Artist Name


birth6/12/1871, Šiauliai, LithuaniaPicture of V.D. Brenner
death4/5/1924, New York
parents
educationThe Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Académie Julian
awardsAwarded at the Paris Exposition of 1900
American Numismatic Society Saltus Medal Award, 1922

Victor David Brenner was born in a small Lithuanian village, Šiauliai, in 1871. From his father, a seal engraver, he learned to work with gems and metals. At 19, Brenner left Lithuania and immigrated to New York, where he supported himself using the skills his father taught him. There are rumors that upon his immigration, he changed his name from Viktoras Barnauskas to the more American Victor Brenner. He took night classes at Cooper Union, where he furthered his artistic mastery of the craft.

In 1989, Brenner moved to France to study under Oscar Roty, an established medalist, at the Académie Julian. While there, he showed at the Paris Exposition of 1900 and was awarded for his work. Brenner was fluent in English and French, as well as his native Lithuanian.

When he returned to America, he came back as a more proven artist himself. His commissioned work was noticed and appreciated, leading to more sophisticated clientele. In his New York Studio, Theodore Roosevelt sat for him often and the two developed a relationship. In honor of the hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to do something in his honor. Lincoln was one of Brenner's personal heroes, and he had previously designed a bas-relief medallion based off Matthew Brady's famed Cooper Union Portrait. Roosevelt was impressed with the medal and convinced Brenner to submit a similar design for a penny to the Mint. The first iteration of the design contained Brenner's full name, but the director of the Mint convinced him to merely use his initials. As seen on the right, the penny had his initials between the two pieces of wheat. Within the first year of its circulation, however, many took offense to the prominent placement of the artists’ initials (despite precedence found in both European and American coinage). Due to protest, circulation of the "VDB" penny was halted after approximately 27 million were released. The updated design at first featured no initials, but in 1918 was revised to include a much smaller set on Lincoln's shoulder. Today, due to its short-lived circulation, the original "VDB" penny design is considered rare and sought after by many collectors. The updated design is still produced and used today.

Victor David Brenner died only 52 years old. His legacy includes over 125 different medals, badges and plaques as well as sculptures, such as the "Song of Nature" which sits on the fountain in Schenely Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Brenner's works regularly command prices that are about 30% higher than comparable medallic collectibles.

Sourced mainly from Wikipedia.



You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

William Augustus Muhlenberg Medal1896
by Victor D. Brenner
ANS-10.1
Bronze with saddle-brown patina

This is the 10th medal issued by the American Numismatic Society.

The obverse bears bust of Dr. Muhlenberg, right. To left, reading upwards, WILLIAM AVGVSTVS / MVHLENBERG D.D.; to right, reading upwards, FOVNDER OF ST. LVKE'S / HOSPITAL; signed along rim at lower right, V.D.BRENNER N.Y.

The reverse bears seal of hospital over branches of palm and oak to right. Seven-line inscription across center left, THE AMERICAN / NUMISMATIC AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL / SOCIETY / COMMEMORATES BY THIS MEDAL / THE OPENING OF THE NEW / ST. LVKE'S HOSPITAL / MDCCCXCVI

The medal commemorates the opening of the new St. Luke's Hospital building in New York City. St. Luke's Hospital was founded in 1858 by Dr. William Muhlenberg, an Episcopalian clergyman, as a private hospital. In 1896 it relocated from its original site at 5th Avenue and 54th Street to Amsterdam Avenue and 113th Street. In 1979 St. Luke's merged with Roosevelt Hospital.

Victor David Brenner cut the dies for this medal (his first for the ANS) by hand. The reported mintage for this medal is 1 piece in gold, 10 in silver, and 89 in bronze.

