You can click medals to switch between obverse and reverse sides.
This medal was chosen as the 86th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series. The obverse bears a Chilkat chieftain in ceremonial headdress composed of carved wood frontispiece overlaid with pelts, topped with feathers and walrus whiskers. At right, vertical incuse CHILKAT; below collar, SVENSON 72 ©
The reverse bears Tlingit house post depicting the String Boy legend; Cannibal mask on left, Bear Dance mask on right; Diving Whale blanket behind. Above, TLINGIT INDIANS; below, ALASKA.
The Chilkat were a warlike Tlingit tribe that became wealthy by trading furs with their Russian and American neighbors. Svenson was a trustee for Alaska Indian Arts in Port Chilkoot, Alaska, and deeply familiar with Native American Arts of the Northwest. His medal was the third issue of the Society of Medalists that had a Native American theme: Hermon MacNeil's Hopi and Allan Houser's Apache Fire Dance were the other two.
The obverse shows flock of abstract sea birds soaring.
The reverse bears image of home office in Los Angeles, California. Above, PIERCE NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY; below, HOME OFFICE / LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
The edge contains maker's mark at 6:00: MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.
The Pierce National Life Insurance Company completed the construction of its office building in Los Angeles in 1972 and this is probably the event commemorated by this medal.
I am not certain that John Svenson is the designer, but he is the only sculptor I find mentioned in connection with the Pierce National Life Insurance Company (the National Sculpture Society's bio for Svenson makes the connection). It is very possible that the obverse design is based on one of Svenson's sculptures. Any confirmation on the designer and the year of origin would be deeply appreciated.
The medal measures 76mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company.
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