A Scion Society of The Baker Street Irregulars
“Now, these are a really very fine series of portraits.”
– The Hound of The Baskervilles (HOUN)
I shudder to think of the genius being lost by nations as they close their doors to refugees seeking safety from the terrors of war and famine. Even our hobby can serve as a reflection of such losses. For examples, we need only look at the flight of refugees from the east during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
Designs of the coins of several Western nations benefited from the exodus. There is Paul Vincze, whose talents won him an invitation to the White House and a personal pose by Harry Truman for a series of medals bearing the presidential profile.
The visage of Queen Elizabeth, as now seen on the coins of our neighbor to the north, Canada, is the work of another escapee from the Communist invasion of Hungary. Dora de Pedery Hunt lists a number of Canadian coins to her credit.
Here in the United States, the talented Marika Somogyi comes immediately to mind. She is known to collectors as the sculptor who created the obverse design for the 1991 Mount Rushmore commemorative dollar. Her real genius, however, is best reflected in a series of art medals depicting such varied subjects as Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and, most recently, Leonard Bernstein.
The Bernstein piece serves dual purposes. It observes the 75th anniversary of the birth of a man widely regarded as one of the most gifted and versatile American musicians of this century. Had he lived, he would have celebrated his birthday just a few days ago, on Aug. 25. The medal also marks his induction into the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.
The American conductor, pianist and composer was born in Lawrence, Mass., in 1918. He studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute of Music. Fame was thrust upon young Bernstein one fateful night in 1943 when he conducted the New York Philharmonic as a last-minute substitute for Bruno Walter. His credits included the musical scores for “West Side Story” and “On the Town.”
History, however, will remember the conductor as the man who brought music to the masses via television, as host of the New York Philharmonic’s “Young People’s Concerts.”
The medal created by Marika Somogyi serves a worthwhile purpose. Proceeds from the sales benefit both the nonprofit Magnes Museum, home of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, and The Bernstein Education Foundation Through the Arts Fund Inc.
The Bernstein commemorative has been struck in serially numbered editions limited to 1,000 bronze, 500 silver and 50 gold. Further information about availability and cost of the Bernstein medal can be obtained directly from the Magnes Museum, Jewish American Fall of Fame, 2911 Russell St., Berkeley, Calif. 94705.
Originally published by the Los Angeles Time Syndicate – August 29, 1993
A prolific writer, Edward C. Rochette has authored several numismatic books, including The Romance of Coin Collecting, Medallic Portraits of John F. Kennedy and Making Money: Rogues and Rascals Who’ve Made Their Own. For many years, he wrote a weekly coin column nationally syndicated by the Los Angeles Times and a monthly column for COINage magazine, and penned his monthly column The Other Side of the Coin for the ANA’s The Numismatist magazine.