Artist Name

birth8/22/1906, Carrollton, GAPicture of Harris
death1987, Atlanta, GA
educationGeorgia Polytechnic University, B.S. in Architecture (1928),
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (1929-1934),
Teacher at Georgia Tech, Atlanta (1936-1972)
awardsIvan Allen Trophy,
Fine Arts Medal, AIA (1954)

Julian Hoke Harris was born in Georgia where he also spent significant parts of his life. In 1928 he received a B.S. in architecture from Georgia Polytechnic University (Georgia Tech). He then continued his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he studied sculpture. After graduating in 1934 he returned to Atlanta where he spent most of the rest of his life.

Harris opened his own Atlanta studio in 1933. He also started working as a part-time teacher at Georgia Tech's School of Architecture in 1936. He lived virtually on campus, eventually became a full professor, and would spend the next 36 years teaching Architecture there. World War II interrupted his career and he served in the Army Air Corps in the India-Burma theater. Harris and his wife Jean had two daughters, Jean Olivia, known as "Chatty," and Judy Ann, or "Missy," as well as a dachshund named "Hush-Puppy." Harris' wife coined his nick-name "Judy" which somehow stuck.

Over the next four decades he not only taught Architecture but also worked in close association with the architectural firm of Tucker & Howell. His sculptures grace many public and private buildings in Georgia and the Southeast, among them a bronze gate at the Naval Armory, a stained glass window at Brittain Dining Hall, reliefs at the Georgia Agricultural Building and the State Office Building.

While most of his work was architectural in nature, he was also an accomplished medallic artist. Over his lifetime he designed and executed more that twenty medallions, including Georgia Tech's Monie A. Ferst Medal, the bicentennial medal for the state of Georgia, a medal celebrating the Centennial of Andrews Raid (1962), both the 81st and the 40th Anniversary medal in the prestigious Society of Medalists series (1970), a commemorative medal for the Atlanta Public Schools (1972), and President Jimmy Carter's official inaugural medal.

Harris died in 1976.

Sourced from The Rotarian and the Smithsonian Institute.

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

  • Andrews Raid Centennial 1962

    The obverse bears a steam engine. Above, ANDREWS RAID; below, APRIL 12 1862; to right, 1962. Signed below, JULIAN H HARRIS. The reverse bears profile left. Below, CAPTAIN WILLIAM A FULLER.

    During the civil war a civilian spy named James Andrews offered to take a small group Union soldiers across enemy lines to Atlanta to steal a train and run it back up north while destroying telegraph lines and railroad tracks on the way all along the important rail corridor of the Western and Atlantic Railroad . On April 7 1862 he and twenty-two volunteers put the plan in action and started traveling south. On the morning of April 12 they boarded a northbound train and hijacked the engine and three empty boxcars it at Big Shanty, today's Kennesaw.

    Southern railroad men, including William Fuller, pursued them immediately and managed to stay hot on their tracks, thereby denying them the time to perform any meaningful acts of sabotage. Eventually southern forces caught up with the raiders and rounded them up. Eight of the twenty, including Andrews, were executed as spies, the others escaped or were exchanged.

    This medal was commissioned by the Georgia Civil War Centennial Commission and struck by the Medallic Art Company of New York. The mintage is not known.

    Sourced from Davis, Stephen. "Andrews Raid." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 05 June 2014. Web. 04 November 2014.

  • 40th Anniversary Special Issue
    Perpetuating the Ancient Art of Medallic Sculpture
    by Julian Harris

    This medal was chosen to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the prestigious Society of Medalists series. The medal's obverse bears miniature designs of Laura Gardin Fraser's first SOM issue and the then last issue in the series: Boris Buzan's 80th medal in the series. Superimposed, a large 40th; around THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS / ANNIVERSARY ISSUE 1930-1970; signed JHH © 1970. The reverse bears contrasting relief and intaglio Athenian owls with olive sprig, crescent and Greek letters ΑΘΕ; around, within border of circles representing all medals in the series, PERPETUATING THE ART OF MEDALLIC SCULPTURE.

    Julian Hoke Harris won the contest for the special anniversary issue in the same year that he designed the 81st regular issue in the series. It was apparently a competition with a number of strong participants: Tom Allen, Hal Reed, Elbert Weinberg, and Sten Jacobsson all submitted designs which unfortunately have not been retained. Julian Harris wrote about his design:

    "Its unusual shape and motif, symbolic of the Society's efforts for 40 years in the field of medallic art, will make a distinctive addition to your medal collection."

    The Medallic Art Company struck 657 copies of this medal in bronze and 125 in silver.

