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After.  Modeled by an artist from a previous work of art by another artist. Normally in designing or modeling a coin or medal, the artist uses many two and three-dimension design suggestions: photographs, printed illustrations, existing medals or bas-reliefs, any existing designs the artist might adapt to the present work. Some artists refer this

idea bank as their "clip file" adding to it their entire professional life (and even donating these files to another artist or will them on their death!). When an artist is commissioned to prepare a new design from only one previous work – often from a different media – he must then credit the original artist.

A series of medals on Remington bronzes was prepared by Avard Fairbanks; thus

it was Fairbanks “after” Frederick Remington. Another example was the Ford Motor Company 50th Anniversary Medal, 1953. The medal was prepared by Anthony

de Francisci “after” a particular stunning three-generation portrait study by Norman Rockwell of Henry, Edsel and Henry Ford II.  Only in rare instances will the term after appear in the signature on the medallic piece.

Sources of images.  Many pictorial sources are used by artists. A major source

useful to artists is the Picture Collection of the New York Public Library. Picture collections at local libraries are sometimes useful. The Westport Connecticut Public Library maintains such a clip file for the many artists in its area. It is easy to search such files by topic, the library allows artists to photocopy the prints or check them out (like checking out a book). If the print is in public domain, artists have free use to copy or adapt the image. (If the picture is still under copyright, the artist must contact the copyright owner – this act is called "due diligence" – and obtain permission or pay a fee for the required use).

Picture archives, commercial and private, which charge a fee, are also important

sources (some with multimillion inventories). In one modern step, Microsoft's Bill Gates purchased the entire Betteman archive and has scanned and digitized over two million picture images for another source in the computer age.

But one published source rises above all others for coin and medal artists: back issues of the National Geographic. This source was deemed so important for illustrative ideas that Franklin Mint acquired a complete run of all past issues (and its excellent indexes) for just such picture research for their coin and medal designers.


            Comparison New Haven 200th and 300th Anniversary Medals

Two native sons, an architect, Itheil Town, and a sculptor, Hezekiah Augur, prepared the original design, Temptation of the Wilderness, for the City of New Haven.

In 1838 the City commissioned Charles Cushing Wright to engrave this design for their bicentennial medal. This was done – he hand engraved both obverse and reverse – and it was struck at the United States Mint (CM-37). One hundred years later the same medallic design was chosen for the city's tercentennial. Sculptor Julio Kilenyi was commissioned to prepare the model for this medal (to be struck by Robbins Company, Attleboro).

Kilenyi prepared his model “after” Wright's 19th century medal, “after” Augur's

and Town's original design, yet Kilenyi adapted it to the 20th century vogue. (He prepared an oversize model to be pantographically reduced.) It is interesting to note exactly what he did to modernize it. The scene of Reverend Davenport preaching the sermon Temptations of the Wilderness under a large oak tree to his listeners, is the same on both medals.

But note what the artist has done with lettering. Kilenyi made the inscription larger, he placed the date at the bottom obverse, placed the center scene on a raised center panel (or recessed the border), and placed the motto inside the border on the center panel.

The reverse repeats many of the design elements he used on the obverse (an excellent method to tie the obverse and reverse together). We observe date of the anniversary year at the bottom, name of the anniversary and city name as inscription above, the center scene on a raised panel again (causing the recessed border), and the motto inside the border. Because medals are two-sided, the repeated use of similar design elements on both sides gives harmony (by repetition and uniformity) to the total medal.

Kilenyi added modern buildings in the clouds over the 17th century scene on the reverse. In addition, and in contrast to the ships in the water below, he added an airplane in the sky above!

These two medals are fine medallic designs, representative of their era. Both seasoned artists employed medallic design principles in use in their era. They intimately knew their media and used their contemporary expertise to create eminently designed medals of the same subject, a century apart. Excellent examples of medallic art.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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