59mm) silver Israel State medal that commemorates the Jewish war for freedom from Roman rule that ended with a heroic stand at Masada in 73-74 CE.
Further information about these items and others in the group will be on-line starting May 15 on the Ira and Larry Goldberg website as well as with Live Auctioneers.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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