Unloved Antiques: Bronze Commemorative Medals and Coins

This Medallic Arts Company medal, minted in 1950 to commemorate its own 50th year in business, has a very modest value.

Nearly everyone has a bronze commemorative coin or medal kicking about the house. I must have a half dozen or so myself from local events.

I have the 125th-anniversary coin of the founding of my town, an academic medal my mother received in 1944 and a Canadian centennial medallion I bought for $2 in 1967.

Most medals of this type were made by private mints, which struck by them under contract to commemorate milestone events such as anniversaries of a city or state or of the founding of companies. They were also made as presentation pieces for any number of events.

While examples struck in silver and gold can have values beyond their collectible price due to their precious metal content, those cast in bronze and other base metals often tend to have far more modest values.

The bronze medallion pictured was made by Medallic Art Company, founded by Henry Weil, circa 1900. It was designed in Art Deco style by Bruno Mankowski (1902-1990) and manufactured by Medallic Art Company to celebrate its own 50th anniversary in 1950.

Medallic Art Company is advertised as “America’s oldest and largest private mint” and had contracts to strike notable medals including the Pulitzer Prize, and the Newbery and Caldecott medals, the Peabody Award and inaugural medals for 11 U.S. presidents.

Medallic Art Company was originally located in New York, but it moved its base of operation a number of times; first in 1972 to Danbury, Conn., then to Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1991 and finally in to Dayton, Nev. in 1997. The company is still in business, its latest operation producing a full line of medals, belt buckles, key fobs and plaques from of its modern 115,000-square-foot building.

Values for Medallic Art Company’s medals depend a great deal on condition, rarity and collector demand. Values for mid-20th-century bronze examples like this one tend to be modest, often in the $20-to-$60 range at auction.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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