This medal was chosen as the 29th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series in 1944. The obverse bears herm-type male bust facing upward against massive stylized wings. Around, ALL - PASSES ART ALONE ENDURING STAYS TO US; in lower left field, THE BUST / OUTLASTS / THE / THRONE; in exergue, THE COIN TIBERIUS; at left, incuse, R.H.RECCHIA / ©
The reverse bears nude youth leaping with outstretched arms into starry sky; hills clouds, and rays in background. Around, TOO LOW THEY BUILD WHO - BUILD BENEATH THE STARS
This medal is one of the two war-time SOM medals that were originally struck in silver because copper was largely dedicated to war needs. Apparently, 57 50mm-diameter pieces were struck in bronze but even long-time collectors have not seen any. Some were later struck in the 1970's.
Recchia drew his own inspiration for this medal from poetry, namely Austin Dobson's "Ars Victrix' for the quotes on the obverse and Edward Young's "Night Thoughts" on the reverse. Recchia wrote in the brochure accompanying the medal:
"The bust ... shows the man's mind stretching upwards, to and beyond the flight of the wings of imagination and passing time and depicting man's dreams of seeking higher realms of inspiration."
Recchia's combined message was devoid of war-time propaganda and very humanistic at its core. Or maybe the very fact that it was so humanistic made it a very effective war-time message for an audience that was fighting for the survival of western civilization.
On a personal note, this is the medal that inspired me to become a medal collector when I first saw it on display at the Yale University Art Gallery. To this day, it remains one of my favorite art medals.
This medal was first produced in 50mm and was struck in silver by the Medallic Art Company of New York. OVerall, the reported production quantity of this medal is 891 small-diameter silver, 57 small-diameter bronze, 150 large-diameter bronze, and 100 large-diameter silver.