Photographers Association of America 1897
VDB-PA
Bronze with brown patina

This uniface medal's obverse bears standing Columbia holding laurel branch in left hand, magnifying glass in right; Sun's rays emerging enhanced through magnifier; to left, winding banner reading LIGHT / UNITES / SCIENCE / & / ART; to right, artist's palette and chemical vessel; below, likeness of Louis Daguerre. Around, PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA; to right of figure, 1897; below, to left and right of Daguerre, LOUIS - DAGUERRE; at end of winding banner, crudely incused, R.STOLL NY.; below, in tiny letters, .D.BRENNER NY.

The otherwise blank reverse bears issuer's mark ROBERT STOLL / N.Y. / 19 JOHN ST.

The medal celebrates the father of photography, Louis Daguerre, as well as photography itself as a union of science and art. Louis Daguerre, building on work by countryman Joseph-Nicephore Nipce, had developed a process that allowed the relatively reliable and inexpensive creation of "daguerrotypes". In 1839 the French government awarded pensions to both Daguerre and Nipce's son and they published the process to make it available almost free of restrictions. Thus, the field of photography was born.

By 1897 the old Daguerrotype had already been defeated by newer, less expensive technologies. The 1850's saw the arrival of inexpensive ambrotypes, quick tintypes, and paper prints from glass negatives. In the late 1860's, inventors Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros unveiled their nearly identical ideas for making full-color prints on paper. Yet the field was still young and certainly not easily accessible to the wider public. In the late 19th century, photography was still a developing field, both artistically and in terms of science and engineering, and the medal acknowledges this perfectly.

This medal is somewhat crowded but nevertheless attractive due to its heavy ornamentation and whimsical lettering. In 1897 Victor David Brenner worked as a die cutter for the New York seal and die maker, Robert Stoll. Under Stoll's employment, he produced dozens of medals, including the Society of Cincinnati Medal, the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer Jubilee Medal, a Beethoven Medal, and at least six athletic, award medals.

The medal measures 54mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by Robert Stoll of New York.

Prince Henry of Prussia Medal1902
by Victor David Brenner
ANS-14.2
Silver

This medal is the 14th official issue of the American Numismatic Society.

The obverse bears bust of Prince Henry of Prussia, l. Around, ISSVED BY THE AMERICAN NVMISMATIC AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY / NEW YORK FEBRVARY 1902 ; signed over shoulder to right of bust, V.D.BRENNER

The reverse bears god Mercury riding on a cloud, bearing fruits, flowers and a caduceus; German and American flags to the right. Around, TO COMMEMORATE THE VISIT OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE HENRY OF PRVSSIA; signed at 5:00, V.D.BRENNER

In 1902 Prince Henry of Prussia visited the United States to take delivery of a schooner yacht for his brother, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. The yacht was christened Meteor III by Alice Roosevelt on February 25, 1902.

While the idea for the medal came from the ANS' Edward Dean Adams, Victor David Brenner himself underwrote the issue, accepting all the risk with the exception of the material cost of the four pieces struck in gold. He graciously allowed the ANS to sell as many silver pieces as it could and retain all the profit thereof.

The circular medal measures 69mm in diameter. The mintage is reported as 4 pieces in gold, 301 in silver, 2 in copper and 1 in aluminum.

Carl Schurz - Immigrant in America 1907
VDB-CS
Bronze with brown patina

This plaquette's obverse bears standing three-quarter portrait of Schurz. Above shoulder on left, CARL SCHURZ / 1829 - 1906; on pedestal at bottom right VBI / LIBERTAS / IBI / PATRIA; signed and dated at right bottom corner (VDB monogram) / 1907.

The reverse bears allegorical figure of America with arm raised leading an eager immigrant onward; radiant sun at right edge. Signed at top left, V.D.BRENNER Sc.

The plaquette celebrates Carl Schurz (1829-1906), a naturalized German who rose to prominence in military service and politics. Schurz was born in Erftstadt, Germany, where he grew up to be a revolutionary fighting for the republic against the Prussian army. He had to flee Germany and eventually ended up in the United States in 1852.

