High objects of State (letters patent from Queen Victoria, each w/ Great Seal):
Author of Balfour Declaration - 1898 diplomatic credentials, for talks with Germany |
Chancellor of the Exchequer letters patent of Gladstone, 1873
The (Swedish General) Viktor Balck Olympic Games- Founding Archive
Swedish gold and bronze medals honoring Viktor Balck | Viktor Balck 1912 Stockholm Olympics book Tower and Sword collar of Viktor Balck
Civil War Gillmore Medal to Jewish officer who helped 1863 "Glory" charge toward Ft. Wagner 1863
Statesmen |Koerber - 1920s friend, then foe of Hitler |The Viktor von Koerber WWI Aviation Archive|
Presentation keys, gold medal to major U.K. statesman Award Documents to important 19th century European diplomats
The JFK and staffers convention badges etc. Archive: I.D. Badges to JFK and Secretary Ev Lincoln Mass. Labor Federation badge (major speech) 1960 Democratic Nomination campaign: aide Bob Troutman
Heroines | "Girl who defied Hitler" at 1936 Olympics: biography Inge Sorensen Archive: items First ever (gold NYC) Women's Club Medal of Honor Award Diplomas to great Jewess opera singer
The Poignant Mayer family Jewish Heroism for (in WWI) and Flight from (pre-WWII) Germany Archive
Presentation trowel etc. to president of "philanthropic" society for troubled girls
The field of collecting, like other fields, employs concepts, criteria of judgment, to guide participants in assessing courses of action; thus awards, like other objects possible to collect, can be subject to judgment via these concepts. However, it is possible that the concepts, or their customary application, may be seriously flawed. In collecting, as in other fields, concepts are used more often than they are critically examined, thereby sometimes evolving in unfortunate ways. We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance maintain that this has happened in the collecting field, particularly as regards the concepts of rarity, although other concepts, eg. revolving around "condition," have also become problematic. The resultant behavior of collectors has become something of an object of derision from general observers of the modern cultural scene, eg. toward the hoarding of beanie babies on the theory that they will later become more valuable. The critics point out that, insofar as things become valuable by becoming rare, when masses of people hoard beanie babies, these objects become rare only until some of the hoarders decide to sell; once the market is perceived to have become a seller's market, prices are liable to collapse. Thus the things to hoard are those being neglected, not hoarded, by other collectors.
This critique is fine, as far as it goes, but it takes for granted a clear set of criteria for "rarity," a state of affairs which we at Awards of Outstanding International Importance choose to challenge, particularly insofar as production of objects specifically for the collector market seems so often to be deliberately organized to create artificial "rarities," such as when particular categories of beanie babies or Franklin Mint medals are produced in lower quantity than are other categories. We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance predict that, over time, collectors will get wise to the extent to which they are being crassly manipulated via infantile concepts of "rarity," and we suggest that thoughtful collectors go back to the drawing board as regards their notions of "rarity."
To an important extent, the question to be faced is "what qualities will define the rare vs. the common." After all, every object can be found to have some rare or unique characteristic, if one examines it in enough detail. At issue is, which qualities, and distinctions among them, are significant. The uproar among coin collectors, over differences considered minute to people outside this community, strikes many, eg. among art collectors, to be almost pedantic, as if the point was to vindicate Jean Jacques Rousseau's fear that bourgeois culture would become a caricature of the Midas legend; these differences include over-emphasis upon a coin's condition, and emphasis upon "numismatic" issues, ie. issues pertaining to variations in dates, mint marks, etc. The extent of the difference in the present market value of an uncirculated 1912 U.S. Liberty nickel (as little as $50) and a 1913 Liberty nickel (at least $1.5 million) hinges on a difference digit distinguishing 1912 from 1913, with the 1913 being consummately rare. The coin collecting world regards it as self evident that one should consider the difference between one year and another to be so significant that, of course, one should want every year represented in order to have a "complete collection," despite the fact that non-collectors in 1912 and 1913 cared nothing for this difference; to them, the point of each coin was that it be accepted as legal tender by the businesses with which citizens were dealing, though they might have been expected by the government to have noticed the change in design from the Liberty design to the Indian Head design.
