Artist Name

birth2/17/1915, Opatija, Austria-HungaryPicture of Boris Buzan
deathMarch 1982, Laguna Beach, CA
educationNational Academy School of Fine Arts, New York

Boris Buzan was born in Opatija, in the Austro-Hungarian province of Istria, which was awarded to Italy after World War I and conveyed to Yugoslavia after World War II. Italian oppression of the Slovene inhabitants drove him to the United States in 1930, and he soon became a citizen. He studied at the National Academy's School of Fine Arts in New York City and was guided by such sculptors as Sidney Waugh, Paul Manship, Walker Hancock, Charles Hinton, Ivan Olinsky, and Ivan Meštrović.

He created designs and covers for Collier's and Life magazines and served as translator in the World War II Office of Censorship in New York City where he met his future wife, Pauline Shubel. After the war, he moved to Laguna Beach, California, to work in the art department of David O. Selznick at RKO-Pathé Studios. Boris and Pauline got married at the San Juan Capistrano Mission on February 17, 1945. They had three children. Buzan was a regular exhibitor at the Festival of Arts where the family could be found most summer evenings. The Buzans owned restaurants twice and tried out many different activities. Later in life, Buzan excelled in ceramic art as well as the medal. He created many public murals of which only one appears to have survived.

There is not much information available about Boris Buzan's life, artistic or personal. If you know anything about him that we have not been able to find, we would love to hear it!

Sourced mainly from American Art Medals by David Thomason Alexander and the listed resources.

You can click medals to switch between obverse and reverse sides.

  • Apollo 11 Moon Landing 1969
    by Boris Buzan
    Red-gold bronze with tan patina

    This design by Borja was chosen as the 80th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series. The obverse bears a raised central field surrounding a recessed irregular five-sided window into the Apollo control room showing its staff; superimposed is a high-relief keeled "V" shape lined with human figures. Around, MAN'S EVER EXPANDING SPHERE OF EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND VISION; at lower edge of window, (BB monogram) © 1969.

    The reverse bears Neil Armstrong about to step onto the Moon's surface. Around central field, NEIL ARMSTRONG - EDWIN E. ALDRIN JR. - MICHAEL COLLINS; at left, APOLLO 11; around, LEADS TO MAN'S ETERNAL QUEST OF SPACE EXPLORATION.

    Buzan chose to highlight the "groundlings'" role on his obverse. The ground crew, the engineers, the scientists, as well as the public (represened by the many people on the "V") had a role to play. Without everyone's support, a project of this magnitude would not have been possible. Buzan's enthusiasm and optimism is representative of an entire generation that grew up with mankind tackling ever larger problems successfully and expanding its reach to areas previously deemed in the realm of science fiction. As it turned out, public support for the space program waned and eventually mankind's sphere of vision contracted again.

    The medal measures 73mm in diameter. Struck by the Medallic Art Company of New York, the reported production quantity of this medal is 1,061 in bronze.

    73.0mm (2.87in)
    Red-gold bronze with tan patina
    SOM-80 Romance Brochure
  • Ceramic Mural in Laguna Beach Vault

    Ceramic Mural, Detail (1950s)

    A ceramic mural depicting scenes of a family applying for a home loan and a home under construction.

    This mural was recently (2014) unearthed while a building at 222 Ocean Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA, was rehabilitated. The building used to house the Laguna Federal Savings Bank, run by Lorna Mills, one of the first women to run a federally chartered bank. She was a patron of the local arts and commissioned Boris Buzan to create a mural with scenes from her industry. At the time, Buzan created many ceramic murals for public buildings in his home town but this is the only one known to have survived.
    Image from the Laguna Beach Independent.

Contact me if you have links that might merit inclusion on this page.

Books & Articles

American Art Medals, 1909-1995 by David Thomason Alexander
David T. Alexander's book can be purchased at the above link. Highly recommended for anyone interested in SOM. I am deeply indebted to him for all the information I used to document the SOM medals on this site.

Research Archives and Websites

Obituary of Pauline Shubel Buzan
Published in the Laguna Beach Independent, 2/22/2013.
Excavating a Vault in Laguna's History
Article about the preservation of one of Buzan's ceramic murals.