He settled in Wisconsin and quickly became involved in the anti-slavery movement. An outspoken member of the Republican party, he was appointed Minister to Spain by Lincoln. During the Civil War he rose to the rank of Major General and fought in the battles of Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Chattanooga.

After the Civil War he served as Senator, Secretary of the Interior and President of the Civil Service Reform League. He was also editor of the New York Post. He is still remembered for his oft-cited quotation:

"Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong to be put right."

The plaquette measures 54.7mm x 76.4mm (2.25" x 3"). The U.S. Mint struck 150 pieces in bronze.

Abraham Lincoln Birth Centennial 1909
VDB-AL
Bronze

This medal's obverse bears portrait of Abraham Lincoln facing right. To left and right of bust, 1809 - 1909

The reverse bears small eagle about to take flight from ragged cliff with waves crashing against base; sun breaking through clouds at top left. At center left, PRESERVE PROTECT / DEFEND; signed above waves at right edge, V.D.Brenner

This beautiful medal can probably be regarded as the model from which the famous Lincoln cent was created. I have only ever seen this medal traded once and bidding on eBay was fierce.

The medal has a diameter of 62.5mm and was struck in bronze.

Desmond Fitzgerald Medal 1910
VDB-BSCE
Bronze

This medal's obverse bears three robed female figures, two seated ones flanking standing one in the middle. In exergue, incuse inscription: DESMOND FITZGERALD MEDAL / INSTITUTED 1910

The reverse bears laurel branches behind ninscribed cartouche at bottom. Around, BOSTON SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS; in center field, AWARDED / FOR BEST ESSAY / IN ENGINEERING / TO

This beautiful medal was commissioned by Desmond Fitzgerald, a past President of the Society, to honor the author of the best paper published by a member of the Society during the year ending in the month of September. He donated the tidy sum of $2,000 to fund the medal. He reasoned that a medal wold be the best form for such a prize because the prize should be valued not for its intrinsic worth but solely as

"a testimonial that the holder of it has contributed something which his fellow members consider of great value to the engineering profession also that the evidence of having received such an award will be more available and less likely to be deposited where it can seldom be seen if the medal is of bronze rather than of precious metal."

The medal has a diameter of 76.3mm and was struck in bronze by the U.S. Mint. Mint records indicate that 18 pieces were struck at the order of Brenner in November of 1911.

References: Hahlo 44, 60

The Rowfant Club John Hay Medal 1912
VDB-RFC
Bronze

This medal's obverse bears bust of John Hay facing left. At top, JOHN HAY; along bottom, THE ROWFANT CLVB CLEVELAND OHIO; signed to right of shoulder, V.D.Brenner / 1912

The reverse bears seated female figure studying partially unrolled map of China coastline, globe with Pacific ocean and the Americas on desk, books strewn on floor. Around top, OPEN DOOR IN THE FAR EAST

The Rowfant Club was founded in 1892 by members who were "interested in primarily the critical study of books in their various capacities to please the mind of man." Membership was by invitation only.

John Hay was chosen as the subject of this medal because he was a famous diplomat and statesman and a native of Cleveland himself. He had been an honorary member of the Rowfant Club and had died in 1905 after a productive life in public service.

This medal was a gift of Ambrose Swasey, an industrialist and past President of the Rowfant Club of Cleveland, Ohio. Swasey engaged Brenner to create a medal for the Rowfant Club that would be handed to every member upon admission. Swasey obviously liked Brenner's work as he commissioned another medal a few years later to celebrate his company's 40th anniversary.

The medal measures 77mm in diameter and was struck in bronze. A mintage of 170 numbered pieces has been reported.