    77.0mm (3.03in)
    77.0mm (3.03in)
  • Joel Chandler Harris - Uncle Remus 1970
    by Julian Harris
    Red-gold bronze with tan patina

    This medal was chosen as the 81st issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series. The medal's obverse bears Br'er Rabbit trapped by Tar Baby, Br'er Fox at right. Above, UNCLE REMUS; below, HIS SONGS AND HIS SAYINGS; at right, JHH / © 1970. The medal's reverse bears Br'er Rabbit skipping through briars. Below, 1848 JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS 1908.

    Julian Hoke Harris recalls his father's childhood reading of Uncle Remus: His Songs and his Sayings.

    "By honoring Joel Chandler Harris, we are also recognizing the many unnamed story-tellers who have contributed to our heritage."

    The Medallic Art Company struck 1,284 copies of this medal in bronze.

    73.0mm (2.87in)
    Red-gold bronze with tan patina
    SOM-81 Romance Brochure
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Medal1972

    This medal's obverse bears the seal of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Around, SEAL OF THE GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY / 1885

    The reverse bears a collage of images relating to subjects taught at Georgia Tech. At left, signature of George P. Burdell; signed at bottom, JULIAN H HARRIS

    The signature on the reverse refers to George P. Burdell, a fictitious student officially enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1927 as a practical joke. Since then, he has supposedly received all undergraduate degrees offered by Georgia Tech, served in the military, gotten married, and served on Mad magazine's Board of Directors, among other accomplishments. Burdell at one point led the online poll for Time's 2001 Person of the Year award. He has evolved into an important and notorious campus tradition; all Georgia Tech students learn about him at orientation.

    The circular medal measures 76.5mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of New York. No mintage is reported.

    References: MACo 1972-079

  • Centennial of Atlanta Public Schools 1972

    The obverse bears a female teacher behind desk, facing auditorim of students with globe and flipboard; on shield below, THE PAST IS PROLOGUE; above shield, signature JULIAN H HARRIS / 1972. The reverse bears a male teacher at computerized control station in front of students collaborating at lab table, on the floor, and studying in a computer lab. Around, 1872 / ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS / 1972; on shield below, THE FUTURE ONLY WE CAN DETERMINE.

    The medal seems to celebrate the centennial of the Atlanta Public School system and contrasts traditional education with new, technology-enabled modes of education. It is one of the early expressions of the hopes educators put in technology as a means of revolutionizing education.

    Any additional information on this medal would be welcome. Was it handed out to teachers or tied to a celebratory event?

  • Georgia National Bicentennial Celebration Medal 1976

    The obverse bears three figures representing the families of Revolutionary Georgia. Above, TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF; below, DAYS TO REMEMBER; in exergue, 1776 - 1976; signed, JULIAN H HARRIS '76

    The reverse bears hand holding parchment beside tree. Parchment reads THE CON / STITUTION / OF THE / STATE OF / GEORGIA; below, 1777; two rings of text, inner ring, PRO BONO * PUBLICO; outer ring GEORGIA COMMISSION FOR THE / NATIONAL BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION

    The bronze medal measures 37mm in diameter and was struck by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury.

    Jimmy Carter 1977

    The obverse bears Jimmy Carter facing left. Around, JIMMY CARTER; signed in lower right quadrant, JH. The reverse bears the Presidential Seal. Around, 39TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; in two lines below; INAUGURATED / JANUARY 20, 1977.

    The choice of Julian Harris for this medal was probably no accident. Both he and Jimmy Carter hailed from Georgia and Harris probably had a significant advantage if there was a competition at all.

    My photo setup has trouble with highly reflective proof-type silver and gold medals, so please excuse the relatively poor image quality.

    This silver medal was manufactured by the Franklin Mint.

  • 50th Anniversary of Fox Theatre 1979

    The obverse bears several fields with architectural details of the Fox Theatre, including an Egyption scarab in the lowest field. In center, "Fiftieth / Anniversary / of the / Fox / Theatre / 1979" At bottom, signed JULIAN H HARRIS

    The reverse symbolizes the theatre's Arabian architecture through the domes and arches of the building's original entrance on Ponce de Lean Avenue. In exergue, ATLANTA LANDMARKS, INC. / ©

    This medal was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut.

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.
The Rotarian
Nice article with lots of pictures in The Rotarian, November 1964, pp38.

Research Archives and Websites

North Georgia Art Deco
A blog on Art Deco with a great picture of the West Theatre, 1941, Cedartown, a building with Harris sculptures.
Capturing Mid-Twentieth Century Medicine in Art
A blog with a great picture of a Harris sculpture on the wall of Fulton County Health Services, 99 Jesse Hill, Jr. Drive, SE Atlanta, GA 303034.
Beautiful photo of second Harris sculpture on wall of Fulton County Health Services, 99 Jesse Hill, Jr. Drive, SE Atlanta, GA 303034.