Collecting Medals

In his discussion of Series of American Medals, on the website of Medal Collectors of America, Dick Johnson writes: “The first public subscription medal series began with the Circle of Friends of the Medallion (1909-1915). But the grand dame of all American medal series was — and still is — The Society of Medalists (129 medals in all, 1930-1995).” In this category, Dick also lists the medals issued by the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, from 1962 through 1974, and by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, beginning in 1969.

Please note that all of these are “Art Medals,” which generally are larger, have high relief, and have antique patinas (finishes) — as opposed to the shiny coin-size medals issued by the Franklin Mint and their ilk.

So what is the attraction of collecting a series of medals that are issued at the rate of one or perhaps a few each year? Perhaps it is similar to the appeal of popular characters who appear in an author’s book about once a year or a popular movie theme and its sequels. It is the attraction of a familiar theme and style that one likes and looks forward to seeing the latest version. There is also the collecting aspect — where collectors have the desire to maintain a complete set. Whatever the reason, the Jewish-American Hall of Fame has had the benefit of a loyal cadre of collectors who support this project year after year.

Many of these people originally found out about the Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals in coin columns in their local newspapers, like the New York Times, Philadelphia Enquirer, etc. Unfortunately these coin columns in newspapers have all but disappeared. However, numismatic publications have always supported us, and numerous articles have appeared over the years in The Numismatist, Coin World and Numismatic News. More recently our medals have received publicity in e-publications such as E-Sylum and CoinsWeekly.

The easiest way to purchase Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals is to buy them when they are issued; to get on the email list just send a note to If you didn’t have the opportunity of buying Jewish-American Hall of Fame medals when they were issued in the past, you can try to acquire examples that you like or to assemble a complete collection by buying on eBay, at auction, or from dealers. But it is not easy, since mintages are very low — as few as 100 bronze, 55 pure silver, and a minuscule 11 gold. Remember, the fun is in the hunt!

A small inventory of past medals is available in the JAHF Shop.