Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


ST GAUDENS, Augustus / BARBER, Charles, USA, 1893, Bronze, 76 mm
Obv: Columbus, arms outstretched, arriving on shore of America    CHRISTOPHER COLVMBVS OCT.XII MCCCCXCII
Rev: Fame and Science on either side of Globe, above inscription reading,  WORLD'S. COLUMBIAN. EXPOSITION IN. COMMEMORATION. OF. THE. FOUR. HUNDREDTH. ANNIVERSARY OF. THE. LANDING. OF. COLUMBUS. MDCCCXCII . MDCCCXCIII. TO (with separate die, inscribed : J.H.L. DE HAAS.). The cartouche is flanked by torches to either side.
Mintage:  400-600 known
In aluminum, plush-lined case of issue
Ref: Eglit 90; Baxter 87; Marqusee 348;  Jaeger and Bowers 64/53;  Tolles p. 135;  Weiss BW549

The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, was the last and the greatest of the nineteenth century's World's Fairs. Nominally a celebration of Columbus' voyages 400 years prior, the Exposition was in actuality a reflection and celebration of American culture and society--for fun, edification, and profit--and a blueprint for life in modern and postmodern America.
At the end of the 19th century, immense changes were taking place in the American way of life. Society was no longer based on agriculture, but on factories and urban centers. The World's Columbian Exposition was the perfect vehicle to explore these revolutionary changes while at the same time celebrating the kind of society America had become. World's Fairs, by the end of the century, were an established cultural and entertainment form with immense international influence. From the first major nineteenth century exposition, the 1851 "Crystal Palace" fair in London, to Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exhibition, to Paris' Exposition Universelle of 1889, hundreds of millions of people around the world visited over 50 international fairs in the last half of the century, finding in them not only entertainment, but cultural enlightenment, commercial opportunity, and a reflection of their age. (From, http://xroads.virginia.edu/)

This medal, the obverse of which was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the reverse by Charles F. Barber, was made in 1892 by the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut. Scovill was an early industrial American innovator, adapting armory manufacturing processes to mass-produce a variety of consumer goods, including buttons and campaign medals.

Saint Gaudens' original design for the reverse was rejected by prudish Treasury Department officials because it displayed a nude male youth. The Mint then asked its own Charles Barber for a suitable replacement. On the obverse, the hooded figure with beard and hooked nose to the right side of Columbus is believed to be Augustus Saint Gaudens himself- - the only known self portrait.  Saint-Gaudens is regarded as the greatest sculptor produced by America.

Johannes Hubertus L. de Haas (1832-1908), whose name is inscribed on the reverse of this medal, was a Dutch painter whose major works were of cows painted in their natural pastoral settings.  In 1861 he received the gold medal at the Utrecht Exhibition, and in 1869 he won a gold medal at the International Art Exhibition in Munich. He also exhibited at The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, where he won the prize medal shown here.

LINK to Paintings by  Haas (from artnet)

LINK to Columbian Exposition (from xroads.virginia.edu)

LINK to St Gaudens' rejected reverse of this medal 

LINK to World's Columbian Exposition Tokens and Medals (from columbianexpo.com)