Washington Inaugural Centennial Medallion In Silver

The centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as America’s first president under the newly adopted Constitution was celebrated with many medals. Pre-eminent was the 112 millimeter medallion (ANA terminology: a medal over 100mm in diameter) for the New York City Committee on Celebration, which engaged the great sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens and designer Philip Martiny to create a masterpiece of medallic art. Most examples known are cast in bronze, but perhaps three are known in silver. These were cast as shells joined into a single piece by the New York firm of Gorham Mfg. Co., one of the great silversmiths of the late 1900s.

The design reflects Saint Gaudens’ love of Renaissance-style cast medals, presenting a half-length civil bust of the Father of his Country with the ancient Roman fasces at r. The reverse bears a 13-line commemorative inscription with the American spread eagle and a shield of New York City, where the first president took the oath of office. An example with edge inscribed GORHAM MFG. CO. STERLING appears in the Stack’s Bowers’ September 2011 Philadelphia Americana Sale. It is a major rarity and a beautifully cast example of this bold design. It is a rare and significant medallic monument to our first president and the two internationally known artists who joined their talents to produce it.

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