The coin collecting world likewise regards a coin's condition to be central to its value, again disregarding the general irrelevance of a coin's condition to its ability to perform the economic role for which it was produced; a coin in MS-30 condition is liable to be worth a fraction of the same exact issue in MS-60 condition. For condition to be considered relevant is reasonable enough, since no collecting field dismisses condition altogether; for condition to be considered central in the coin world is the collecting equivalent of idolatry, which can be defined as the act of worshiping an object for its own sake instead of recalling the object's symbolization of issues more important than the object itself. A word to the wise (collector) goes as follows: insofar as a field of collecting emphasizes condition more than do other fields, that field betrays a lack of inherent capacity to hold collectors' interest, and so must manufacture criteria, eg. condition, to prevent this interest from gravitating to other fields. When an emperor has no clothes, he must produce a distraction to obscure the truth about his situation.
The above analysis refers to collecting of modern coins; collecting of coins from the ancient world is another story, since coins were a means by which the populace would learn of the likeness, if not the accession, of a new ruler. The coin world's notion of what makes a modern collection complete is what is at issue here, because this notion has no social meaning outside of the coin collecting context; the rarity of the 1913 Liberty nickel is a historical accident which depended on an obscure decision of someone in one of the Mints to produce X number of 1912's and Y number of 1913's, a decision laughably trivial compared to that of the Nobel Committee to honor one contribution rather than another, or compared to Van Gogh's decision to paint in one style rather than another.
The mentality widely seen in the coin world is a classic illustration of what museologists such as Susan Pearce call fetishistic collecting, the detachment of objects out of their condition to be considered original social context to suit the whims of collectors; as she puts it, in Museums, Objects, and Collections, (1993) this detachment creates a sterility that "gives to the material that peculiarly lifeless quality which all curators recognize with a sinking heart." Her point is that this sinking feeling derives from the inability of the collectors in question to provide a compelling rationale for the sets that they completed. (pp. 81-83) Of course, we at Awards of Outstanding International Importance recognize the right of collectors to pursue their fetishes; we also suspect that there are those who aspire to a higher level, who wish to have collections which can compel broad respect, and we propose to show a path toward this level, a path strewn with clear conceptions pertaining to such notions as rarity.
To us, an object is rare only insofar as the characteristics at issue are those which were considered significant by those for whom the object was made, by whom the object was used. A work of art is, by definition, unique, at least in the mind of the artist; art is good or great insofar as its differences from other works are significant to the broad public or to future generations. An Award of Outstanding International Importance can be distinguished from other objects by its ability to compel special attention from the broad public, when it was issued as well as later; the rarity of such an object, and the rationale for this rarity, need not be explained, but is already known, to all but the most utter ignoramuses. Our conception of rarity, far from detaching objects from their context, regards this context as utterly central. To us, collecting is not just whim fulfillment, but an exercise in curatorship, a decision to preserve the best of the past.
Welcome to the exciting world of collecting Awards of Outstanding International Importance to statesmen and heroines. This Concepts Page will explain in detail why many institutions are so very serious about their issuance of awards, why museologists should be equally serious about preserving and displaying award-objects presented to recipients of the sort featured on this web site, and why anyone might derive great satisfaction and fulfillment from being a "custodian" of such awards. First, however, we will define what we mean by the key terms used here.
An award of outstanding international importance has two aspects, firstly being its status as of outstanding international Importance, secondly being its status as an award. Something is called of outstanding international importance insofar as it can be seen to be important, not only within the society which produced it, but cross-culturally to all knowledgeable persons; such an object has the capacity to compel worldwide respect. Japanese pay millions for Western art; Arabs pay millions for U.S. coins. As the world "becomes a smaller place," we see growth in the capacity and tendency of people to appreciate the histories of foreign peoples. The "Awards of Outstanding International Importance . . . " section of our web site is about internationally important objects in the narrowest sense of the term, ie. objects which can compare in any sense to those which have brought millions of dollars in other fields of collecting; the other two sections have objects which lack the name recognition of a Nobel Prize, but which still can compel fairly broad worldwide assent as to their significance. Awards, in a collecting context, are best understood as being objects specially made to be presented from an institution (or an individual representing an institution) to an individual (or, occasionally, an institution). Such objects are untransferable from the recipient to anyone else, and they evoke some degree of positive social passion from citizens. Regarding most people (possibly excepting artists), untransferable objects are the most important objects of their public lives; determining which objects are the most important objects of their private lives would in almost every case require an outsider (eg. a biographer) to possess impressive expertise about the specific person.
