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Numismatic Art Award Recognizes Somogyi’s Work (1989)

Numismatic Art Award Recognizes Somogyi’s Work (1989)

“If I were a sculptor …”

– The Problem of Thor Bridge (THOR)

Somogyi with Taylor 1989

Marika Somogyi accepts the Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture from ANA President Stephen R. Taylor during the banquet at the ANA’s 98th Anniversary Convention. [1989]

This article first appeared in the November 1989 issue of The Numismatist

“Medals should be touched and held. I believe the medal has a future, that we will come more and more to have smaller things we treasure, and that we will have births, weddings and other important events commemorated in a medal,” says medallic sculptor Marika Somogyi.

Indeed, this attitude pervades her work, which is at once numismatic, artistic and commemorative. Somogyi’s medals, many commissioned by the Judah L. Magnes Memorial Museum in Berkeley, California, have honored Sherlock Holmes, Marc Chagall, Johann Sebastian Bach, David Ben-Gurion and Eleanor Roosevelt. In mid-1980 the Statue of Liberty Centennial Commission accepted her designs for an official centennial medal, praising her work for its “dynamic, unconventional, high level of creativity.”

For her contributions to the world of art and numismatics, Marika Somogyi was presented the American Numismatic Association Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture at the ANA’s 98th Anniversary Convention in Pittsburgh. She joins the ranks of other notable medallic sculptors, among them Paul Vincze, the first recipient of the award in 1966; Gilroy Roberts; Frank Gasparro; Elizabeth Jones; Gertrude Lathrop; Abram Belskie; Robert Weinman; Miko Kaufman and Marcel Jovine.Somogyi,_Mariki,_Sherlock_Holmes-combo

To mark the 100th anniversary of the literary debut of Sherlock Holmes, Somogyi created this unusual medal in 1987. (Actual Size: 42 x 54.6mm)

Somogyi studied art in her native Hungary before fleeing to the United States in 1957. For the next 20 years she worked as a commercial artist, helping fund her husband’s graduate studies and supporting him and their three sons. “Now my husband is a biochemist, … and the boys are grown. I am back at sculpture.”

Her medals have been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History, several congresses of the Federation Internationale de la Medaille (FIDEM), and at an American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA) exhibition held in New York in 1985.

Somogyi SoL Medal obvSomogyi SoL Medal rev

Somogyi designed and sculpted the medal issued by the Statue of Liberty Centennial Commission in 1986. (Actual Size: 44mm)

The Numismatic Art Award for Excellence in Medallic Sculpture is, in itself, a work of art. Designed and sculpted by Gilroy Roberts, chief engraver of the U.S. Mint from 1948 to 1964, the 4 1/2-ounce piece is struck in brilliant, 14kt gold by the Franklin Mint, one of the world’s leading producers of fine collectibles. The Franklin Mint has donated the award since its inception and also presents a gold medal to the recipient of the ANA’s first-place exhibit award for “Private Mint Issues after 1960” (Class 15).

“We’re delighted to provide these gold award medals for the American Numismatic Association,” says Robin Lynch, executive director of The Franklin Mint Collectors Society. “By recognizing the talents of outstanding medallic artists, the ANA helps to preserve an important artistic tradition … a tradition that is shared by the artists of The Franklin Mint.

This article first appeared in the November 1989 issue of The Numismatist (pages 1752-1754), official publication of the American Numismatic Association, www.money.org

Editor’s Note: Your editor was at this banquet in 1989 and was able to witness the presentation. It brings back many pleasant memories, as the man who presented the award, ANA President Stephen R. Taylor, befriended me ten years earlier and served as a mentor to me in the numismatic community.

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