References: Marqusee 93, Smedley 94

George Bailey Hopson Medal 1913
VDB-GBH
Bronze

This plaquette's obverse bears shoulder-length portrait of George Bailey Hopson facing left with inscription in exergue, GEORGE . BAILEY . HOPSON . D. D.
Signed at top right, V.D.Brenner

The reverse bears inscription at left with the "Well of Knowledge" at right and palm and laurel branches beneath, FOR / FIFTY YEARS / PROFESSOR / OF LATIN / AT ST. STEPHENS / COLLEGE / 1863 - 1913; signed at bottom right with (VDB monogram)

The plaquette celebrates George Bailey Hopson (1838-1916) who was born into a family of clergymen. His father was the rector at St. Machael's Church at Naugatuck and his great grandfather had been rector at the Christ Church of Derby, Connecticut. It came as no surprise that he also pursued the ministry and was ordained as a deacon in 1863. An accident forced him to give up his work and after recovering he accepted a position at St. Stephen's College in Annandale, New York. He would be teaching Latin there for the next fifty years and greatly influence two full generations of students in the Classics and Literature.

The plaquette measures 56mm x 77mm.

The New Chivalry 1912 - 1914
VDB-TNC
Bronze with green patina

The obverse bears the figure of Sir Galahad next to his horse, looking into a rising sun; on shield below, THE NEW CHIVALRY; signed V D BRENNER on right.

The medal was commissioned by Henry Ezekiel Jackson, a minister and prolific lecturer and writer. He attempted to start a movement called the "New Chivalry" whose purpose it was to provide an "education in correct thinking about sex matters."

Jackson believed that the use of a symbol would be an effective way of promoting his cause by allowing men to demonstrate willingness "to show their colors and express their loyalty to them." He commissioned Brenner to create a design "of which he may be privately conscious and proud, and which he may display as occasion and good taste suggest." The design was struck in three forms: bronze, sterling silver and solid 18kt gold.

Enlisting the help of Brenner was not inexpensive and only the generosity of a friend and neighbor in Montclair allowed Jackson to secure Brenner's services. Per Jackson's instructions, Brenner used the Galahad figure from a famous painting by George Frederick Watts as the basis for his design.

The image above is of an oversized Galvano with no reverse side.

The Avery Library Medal 1914
VDB-AL
Silver

This medal's obverse bears portrait of Avery facing left. Around, · PRESENTED · TO · SAMVEL · PVTNAM · AVERY · BY · HIS · FRIENDS · AND · THE · ARCHITECTS · OF · NEW · YORK; signed over shoulder at right, V D BRENNER / 1914

The reverse bears view of building facade framed by trees and shrubs. Above, THE AVERY LIBRARY; below, framed by two wreaths, · FOVNDED · BY · / · SAMVEL · PVTNAM · AVERY · / · AND · MARY · OGDEN · AVERY · / · 1890 · / · COMPLETED · BY · / · SAMVEL · PVTNAM · AVERY · / · THEIR · SON · / · 1912 ·

The edge is marked TIFFANY & CO. FINE SILVER

The Avery Library is named for Henry Ogden Avery, one of late nineteenth century New York's promising young architects and a friend of William Robert Ware, who founded the Department of Architecture at Columbia in 1881. A few weeks after Avery's premature death in 1890, his parents, Samuel Putnam Avery and Mary Ogden Avery, established the library as a memorial to their son. They offered 2,000 of his books, mostly in architecture, archaeology, and the decorative arts, many of his original drawings, funds to round out the book collection, and an endowment to assure the continuous growth of the library.

The medal measures 64mm in diameter and was struck in silver by Tiffany & Company of New York City.

References: Smedley 102

La Terre Medal 1917
VDB-LT
Bronze

This uniface medal's obverse bears male figure in work clothes, digging in the earth with a spade, facing right.

According to Smedley, the medal might have been created as an ornament on a flower box, probably reduced from a painting.

The medal measures 76.1mm in diameter and was struck in bronze. The mintage is not reported.