The above-mentioned untransferability can be best understood by comparing checks, award medals, diplomas, driver's licenses, and traffic tickets. A check for X dollars, but not a driver's license or diploma, can be signed over to someone else, for unrestricted use by the new recipient. A driver's license could be publicly burnt by the owner, say in protest against being issued a fine for a traffic violation, without making anything like the dramatic impact upon onlookers compared to, say, the public destruction of a college diploma in protest against a policy undertaken by the school in question; this dramatic impact seems to vary largely with the prestige (vs. routine status) of the award. When antiwar veterans publicly through away their medals, they committed acts arousing social passion largely to the extent that these medals were not issued to non-veterans (who, after all had generally done much less for the war effort); the burning of traffic tickets has a weaker and somewhat different meaning, in that this sort of ticket has a pejorative rather than positive meaning, and such tickets' (and driver's licenses) issuance are rather more routine than issuance of award medals or diplomas. (We say here award medals, because any medals made to be commercially sold, eg. to commemorate some anniversary, are more akin to art than to non-transferable awards, and so should be treated by curators, collectors, etc. decisively differently, as is done by us at Awards of Outstanding International Importance.)
What are Awards of Outstanding International Importance?
. Introduction and definitions
World-Class Awards and Collecting: Rarity, Condition, Completion of a Set, etc.
World-class Awards, vs. "Investment" in Art, "Rare" Coins, Etc.
The field of award collecting is little known compared to such fields as coins or art, but compares favorably to these other fields in important respects and thus should be considered by all people who are of a mind to be serious collectors of interesting objects, or who in any case have discretionary financial resources available to be put into a field which could bring a person surprising fulfillment. The following paragraphs will compare awards to these major alternative fields.
Millions of people get considerable joy collecting art or coins, and to those who are completely satisfied with their present course, we at Awards of Outstanding International Importance say "happy collecting!" Our message is aimed to those who have been pushed into "investing" in these fields (by advisors who neglect the vital distinction between investment and speculation) and who are open to considering alternatives. We agree with respected financial analysts such as Harry Browne, Mish Shedlock, and Richard Maybury, that gold, government securities, and other instruments traditionally recommended by brokers for their proven track record of securing principal in uncertain times, deserve the label "investments"*; by contrast, objects, without such a track record, or whose value can fluctuate wildly with circumstances such as changing views on such issues as "condition," are speculations, not investments.
Indeed, precisely because investors have recently been steered into "rare" coins by brokerage firms, and coin-dealer propaganda, the value of certain kinds of coins is ripe for collapse, once some investors begin to abandon ship, just as happened to the NASDAQ since Spring 2000. The record of Goldman Sachs and others, having been caught steering investors into stocks which these firms knew to be houses of cards, will likely give pause to some persons who were steered into coins by these firms. By contrast, prices of most important awards have been strong for decades despite the lack of stimulation of this market by brokers, etc.; the lack of investor participation in the awards market protects this market from the sort of cyclical pressure to which the more widely-hyped collecting markets are prone. The awards market is especially strong in times of inflation, when money seeks havens in solid, unhyped directions. The fifteen years between the late 1960's and the early 1980's saw US prices for goods, services, etc. climb by a factor of 9 or more, depending on which measure one uses; in this period, prices for premium award objects climbed by a factor of over 100.
We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance do believe that views of historical significance will over the long term be less volatile than views about condition, but we grant that awards are not investments strictly speaking. From our above essay on rarity, condition etc., it should be clear that awards are a less risky "investment" than is art, in that awards are easier to authenticate, and that they are less risky than coins, in that prices of so many coins are artificially inflated by skillful propaganda which distorts thinking about "rarity and condition." Some might go so far as to call this propaganda campaign a pyramid scheme; in any case, it is vulnerable to a collapse of its own weight, and when it crumbles, at least some of the money previously poured into coins is liable to flow into awards, the authentic human magnitude of which utterly dwarfs that of modern coins, and compares favorably to that of even the greatest art. Awards, after all, are issued to celebrate or memorialize a deed or career, to create a Hall of Fame in various fields of human experience. It should be clear that most persons, institutions, and societies treat awards far more respectfully than they treat coins, and that, precisely because awards are about deeds and careers, awards can be collected in a far more interesting way than coins can be, namely, "by recipient," as opposed to "by denomination," etc. When one's research discovers important information about a recipient whose award(s) one owns, one enhances the value of the award precisely because one has made owning it a more fulfilling experience; the research aspect of awards can be downright thrilling.
