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McGovern Medical Medallions Ready for Research

MS 200 Tray 1 McGovern Medical Medallions including Sigmund Freud and Marie Curie.

by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian.

Attention numismatists, exonumists, historians of medicine, and lovers of all things McGovern! Your friendly neighborhood archivists are proud to announce the availability of the MS 200 John P. McGovern Medical Medallions Collection.

This collection consists of medallions commemorating people, conferences, and other events in the history of medicine.  While many of the these were produced as commemorative items in the 1960s and 1970s, others date back as far as the late 1700s. Collected by John P. McGovern, these medallions came to us by way of the McGovern Foundation.

More than half of the collection consists of medallions from the Great Men of Medicine Art Medals series. The collection has two complete sets—50 in silver and 50 in bronze. These were sculpted by Abram Belskie and distributed by Presidential Art Medals, Inc. of Vandalia, Ohio, from 1969 to 1974. This commemorative series also includes pamphlets describing the medallions and the accomplishments of the figures portrayed.

The big names presented in this series range from Hippocrates of Cos to Ivan Pavlov. We have to break it to you that Marie Curie is the lone woman represented in the series. While no TMC figures made the cut (surely if there’s a second edition!), there are several names that we’re used to hearing around here. William Osler has his own section within our McGovern Rare Book Collection on the History of Medicine. The McGovern Collection also features first editions of Andres Veaslius’ Anatomica and Edward Jenner’s 1798 treatise on smallpox inoculation. Meanwhile, there are plenty of Sigmund Freud’s works in the Menninger Rare Book Collection on Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis.

 

Medallions #16-3, Great Men of Medicine Series, newly rehoused. William Osler is featured on the medallion in the lower righthand corner. [IC200 Tray 2, John P. McGovern Medical Medallions, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library]
Medallions #16-30, Great Men of Medicine Series, newly rehoused. William Osler is featured on the medallion in the lower righthand corner. [IC200 Tray 2, John P. McGovern Medical Medallions, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library]

Other modern medallions come from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at New York University, and include physicians such as Walter Reed, William Thomas Green Morton, and Oliver Wendell Holmes (whose bookshelves adorn our reading room!). There are also medals issued for the Medical Library Association’s Seventy-fifth Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota in June of 1976.
Oliver Wendell Holmes. [Medallion #108, MS 200, John P. McGovern Medical Medallions, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library]
Oliver Wendell Holmes. [Medallion #108, MS 200, John P. McGovern Medical Medallions, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library]

Bookshelves in the MHC Reading Room "From the Library of Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D., 296 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts."
Bookshelves in the MHC Reading Room “From the Library of Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D., 296 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts.”
Then there are the historical medallions. These range in dates from at least 1773 to 1971, though many of them are undated. While many of these also recognize physicians or scientists, there are also others dedicated to various milestones in medicine. For example, several recognize hospitals supported by Queen Victoria and Price Albert, whereas others were coined for particular medical associations or conferences.
Medallions #136-150, historical medallions, newly rehoused. Featuring Charing Cross Hospital, London; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (1846), Johns Hopkins Hospital 50th Anniversary (1939), the 2nd Pan-American Scientific Congress in Washington, D.C. (1915-1916), and others. [MS 200 Tray 13, John P. McGovern Medical Medallions, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library]
Medallions #136-150, historical medallions, newly rehoused. Featuring Charing Cross Hospital, London; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (1846), Johns Hopkins Hospital 50th Anniversary (1939), the 2nd Pan-American Scientific Congress in Washington, D.C. (1915-1916), and others. [MS 200 Tray 13, John P. McGovern

Changing up our usual paper, photograph, and digital processing routine, finding appropriate housing for these three-dimensional objects (ok, just barely three-dimensional) required ordering special trays, and carefully ensconcing each coin in tissue paper. This approach gives us just the right mix of preservation and readiness for display.