Artist Name

birth5/23/1881, San Francisco, CaliforniaPicture of Chester A Beach
death8/6/1956, Brewster, New York
educationCalifornia School of Mechanical Arts
Mark Hopkins Institute of Art
École dex Beaux-Arts
Académie Julian
awardsElizabeth N. Watrous Gold Medal, National Academy of Design
Helen Foster Barnett Prize, National Academy of Design
J. Sanford Saltus Award, National Academy of Design
Silver Medal, Panama-Pacific International Exposition
Medalist, Architectural League of New York
The Chicago Art Institute's Potter Palmer Medal
Medalist, National Arts Club
National Sculpture Society's Lindsey Morris Memorial Prize for Bas-Relief Sculpture

Chester A. Beach was born in 1881 in San Francisco, California. He remained there until his early 20's, studying at first the California School of Mechanical Arts and later the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. While continuing his study of art, he supported himself by designing jewelry. In 1903, he lived briefly in New York before continuing on to Paris, France in 1904.

In Paris, he studied at the École dex Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. At the Académie Julian, he studied under renowned French sculptor Raoul Verlet. Upon his return to the United States in 1907, Beach purchased a studio in Manhattan. He maintained this studio for close to fifty years, even when he wasn't in the country.

While in Paris, he had met Eleanor Hollis Murdock, the woman who would become his wife. They were married in 1910 and lived in Rome from 1912 to 1914, when they returned once again to New York. Together, they had three daughters – Beata (a painter), Eleanor (a well known conservationist), and Natalie.

His reputation as an artist and sculptor in America steadily grew after his return from Paris in 1907. He was quite good at bust and profile work, but many of his other works were characterized by an incorporation of mythological and allegorical figures. He was an elected member of the National Sculpture Society (of which he was the president in 1926-7), the Salmagundi Club, and the American Numismatic Society. His first big commission came in 1915, when he submitted three sculptures to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and won a Silver Medal. Over the course of his six-decade career, he designed and engraved a great deal of special edition half-dollars and created busts of famous figures, the most well-known of which are still on view in The Hall of Fame for Great Americans.

In 1917, Beach gave a local farmer two of his sculptures, and received in return 10 acres of land in Brewster, New York. There, he first built a studio for himself. In 1918, he used stones from the property's walls and built his family a home, aptly named "Old Walls." In 1947 he oversaw the building of "The Camp," an additional cottage on the property. Beach lived in Old Walls until his death in 1956. Until 2009, his studio on the property housed a large collection of his work.

Sourced mainly from Wikipedia and articles listed in Resources section.

You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

American Gas Institute Beal Medal1909

This medal's obverse bears female gas spirit rising from ground, holding burning torch; in background, modern gas refinery and storage tank. Across, AMERICAN - GAS / INSTITU - TE / BEAL / MEDAL.

The reverse shows a blank cartouche, torches and laurels. Signed at bottom right, C.BEACH.

The American Gas Institute was an amalgamation of various regional gas light companies that worked on promoting scientific research and technological development to help with the production, distribution and consumption of gas. The Beal Medal was awarded annually to the best research or invention in the Institute's areas of interest.

My copy of this medal is actually in two pieces. Both obverse and reverse are struck in thick medal stock and each has been fitted with two pins in back to hold them on a cardboard base. Apparently, the pieces came from Chester Beach's studio collection and probably represent trial strikes that the artist kept for himself.

This medal measures 50mm in diameter and was struck in bronze and silver by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

American Car & Foundries Medal1918
Sterling Silver
14k Gold

This medal's obverse bears worker about to strike snake on anvil with sledge hammer; howitzer in the background. Around, PRESENTED BY THE AMERICAN CAR AND FOUNDRY COMPANY; below, 1917-1918.

The reverse bears Columbia walking l. with palm frond; Statue of Liberty and sun in distance. On left, FOR SERVICE FAITHFULLY RENDERED; lower right, CB - JK.

The medal was presented to the company's employees for their faithful service during World War I. Accompanying the medal was a card containing the following message from William H. Woodlin, the President of the American Car and Foundry Company:

"The enclosed honor medal is awarded as an evidence of the appreciation by this Company of the work by you on its munition contracts, and as a lasting testimonial of the service rendered by you as an industrial soldier in the winning of the great war."

The signature CB - JK inidicates that the medal was a collaboration between Beach and Kilenyi (maybe design and sculpture) but I did not manage to find any evidence supporting the nature of their collaboration. Any additional evidence or a scan of the enclosed card would be appreciated.

This medal measures 63.5mm in diameter and was struck in bronze, silver, and 14k gold by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence, RI. The silver is very rare and the gold exceedingly rare but the mintages are not reported.

References: Marqusee 52

Treaty of Versailles Medal1919

This medal was the 40th medal officially issued by the American Numismatic Society.