All of the above is to say that awards are, authentication issues aside, closer to art than to coins, and so are more likely to eventually bring prices brought by great art. The top awards, like the greatest art, are national treasures of the country to which they most pertain, and some, such as Nobel Prizes, are generally world treasures. Yet even lesser awards' personal touch, ie. their status as so often the most significant objects in the lives of their recipients (far more than an autograph by the person), makes them of special interest. They are, almost by definition, heirlooms. When we show people such objects as a Nobel Prize, they say such things as "how could a family have sold such a piece at any, much less at an affordable, price?", as if we had shown them the Mona Lisa. We see no evidence that even the "rarest" coin brings anything like this emphatic sort of response. Each Nobel Prize is unique, ie. it has the recipient's name on the gold medal and on the spectacular award document, but none of the tiny handful of Nobels sold have brought anything like prices paid for the "rarest" U.S. nickels, dimes, etc., whose "rarity" comes from differences in dates, mint marks, condition, etc. At Awards of Outstanding International Importance, we de-emphasize such trivial issues as "condition," in favor of profound differences such as those between real leaders (eg. JFK) and pretentious wannabes (eg. the author of "Piss Christ"), or between important institutions (eg. which helped stop Hitler) and those which are good for little besides relieving people of their money, under quite dubious premises (eg. a certain Mint which manufactures and markets commemorative medals as if they were heirlooms); we specialize in our area because its objects, as much as they can, pertain to differences between virtue and vice, citizenship and apathy.
As stated previously, we see collecting of ancient coins as being of a more significant order. The difficulty with them is as with art: these categories of objects present authentication problems far graver than any presented by most modern (state-issued) award objects, or, for that matter, by modern coins. The institutions minting modern coins or presenting awards have had a major interest in guaranteeing that forgery of coins or award-objects would be brutally difficult. If money were easy to forge, belligerent nations could easily attack each others' economies via hyperinflation, by injection of such forged money into the enemy economy (presumably in exchange for valuable assets!). When institutions neglect to properly monitor the processes of production of award-objects, imposters use the easy availability of such objects to seek major advantage by attracting to themselves the prestige rightly accorded only to legitimate award-recipients, thus bringing scandal to the awards themselves and thereby defeating the purposes (e.g. honor, not scandal) of the issuance of such objects. Poor oversight of the production and distribution process of the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor led to a scandal involving fraudulent claims of legitimate entitlement to this honor: "... the wearing of the Medal of Honor by unauthorized individuals, called 'imposters', had reached epidemic proportions." Such epidemics are avoidable if the production of award-objects is verified to be performed in a manner difficult to duplicate except with the highest level of technology (in recent times governments have had to adjust their techniques for printing money) and monitored closely by accountable personnel (as was neglected for the Medal of Honor). Artists rarely if ever used the highest level of technology, and insofar as coinsmiths of the ancient world used the highest level of ancient technology, the technology then available has been so far surpassed in our time that one must expect the results of their efforts to be fairly easy to replicate today.
The above paragraph refers to most (state-issued) award objects. We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance take great care to assess the processes by which states obtain objects for presentation. A critical general rule of ours is "objects produced by a (state) mint are more reliable than those produced privately;" thus, since British war medals, the (Swedish) Nobel Prize medal, and virtually all Soviet awards, were made in these countries' mints, these objects are more reliable than those from other states whose award-objects were generally made by private firms. A second general rule of ours is "two different types of object are twice as difficult to successfully forge than is only one type of object;" thus the Nobel Prize medal and diploma set, or a group with a (e.g. British suffragette) silver medal and satin-leather presentation case, each with recipient's name inscribed, is more reliable than is only a medal, a diploma, or a presentation case.
