In the world of medallic art, France may come to mind for its association with some of the most skilled and elegant craftsmen and their work, especially during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Any survey of medals and coins from this period will show the beauty that the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements provided to the numismatic scene. However, production of artistic medals was not limited to France. Although Sweden is not as often represented in collections and literature devoted to numismatic art, it is not due to a lack of exceptional material produced by incredible sculptor/engravers. One such artist was Johan Lindberg, most commonly known by his middle name, Erik.
Born in Stockholm on the final day of 1873, Erik grew up with an artistic presence, as his father, Johan Adolph, was a famous sculptor and engraver of medals, even serving as a professor at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. Focused intently upon his craft, Erik split most of the 1890s training at his father’s studio and studying at the Academy. Following his graduation from the Academy, he earned a scholarship for study in Paris where he was greatly influenced by the styles of such luminaries as Louis-Oscar Roty and Jules-Clément Chaplain. It was during this period that he was tasked with the creation of the medals to be awarded for the newly established Nobel Prizes, one of the first of his numismatic contributions. While the reverse designs of these majestic medals vary based upon the subject matter celebrated, the obverses all display the same classical rendition of Alfred Nobel, the creator of the trust used to finance the prizes. Outside of the Peace Prize, presented instead in Oslo, and the Economics Prize, created much later by the Sveriges Riksbank, Lindberg’s renditions continue to be used for the prize medals as well as the medals presented to the nominating committees. Though the actual prize medals are almost never encountered in the market, the nominating medals do appear at auction and have become quite popular as they are generally as close as one can realistically get to an actual prize medal.
Lindberg’s medallic portfolio doesn’t end at the Nobel Prize and Nominating Committee medals, as he actively produced some of the most elegant and expressive medals of the period, even designing some of the circulating gold denominations for the Swedish mint. His style presents a strong background in Art Nouveau, yet also offers hints of Art Deco and a definitive nod to the reinvigorated allure of Neoclassicism. During the first half of the 20th century, he created a wealth of timeless pieces for the collector of fine medallic art that is still rather unexplored by the community.
Our June Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction offers a number of Nobel medals from various years relating to the nominating committee on Medicine, as well as an iconic silver medal for Alfred Nobel himself on the 30th anniversary of his death in 1926. On this rather rare piece, Lindberg’s unique style is on full display, with a representation of Athena/Minerva spearing a three-headed serpentine hydra. Discover these wonderfully classic and distinguishing works by one of medallic art’s lesser-mentioned master engraver/sculptors in our CCO today!
To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit StacksBowers.com where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.
We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting submissions for our Official Auction of the Hong Kong Show taking place October, and our Official Auction of the January 2021 N.Y.I.N.C. Our next CCO (Collectors Choice Online) auction will be in June, with another following in October (for which the consignment deadline is September 8th). If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.