The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser
1922 Medal/MAco 1919-007





Coin Details

Full Grade: NGC MS 67
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

Owner Comments:

Many of Laura Gardin Fraser’s early commissions came from animal enthusiast organizations such as the “Irish Setter Club of America,” “Bide-A-Wee [Scottish for Stay A While],” and “The Morgan Horse Club.” It was Mrs. Fraser’s precise renderings of specific animal breeds like the Irish Setter featured on the 1922 “Irish Setter Club of America” medal that earned her those commissions. Underlying Mrs. Fraser’s skill at sculpting animals was her love and appreciation of animals. This she developed as a youth growing up around the family’s horses, dogs, and other pets at the Gardin’s summer home in Caldwell, New Jersey. As a consequence, horses and dogs were among Mrs. Fraser’s favorite subjects to sculpt. [1][2][3]

Laura Gardin was born to John Emil and Alice Tilton Gardin on September 14, 1889, in Chicago, Illinois. The Gardin’s moved to New York City in 1904 where Laura attended Horace Mann School and subsequently The Art Students League. Laura Gardin’s mother, Alice Tilton Gardin had always encouraged Laura in the arts and it became apparent to her that Laura showed a talent for modeling figures and working with clay. Laura herself had this to say about her mother: "Mother, whom we affectionately called Neo, was both a talented painter and musician. She taught us girls and encouraged us to study the arts." Leila Gardin Sawyer recalls Laura's talent in sculpture as a youngster. Among her first figures were "Rough Rider" and a portrait of actress "Maude Adams." [4]

The Irish Setter Club of America (ISCA) medal first modeled by Laura Gardin Fraser in 1922 is still awarded by the club to the dogs of club members which have received an American Kennel Club title. What’s more, this medal is prominently displayed in the header of the ISCA website. Thus, almost 100 years later, it serves as a legacy to Mrs. Fraser’s artistic ability as a sculptor for her rendering of the Irish Setter featured on the obverse of the ISCA medal. [5]

The obverse of the ISCA medal depicts an Irish Setter proudly standing below an Irish harp. Before and behind the setter are three shamrocks bordering the edge of the medal. The legend, “Irish Setter Club of America” appears overhead along the medals top rim. Mrs. Fraser’s name and title are superimposed over the harp, “Laura Gardin, Sculptor”.

The inscription Affection, Courage, Beauty, and Intelligence are separated by shamrocks encircling the reverse border. Another inscription, “To encourage breeding and develop and perfect nature’s contribution to a noble race awarded to” appears over a leash wrapped in the shape of a bone. Below the leash is a rectangular cartouche. The leash and the cartouche provide space for specific inscriptions.

In his book “Numismatic Art in America” author Cornelius Vermule describes this medal as a “very Renaissance, very Pisanello like medal” featuring a portrait of a “most humanistic” setter! For my part, I compared the dog on the medal to a photograph of an Irish Setter. The first thing I noticed is that the smooth glistening coat on the photograph is realistically matched to the smooth relief of the medal. Next, the frayed portion of the dog’s coat on his ears, breast, belly, legs, and tail on the photograph correspond to the tangled, frayed, and rough texture of the dog’s coat on the medal. Finally, the long snout is perfectly matched from the photo to the medal. This medal then is proof that Laura Gardin Fraser was not only skilled in sculpting animals but also in sculpting breeds. [6]

1 CoinWorld, 11/04/11, Honoring Bide-A-Wee by David T. Alexander, news/us-coins/2011/11/honoring-bide-a-wee.html#
2 The Numismatist, July 2013, pg. 35
3 The Meadowlark Gallery,
4 End of the Trail the Odyssey of a Statue by Dean Krakel, pg. 32
5 The Irish Setter Club of America,
6 Numismatic Art in America by Cornelius Vermule

To follow or send a message to this user,
please log in