Historical and Commemorative
Collection of Benjamin Weiss
Welcome to this web site describing my collection of Historical and Commemorative Medals. I have been collecting medals for almost forty years now, starting in 1972 when one of my postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Robert Levin, introduced me to this interesting field. For this I am greatly indebted to him.
My choice of pieces to collect was governed by what I considered to be their artistic value and secondarily, but importantly, by their historical significance. Accordingly, you will find in this collection medals from a number of countries and several artistic and historic periods, ranging from the 16th through the 19th centuries. This diversity made decisions concerning the organization and presentation of the medals particularly difficult. For I wished to present the collection both from an artistic perspective, where the pieces would be listed by artistic style and medallist, and from an historical prospective, where medals of similar topics or historical events would be shown together. This proved to be an impossible task. Therefore, I have decided on the not totally satisfying compromise of presenting the collection by the country in which the medallist primarily worked, rather than by the medal's topic, with subcategories arranged in as chronological an order as feasible, either by medallist or by historical event.
For each country or medallist there are thumbnails showing the medals in the collection. From this site high resolution images and a brief description of the medals may be reached. I have also included a short biographical sketch of the medallists of each country. The object of the descriptions was to try, insofar as I was able, to put the medal into an historical context. To expand on the historical context of the medal, LINKS to relevant web sites have been provided. In many cases, these historical commentaries are still incomplete and should be considered as 'a work in progress'. In some cases I have also included paintings and other works of art relevant to the medal entries by way of LINKS to web sites devoted to art, including those of some of the great art museums. This was an attempt not only to increase the interest of the site but also to put the Art of the Medal into the general context of Art.
The descriptions and explanations of the medals have been taken from standard reference sources and from information found in texts and various discourses and catalogues on medals cited in the BIBLIOGRAPHY. I have also borrowed heavily from other web sites, particularly from an excellent compendium on World History by Alexander Ganse. To the authors of these works I am deeply indebted.
The biographical sketches cited for the medallists in this web site, were excerpted largely from Forrer's comprehensive Biographical Dictionary of Medallists. The descriptions and interpretations of the reverses of the medals that relate to English history were taken in large measure from Edward Hawkins' classic two volume book, Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain and Ireland to the Death of George II, often verbatim, and from Medallic History of England printed by Wilson and Co. in 1802. Information related to the Dassier medals was also taken, in large part, from the recently published books devoted exclusively to the medals executed by the Dassier family: the very useful book by Dr. Peter Thompson (The Dassier Family and its Medals), and the excellent and comprehensive two volume set written by William Eisler, describing the history and works of the Dassier family (The Dassiers of Geneva: 18th Century European Medallists).
I am grateful for the help received in translating the inscriptions on the medals of foreign texts, namely: Dr. Martin Ostwald, for his expert advice with the Latin inscriptions, Dr. Genoveva Davidkova for translating the Cyrillic on the Russian pieces, Dr. Jacek Kotowski for translating the Polish descriptions in Wiecek's book on the medals of Sebastian Dadler, and my lovely granddaughter for the Hebrew translations. Some of the Latin inscriptions on the medals, those for which I have not yet received expert advice, have been translated rather loosely; any corrections or clarifications of these translations would be greatly appreciated.
I am especially indebted to Katy Needle and Wayne Kachelries for their expertise and very generous help in designing this web site. I also greatly appreciate the help Jay Cohen has given me in setting up the web hosting and thank DelawareValley.org and DCANet for providing the web hosting. I am particularly grateful to my family: my son Jeff, who has made innumerable suggestions concerning the photography and management of my computer files, and my lovely wife Joyce, who has not only made numerous suggestions concerning the editing and historical aspects of the whole project but who has patiently put up with me during this labor of love.
This site offers both HIGH RESOLUTION and LOWER RESOLUTION paths for the images. The best way to navigate through either of these paths is through the TABLE OF CONTENTS. Please feel free to CONTACT ME with your questions, comments, suggestions or corrections, such as information on missing Links. I hope you enjoy the tour.
Table of Contents