The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser
1957 Medal/MAco 1956-041





Coin Details

Origin/Country: United States
Design Description: MEDALLIC ART CO. MEDALS
Full Grade: NGC MS 65 BN
Owner: coinsbygary

Set Details

Custom Sets: The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Explorer NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

Thematic coins and medals based on western subjects were a favorite of both Frasers. James Earle Fraser was born in Winona, Minnesota on November 4, 1876. In 1880 his family moved to Mitchell in the Dakota Territory. It was here in the vast openness of the American frontier that James love of the West grew. In the case of Laura Gardin Fraser, I believe it was her love of American history, the allure and excitement of the American frontier, and her love of horses that inspired her rendition of the “Oklahoma Run” on the 1957 Oklahoma Semicentennial Medal. [1]

The motivation for James and Laura’s love of the West impacted their interpretation of it. In an interview with Mrs. Fraser, Dean Krakel, the author of “End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue” writes in his book; “There is a mood not only to our lives but to our studio and to everything we have ever done. I saw the frontier in a different light from Jimmy. I saw it with all its glamour, excitement, and motion and so created my Oklahoma Run. Jimmy saw the spiritual mood, the tragedy and emotional undercurrents of the frontier and so created his End of the Trail.”

Late in his life, James Earle Fraser received a commission from the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds to sculpt a relief panel of the 1889 Oklahoma Run. With his health failing and near death he asked Laura to finish the panel which at the time was only in the preliminary stages of design. Based on James sketches, Laura finished the 4 x 20 foot panel two years after his death in 1955. The relief panel features more than 250 figures composed primarily of horses and riders. Unfortunately, due to several disagreements it was not delivered until after Laura’s death in 1966 and a decade after the 1957 Oklahoma semicentennial celebration. The “Run of 1889” relief panel currently resides at Oklahoma City’s Bicentennial Plaza and is the model for the obverse of the Oklahoma Semicentennial Medal. [2][3]

Up for grabs on April 22,1889 was 2 million acres of land and 50,000 people simultaneously vying for it. [4] In all the chaos surrounding this event Mrs. Fraser brilliantly portrays a glimpse of all the glamour, excitement, and fast movement of the Oklahoma Run as featured on the obverse of the Oklahoma Semicentennial medal. She accomplishes this by varying the relief and size of the obverse devices. The highest relief devices are the largest and most detailed of the obverse images. A large horse and rider in full gallop forms the central device and gives the impression of fast motion. As the relief lowers so does the size and details of the images until the images forming the lowest relief are very small and numerous. This gives the obverse a three dimensional look. At the highest relief is a cloud of dust which frames the devices. A few wagons, one just behind the central horse and rider and a covered wagon towards the back adds diversity to the devices.

The following is a description of the reverse as given by the editor of The Numismatist, Elston G. Bradfield in the June 1958 issue of The Numismatist; “Reverse: Around, at top, OKLAHOMA SEMI-CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION, at bottom, OKLAHOMA CITY; in center, two dramatic figures facing left, one representing energy and progress and the other imagination and vision; woven into the design are symbols of each activity that is derived from the earth, the air, fire and water. Harvesting is suggested by the scythe, mining by the pick, electricity by the wheels, animal husbandry by the cow and sheep, and power by the waterfall, oil wells and atomic symbol. The figure of Vision reflects the reverence that comes to him from on High. The symbol of the arrow piercing the symbol of atomic energy was the theme of the Oklahoma Semicentennial Exposition, "Arrows to Atoms" in 50 years. To the left of the central figures is 1907 and to right, 1957. In exergue, ~ PROGRESS ~ VISION~.” Of certainty, Laura Gardin Fraser employed numerous and appropriate symbols to tell the story of Oklahoma on the reverse of this medal.

This medal is struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company and is 76mm in diameter. Distribution was by the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce at a cost of $7.50 each. [5]

1 “End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue” by Dean Krakel; Chapters 2 & 4.
2 The Numismatist, July 2013, “Canine & Equine the Art of Laura Gardin Fraser”, pg. 36-37.
3 “End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue” by Dean Krakel; Chapter 4.
4 Wikipedia, “Land Rush of 1889”;
5 The Numismatist, June 1958, page 664

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