The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 2, January 14, 2024, Article 13


E-Sylum Feature Writer and American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this article inspired by Dave Baldwin's South Carolina SPCA medal. Thanks! -Editor

  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was established in England in 1824. The movement has spread to independent branches around the world. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was established in 1866.

The seal of The American Society for Cruelty to Animals was drawn by Frank Leslie and first published in 1867. The Central design was reproduced for other seals and medals.

  ASPCA seal NJSPCA seal

  American and New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seals

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) was established in 1868. Their seal uses the same central design as the ASPCA seal.

The artwork appears identical. There may be variations as the actual design is produced. The South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCSPCA) was founded in 1874. The name was changed in 1940. There is a medal currently on eBay for the SCSPCA shown on the right below. Diameter is 38mm. The piece was uniface with an attached pin to be worn as a badge.

The piece shown in The E-Sylum (left below) has a similar but not identical design.

  SCSPCA medal comparison

The goals of the ASPCA were not universally accepted in South Carolina. This was included in The Charleston Mercury for May 7, 1867:

And so it comes about, that in all large communities little mutual admiration societies spring up, of persons who having themselves achieved perfection, feel called upon to coerce their neighbors into the same beatific state; and under the title of Peace Societies, Humane Societies and Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are the most arrogant and intolerable intermeddlers with things that they know nothing about, and in which they have no concern, Since they are virtuous, they will have it that there shall be no more cakes and ale in the land.

  The Humane Society

The first Humane society was more devoted to the rescue and resuscitation of drowning victims and less about animals. A Humane Society is a general term that applies to organizations like the SPCA. The American Humane Association was founded in 1877. The current Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was not established until 1954.

There are some challenging issues with the medal shown in The E-Sylum. The purpose of the medal is not self-evident from the legends.

The Humane Society and the SPCA were really two different things. The 1850 date is before there was a Humane Society or SPCA in the United States. I doubt if this medal was struck in 1850.

The person portrayed on the medal is not identified by name or linked to any specific event.

  Nathaniel Russell Middleton

I found one possible suspect. The photo on the left is Professor Nathaniel Russell Middleton (1810-1890). He was a wealthy plantation owner and president of the College of Charleston 1857 to 1880. He became the first president of the Charleston Humane Society in 1880.

In 2007 the organization name was changed to Charleston Animal Society. I contacted them for information about the medal and my question was referred to their 150th Anniversary Committee. I have not yet received a response.

I sent the pictures to Wayne and we agree that there is a similarity in the images, but enough difference to be unsure of an identification.

I have a feeling based on a long history of studying medals. I suspect this medal is a muling of two dies originally intended for other medals. Those medals remain to be identified.

Thanks, Pete! Great work. Numismatic research rarely hits the bullseye on the first attempts, and sometimes a definitive answer can never be found. But this is a great advance. With luck we can build on this base over time. -Editor

Dave Baldwin writes:

"I think Pete may be right on! A little more sleuthing and I found that the Charleston Animal Society was founded in 1874 and originally known as the South Carolina SPCA. This became what is now the Charleston Humane Society in 1880 with Professor Middleton its first president. If there is another medal using the reverse die that makes more sense then I would say it was a muling. But I also think there is a good chance it was just another case of George H. Lovett simply making an error and not catching it - which was not uncommon.

"And was this the work of George H? I have attributed it to him because of the muling with the generic award die that is signed. A question for another day."

To visit Dave's Tokens and Medals website, see:
Lovett Tokens & Medals (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: JANUARY 7, 2024 : Query: Humane Society 1850 Medal (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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