References: MACo 1931-051, Marqusee 80, Smedley 112

Warner & Swasey Co. 40th Anniversary Medal 1920
VDB-WS40
Bronze

This medal's obverse bears conjoined busts of Warner and Swasey facing left. Around edge, WORCESTER REED WARNER · AMBROSE SWASEY; in exergue, 1880 · 1920; signed in exergue under truncation, V.D.BRENNER

The reverse bears large telescope in observatory with two men seated to left and one standing on raised platform at ocular. Around edge, THE WARNER & SWASEY CO. / CLEVELAND OHIO. U.S.A. / LICK TELESCOPE

The medal celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Warner and Swasey had worked together at Pratt & Whitney and cofounded their eponymous company in 1880 in Chicago. in 1881 they moved to Cleveland to be located closer to one of their major customers.

The company manufactured lathes and other metal working machines and existed as a subsidiary of Giddings & Lewis until 1992 when it was shut down. Before that it had been acquired by the Bendix Corporation in 1980, Cross & Trecker in 1984 and finally Giddings & Lewis in 1991.

A different version of this medal was issued ten years later, after Brenner's death. On that version, the year was updated and Warner's lifespan was added to the left of his portrait.

The medal measures 77mm in diameter and was struck in bronze. While the mintage is not reported and neither production records nor dies exist any more, a person who wishes to remain anonymous has done extensive research on this medal. He tracked all available auction sales and reports that no medal with a serial number higher than 297 has ever been sold. This provides a definitive lower bound and probably also a fairly reliable upper bound of ca. 300 for the mintage.

References: MACo 1920-028

Warner & Swasey Co. 50th Anniversary Medal 1930
VDB-WS50
Bronze

This medal's obverse bears conjoined busts of Warner and Swasey facing left. Around edge, WORCESTER REED WARNER · AMBROSE SWASEY; to left of Warner, 1846 - / 1929; in exergue, 1880 · 1930; signed in exergue under truncation, V.D.BRENNER

The reverse bears large telescope in observatory with two men seated to left and one standing on raised platform at ocular. Around edge, THE WARNER & SWASEY CO. / CLEVELAND OHIO. U.S.A. / LICK TELESCOPE

The medal celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Warner & Swasey Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Warner and Swasey had worked together at Pratt & Whitney and cofounded their eponymous company in 1880 in Chicago. in 1881 they moved to Cleveland to be located closer to one of their major customers.

The company manufactured lathes and other metal working machines and existed as a subsidiary of Giddings & Lewis until 1992 when it was shut down. Before that it had been acquired by the Bendix Corporation in 1980, Cross & Trecker in 1984 and finally Giddings & Lewis in 1991.

This medal was issued several years after V.D. Brenner's death and is a reworking of a medal that Brenner designed ten years earlier to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary. The original design was modified by updating the anniversary date and by adding Warner's lifespan; he had died a year earlier.

The medal measures 64mm in diameter and was struck in bronze. The mintage is not reported.

References: MACo 1930-018


  • Schenley Fountain

    Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain (1918)

    The Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain, also known as A Song to Nature, is a 1918 landmark public sculpture in bronze and granite by Victor David Brenner. It sits in Schenley Plaza at the entrance to Schenley Park and directly in front of the University of Pittsburgh's Frick Fine Arts Building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The fountain is designated as a contributing property to the Schenley Farms Historic District.

    The work of art comprises two major figures: a reclining Pan, the Greek god of shepherds, and above him a female singer playing a lyre. From crevices along the fountain's rim four turtles spew water into the basin. An inscription on the pedestal reads, "A Song of Nature, Pan the Earth God Answers to the Harmony and Magic Tones Sung to the Lyre by Sweet Humanity." The basin of the fountain is 15 feet high, above which the figures rise another 15 feet.

    The fountain honors Mary Schenley. In 1889, after intensive lobbying by Edward Manning Bigelow, director of parks for the City of Pittsburgh, Schenley donated the land for the park named in her honor. Upon her death, Pittsburgh City Council sponsored a national competition for the memorial. The judges selected this design by Brenner.

    Image source unknown.

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