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Edgar W. Smith & The 1929 General Motors Export Company Managing Directors’ Conference Medal

Edgar W. Smith & The 1929 General Motors Export Company Managing Directors’ Conference Medal

“… at this conference.”

– The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone (MAZA)

1928 photograph of Edgar W. Smith inscribed to his boss and mentor James D. Mooney. (Photo courtesy of BSIArchivalHistory.org)

If there was a Mount Rushmore for the greats of the Baker Street Irregulars, Edgar W. Smith would probably be one of the four chosen to be immortalized.

In 1935, Smith would start a correspondence with Vincent Starrett and would learn of the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI). Finally, in August 1938, Smith would reach out to the founder of the BSI, Christopher Morley, and initiated correspondence that would continue until Morley’s death. In early 1939, Smith and Morley, joined by BSI member William S. Hall, would have lunch. Smith handled himself well and was made a member of the BSI at that luncheon.

At the time of that luncheon, the BSI had not met for three years.But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. This post deals with something that occurred 10 years earlier, in 1929 just before the Memorial Day weekend – the General Motors Export Co. Managing Directors Conference.

Buckwood Inn
Shawnee-On-Delaware, PA

The New York Times  of May 19, 1929 reported that the managers of the General Motors Export Company from all over the world will meet at the Buckshead Inn in Shawnee-On-Delaware, Pennsylvania.  The article went on to report that “Edgar W. Smith, assistant to the president, will discuss the organization and operating principles of the export division.”  Smith had begun working for GM after returning from World War I in 1919. We bring this up as there happens to be an attractive medal from this conference.

Medal photographs courtesy of Paul J. Bosco

OBVERSE: At center are two world globes bound together with a banner inscribed GENERAL MOTORS EXPORT CO. Below is a riband with the engraved name, W. G. GUTHRIE. At left, is a robed female figure holding a lit torch in her extended left hand. At right, is another standing robed female figure holding a spoked wheel in her extended hand

REVERSE: At center, is a circle enclosed by a wreath in which the legend reads: BUCKWOOD INN – SHAWNEE – ON – THE – DELAWARE above a radiant lamp of Learning. In the exergue, MANAGING DIRECTORS/ CONFERENCE/ MAY 22-30-1929. At left, is a series of city skyscrapers and below, a suspension bridge with ships passing beneath it. On the right, a dirigible in the sky above the Eiffel Tower. Below is a depiction of the Sphinx, a camel with rider, the Taj Mahal and several 1920’s era sedans.

Rectangular, 62 x 89.6 mm, Bronze

The medal’s design was sculpted by Jeno Juzko, who sculpted a portrait plaque of Edgar Allan Poe that we discussed in an earlier post. In addition to the medal, above, engraved with Guthrie’s name, there is another medal engraved with the name of W. T. Whalen, a vice president with GM’s export division per the New York Times article, that was auctioned off (lot 554) in Presidential Coin & Antiques Auction 81 in 2011. In describing the lot, cataloger Joe Levine stated: “There are a significant number of different General Motors Corporation medals. This must be among the rarest. It is the first we have encountered.”

The New York Times article of May 19, 1929 stated that “Saturday night there will be a banquet at which executive of the General Motors Corporation and the heads of the General Motor divisions in the United States will be present in addition to the overseas executives.” This would be May 25th, and it seems that this would be the logical time to present the attendees with these medals.

With Edgar W. Smith being a “rising star” within the company and having given a presentation on the organization and operating principles of the export division, it seems logical that he would have attended the banquet on Saturday night.  If this theory is correct, somewhere out there is one of these medals engraved with the name E. W. SMITH.

Let the search begin!

 

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