The Scher Collection of Commemorative Medals

GBP £199.95



ISBN: 978-1-907804-87-8

656 Pages

292 x 229 mm (9 x 11 ½ in)

1,830 colour

In association with The Frick Collection, New York

April 2019


“Stands as a testament to an exceptional collector; the record of a superlative collection of commemorative medals that rivals the princely collections of old”—Robert Wellington, The Medal

“The portrait medals that were collected, prized, and now documented in this book prove their staying power, both in material and affect”—David Masello, Sculpture

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The Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher Collection is considered the world’s greatest private collection of portrait medals, rivalling many collections in international museums. This fully illustrated catalogue documenting the Scher Collection is an essential resource for scholars, students, collectors, and curators.

Portrait medals were developed during the Italian Renaissance and are central to the history of European portraiture, flourishing as an art form through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Though less familiar to us now than painting and sculpture, these exquisitely crafted objects, typically made from lead, bronze, silver or gold, were produced (sometimes in large numbers) to commemorate individuals, to acknowledge special events, and to disseminate the identity and power of their sitters.

The study of the portrait medal has become, through the work of Stephen Scher and others, a burgeoning area of new scholarship. Excellent reproductions of all medals to size, with details of obverse, reverse and full captions, are accompanied by scholarly essays, interesting facts and historical references in this important new volume.

Author biographies

Stephen K. Scher, a world-renowned scholar of art history, began collecting portrait medals as a graduate student at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where he earned his Master’s degree. After completing his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1966, he went on to teach art history at Brown University, serving as chairman of the art department from 1972–73. He has organized two landmark exhibitions with The Frick Collection, NY, on the art of the portrait medal: The Currency of Fame (1994) and The Proud Republic: Dutch Medals of the Golden Age (1997).

Christopher Eimer is British medal specialist, collector and dealer. He is the author of British Commemorative Medals and Their Values (1987, 2010), and An Introduction to Commemorative Medals (1989).

Martin Hirsch is a lecturer, Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and editor of Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte (Journal of Numismatics and Monetary History)

Mark Jones is Master of St. Cross College, University of Oxford, and one-time director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Jan Pelsdonk is curator of the Coin and Medal Collection, Teylers Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands

Marie-Astrid Pelsdonk is general secretary, International Art Medal Federation, and former curator, Royal Coin Cabinet, Stockholm

Ulrich Pfisterer is a professor and chair, Art History Department, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Table of Contents

  1. Director’s Foreword and  Acknowledgments
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Contributors
  4. Introduction — Hunting the Wild Aftercast: Confessions of a Medal Collector by Stephen K. Scher
  5. Note to the Reader
  6. ITALY. Art at Its Apex: The Medals of Italy by Ulrich Pfisterer
  7. GERMANY. A Handy Mirror for Princes and Citizens: The Rise and Dissemination of Medals in Germany by Martin Hirsch
  8. FRANCE. “Proof Stones of History”: The Medal in France, 1400–1900 by Mark Jones
  9. NETHERLANDS. Perspectives in Metal: A History of Medals of the Low Countries by Jan Pelsdonk
  10. ENGLAND. Illustrating an Island Nation: The Medals of Britain by Christopher Eimer
  11. RUSSIA AND SCANDINAVIA. The Tale of the Elephant, the Lion, the Dragon and Other Extinct Animals; or The Early History of Medallic Art in Denmark, Sweden, and Russia by Marie-Astrid Pelsdonk
  13. Artist Biographies
  14. Bibliography
  15. Index
  16. Photograph Credits