Skip to content

NNP Blog

May 23 2023

Homer Saint-Gaudens Speaks on the Franklin Commemorative Medal

Scanning of the American Numismatic Society member correspondence through the 1930s continue apace, with correspondents through the letter S now posted.  In a communication of April 22, 1927, Homer Saint-Gaudens (son of Augustus) clarifies the creation of the Tiffany medal commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Benjamin Franklin. Saint-Gaudens writes in part “I do not approve of your showing the medal as being done merely by ‘Saint-Gaudens,’ because that is equivalent to saying ‘Augustus Saint-Gaudens,’ as far as the general public is concerned.” Homer clarified that the work was done by his uncle Louis, and that “my father always considered it the work of his brother.” 

The Medallic Art Company consulted with the engraver James E. Fraser, who has assisted Augustus Saint-Gaudens with the medal. Fraser credited the reverse to Louis but felt that Augustus had reworked the obverse to the extent that “beyond question the portrait was his work.” The whole thread is reminiscent of the authorship of the Beatles’ catalog. John and Paul sometimes provided differing stories as to who composed what. The Saint-Gaudens clan was likely not operating under same level of mind-altering substances, but the salient point is that in a commercial operation with many moving parts, the details of exactly who did what are sometimes lost to history.

Link to Homer Saint-Gaudens correspondence with ANS:
Link to ANS member correspondence:
NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.