The obverse bears a male astride winged horse, accompanied on sides by personifications of Justice and Peace. To left, JUSTICE with scales and wreath; to right, PEACE with (ANS seal); signed at lower right, (C B monogram)

The reverse shows a view of the Palace of Versailles where the World War I peace treaty was signed. Wreath around circumference. Above, PEACE OF VERSAILLES; on ribbon, 1919; below, THE AMERICAN NUMISMATIC SOCIETY

The medal measures 63mm in diameter and was struck by the Medallic Art Company of New York. The reported mintage is 113 in silver and 318 in bronze.

Many thanks to Brian Holt for the images of the bronze medal.

63mm (2.5in)
63mm (2.5in)
Percy Hammond Medal1928

This uniface medal's bears scroll, inkwell and masks of Comedy and Tragedy. Around, STUDIO OF ACTING, NEW YORK; under masks, PERCY HAMMOND / MEDAL / (CB monogram).

The award was named for Cadiz, Ohio-born Percy Hammond. After starting a journalistic career in Chicago he became an immensely influential theater critic for the New York Herald Tribune. In 1927 he published his only book, a collection of essays on theater titled But - Is It Art? Another anthology of his best writings was published under the title This Atom in the Audience. Hammond died after a brief illness on April 25th, 1936 in New York City.

The medal measures 51.5mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

Father and Sons 1937
by Chester A. Beach
Golden bronze with heavy olive-tan patina
Golden bronze with light tan patina

This medal was chosen as the 16th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series in 1937. The obverse bears five nude youths bearing father's bier. The youngest carries a laurel wreath. Around, IN PEACE SONS BURY THEIR FATHERS; at lower left, BEACH / © 1937. The reverse bears a gaunt father carrying son's body from the battlefield as vultures circle. Around, IN WAR THE FATHERS BURY THEIR SONS.

The brochure which acommpanied the medal had the following words from the artist:

"The tought of the medal is a simple, universal one when men pause to think straight; for that reason I have designed the medal as of no particular period. The Greeks probably put it most tersely, 'In Peace the Sons bury the Fathers, in War the Fathers bury the Sons.' Are our young men to be buried almost before mature manhood, under long rows of stone crosses, or are they to round out their lives and in turn be buried in reverence by their sons in peace? A thought to keep well before our vision as present war clouds again surround us."

Chester Beach put it well but what were the old men and the young men to do when young men far away were being led towards war by their leader?

Struck by the Medallic Art Company of New York, the reported production quantity of this medal is 941 in bronze and 100 in silver.

73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with heavy olive-tan patina
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with light tan patina
73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with very light tan patina
73.0mm (2.87in)
Eugene B. Clark Medal1939

This uniface plaque's obverse bears bust 3/4 right of Eugene Clark. Above, EUGENE B. CLARK; to right, (CB monogram) / MCMXXXIX / N.Y.

Eugene B. Clark was a mechanical engineer who leveraged his metallurgical and business skill into a partnership position in the troubled Chicago-based George R. Rich Manufacturing company. After a year under his management the company was profitable and in 1906 Clark changed the company name to Celfor Tool Company. Having started another company called the Buchanan Electric Steel Company in 1909, Clark merged the two companies in 1916 to form Clark Equipment Company.

Beach was commissioned to create this plaque in 1939, a year that marked the successful recovery from the Depression.

The plaque measures 66mm x 88mm and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

Actors' Fund Medal of Honor, Second Version1958

This medal's obverse bears three draped allegorical female figures, the rightmost holding a mask. On left and right of figures, ACTORS' - FUND / JUNE 8 1882; signed at lower right, BEACH

The medal's reverse bears the traditional masks of tragedy and comedy. Incuse around top, ACTORS' FUND OF AMERICA; dated and inscribed to recipient at bottom, AUGUST 6, 1964 / FLOYD W. STOKER

The edge is marked with MEDALLIC ART CO. N.Y.

The Actors' Fund Medal was inaugurated on May 9, 1910 when it was first presented to President William Howard Taft. The award was revived in 1958, and since 1992, when Shubert Organization President Bernard B. Jacobs was recognized, the award has been presented at an annual fundraising gala in New York City. Since then, leading actors and organizations have been recognized with this high honor which is awarded to individuals and organizations that enrich the entertainment community.

In 1964 the award went to three recipients: Angus Duncan, Zero Mostel and Floyd W. Stoker. This particular medal was awarded to Floyd W. Stoker.

The original medal bore the legend NEW YORK / 1910 on the obverse. It was only awarded once in 1910 and then never again. There has been some controversy whether the original medal was co-issued with the American Numismatic Society because a tiny ANS seal can be found on the medal's obverse. However, there is no documentation that supports that this medal was an ANS issue.

The medal measures 70mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

This section has yet to be written.

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

New York Times article
A New York Times article about Beach's medal being accepted by the American Numismatic Society.
AskART biographical facts
Quick facts about Beach, including where he has most notably been displayed.
A more in depth examination of Beach's artistic life.