Artist Name

birth1924, Buzeu, RomaniaPicture of Kaufman
educationFine Arts Academy, Rome
awardsJames McNeill Whistler Award

Miko, or Mico, Kaufman was born in Romania between the two World Wars. He dabbled in the arts growing up, trying drawing, sculpture, and music. His father encouraged him to follow his famous and wealthy cousin, Louis Kaufman, and become a violinist. Yet even his father could see the quality of young Miko's artwork and proudly showed it off to anyone who was willing to view it.

During World War II, Miko endured three years in a concentration camp where he was forced to dig trenches. At the end of the war he traveled to Rome where he attempted to gain admission to the Fine Arts Academy. He only had one portfolio piece, a carving he had made years earlier from his uncle's broken ebony cane. As luck would have it, the man he spoke to was the Head of the Sculpture Department and Miko Kaufman was admitted on the strength of the one carving he had managed to bring with him.

He also studied in Florence before emigrating to the United States in 1951 where he quickly became known for his medallic works. He worked freelance for the Medallic Art Company, designing the models in his studio and then mailing them to the Medallic Art Company' production facilities. Occasionally, the president of MACO would fly his propeller plane to the little airport in Tewksbury, Massachusetts to visit Miko Kaufman. Over the years, Miko Kaufman designed more than 300 medals for Medallic Art Company, including 192 medals for the American Bicentennial and the Judaic Heritage series. Kaufman described this work as a positive experience that lead to other work.

One of his most prestigious commissions was the design of the National Medal of Technology. He had been invivted together with a handful of other medallic sculptors, to participate in a competition for the design and sculpture of the medal that was to be the equivalent of the Nobel prize for technology. Kaufman's design won the competition by unanimous vote.

He is recipient of many artistic awards. Among them is one from the American Numismatic Society which includes these words: "For his great ability to humanize the official and to universalize the personal."

A resident of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, Miko's art is on display throughout the United States and Europe. Some of his most inspiring public works are in Tewksbury and Lowell.

Miko has said: "If you should notice one of my public sculptures, I would like you to stop and ponder on its subject. The pause might refresh, inform, and even inspire. My work reflects on the bonds that substantiate our humanity."

Sourced mainly from Wikipedia and the National Sculpture Society.

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

  • Youth - War and Sacrifice 1973
    by Miko Kaufman
    Smooth golden bronze with light tan patina

    This design by Miko Kaufman was chosen as the 87th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series. The medal's obverse bears a guitar playing youth with long hair. The reverse bears a soldier in uniform bearing a fallen or wounded comrade on his shoulder.

    This medal uses the two sides to highlight the split that ran deep through American society in the 1970's. The Vietnam war had polarized society and alternative culture, symbolized by the guitar-playing youth on the obverse, was at odds with mainstream culture, symbolized by the soldier rescuing a wounded comrade on the reverse.

    Kaufman wrote in the brochure that accompanied the medal:

    "As a whole, this artist's timely message and reminder to those who care to reflect, as we are pulling out of the Vietnam morass, that all our knowledge and philosophy has yet to help tame mankind's worst enemy—man, himself."

    The medal measures 73mm in diameter and was produced by the Medallic Art Company of New York. Its reported mintage is 1,700 pieces in bronze and 175 in silver. This was the first new issue for which both bronze and silver medals were offered.

    73.0mm (2.87in)
    Smooth golden bronze with light tan patina
    73.0mm (2.87in)
  • Jimmy Carter Presidential Inauguration1977

    This commissioned medal's shows Jimmy Carter facing right. Top left circumference, JIMMY CARTER; below to right, signed Miko K. The reverse bears stars and wreath. In center field, INAUGURATED / 39th PRESIDENT / OF THE / UNITED STATES / OF AMERICA / JANUARY 20, / 1977.

    Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States. This medal was not the official inauguration medal but Miko Kaufman created a really beautiful likeness of Carter for this medal and it deserves to be included in this list.

    This medal was struck by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, CT in bronze, silver, and goldplated silver.

  • Arthur Fiedler1978

    This commissioned medal's shows Arthur Fiedler facing right. Top right circumference, ARTHUR FIEDLER; Arthur Fiedler's signature in bottom right quadrant; below, signed Miko K. The reverse bears the Boston Symphony's crest. In center field, BOSTON / SYMPHONY / ORCHESTRA / 1978.

    Arthur Fiedler was the long-time director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a symphony orchestra that specializes in popular and light classical music.

  • Boston Jubilee 3501980

    The medal's obverse bears a bearded pilgrim over modern Boston skyline. Across at top, "Boston Jubilee"; below, 350; signed MK

    The reverse holds a mosaic of Boston sites and landmarks, including the State House, the Bunker Hill monument, North Church, a Swan boat, and the half shell.

    The medal was struck by Monnaie de Paris in an edition of 9,500 solid bronze pieces.

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

Mico's website
Mico Kaufman's website
National Sculpture Society
An interview with the artist.