Art can have great human magnitude, but is inherently difficult to authenticate; coins can be easier to authenticate, but almost always have far less human magnitude than award-objects. Of course, one could collect awards in the same way that coins are collected, ie. one could strive to obtain one of each denomination and each variation thereof. There are plenty of dealers of awards, whose addresses can be found at the web site of Medal Net, who handle awards in such a "numismatic" way. With Awards of Outstanding International Importance, you get a different experience: each major award is accompanied by articles, books, pictures, and/or videos written by or telling some of the story of the recipient. Once recipients "leave us" that departure is only partial; we are still happy to provide advice on researching them or their historical context further. We would rather have a relative handful of clients with whom we closely interact than have a bevy of transient ties, for much the same reasons that we prefer to deal with awards to recipients whose lives illustrated or exemplified such hallowed human traits as intellectual, artistic, athletic or military prowess, or whose careers pertained to such profound issues as peace or war, freedom or slavery, prosperity or poverty, safety or anarchy, for cities, nations or continents. Our priorities are depth over shallowness, profundity over superficiality, integrity over glitz. Welcome to Awards of Outstanding International Importance!
Awards of Outstanding International Importance to Statesmen and Heroines
(World-Class Awards to Statesmen and Heroines)
Awards vs. Other Classes of Objects:
about the link between individuals and institutions
Awards dramatize the relationship between individuals and institutions, in a way not accomplished by other objects. Institutions can issue various sorts of objects, eg. books or coins, which help focus attention on the institutions, but these other objects are not intended for any specific individual, so they do not focus attention on the individual as individual, as is accomplished by award-objects, (especially when presented in ceremonies) which are generally intended for specific individuals. This dramatization of the relationship between individuals and institutions is important to society by the very nature of what a society is, a collection of individuals. There appears to have been, throughout most of well-recorded history, substantial controversy about the best balance to be struck between the interests of the individual and the requirements of society. Few students of human social and political interaction would dispute the view that societies must, in order to survive, obtain some measure of loyalty from most of its individual members. It can be argued that the fate of modern non-totalitarian civilization hangs in large measure on the ability of modern institutions to non-oppressively instill respect for those values and virtues necessary to the thriving of this civilization. There is grave doubt that salaries alone are sufficient to motivate conscientious public service from such vital personnel as soldiers and police, particularly given the personal dangers inherent in performance of these vital jobs; there is some doubt that deterrence of criminal conduct is alone sufficient to produce a mostly law-abiding citizenry. On the other hand, the discrediting of totalitarianism in most of the modern world means that most modern persons hope that the means, by which this broad loyalty to society is obtained, are minimally oppressive. If the taxation necessary to pay for the production and distribution of award-objects were the most oppressive means used to obtain such broad loyalty to society, most modern persons would regard such taxation as a small price to pay for the benefit of a low crime rate and an effective maintenance of regional, if not world, peace.
The extent of this controversy over the best balance to be struck has hardly shrunk in the last five centuries; not surprisingly, the social role for awards relative to other kinds of objects has grown significantly, especially since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, as can be seen when one reflects upon the process of historical change as presented by the likes of (now-retired) historian William H. McNeill of the University of Chicago. His view is that the evolution of the means of interaction between societies has been the single greatest factor in bringing about change within societies. For most of recorded history, the changes in the means of transportation were more influential than any other changes, although the invention of coinage by the Greeks which did so much to facilitate commerce, was an exception. However, beginning with Gutenberg, changes in the means of communication began to compete with changes in transportation as the most influential changes. We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance maintain that, just as coins were a major exception to Mc Neill's general rule as regards ancient history, so awards are a similar exception as regards recent history (awards would not be considered to fall within the meaning of "the means of transportation," and would only in the narrowest sense fall into "the means of communication").
Awards are less a means of communication than a subject of and a stimulus for it; they express the identity of recipients who nowadays include, not only celebrities such as knights or Academy award winners, but of more common folk. We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance maintain that, just as coins were a major exception to Mc Neill's general rule as regards ancient history, so awards are a similar exception as regards recent history. In recent times, one's station at birth has meant less than ever before, and one's deeds more than ever before, particularly regarding others' expectations as to one's abilities to decisively influence events. Centuries ago one's class background was almost always a decisive indicator, with one's family coat of arms being a decisive symbol of one's social position; now the greatest questions are about one's possession of earned, rather than inherited, academic, social, or other credentials, which are most easily shown by possession of certificates of membership or achievement such as a college diploma or a Nobel Prize; the need is to establish bona fides, or evidence of competence. Furthermore, even two centuries ago, one dealt mostly with persons whom one knew most of one's life; now one deals much more with strangers than ever before, so when one needs insight into a stranger, his or her public record of achievement can be decisively relevant. The significance of these certificates etc. would be diminished only insofar as a Nobel laureate's status is so well known that a Nobel diploma need not be displayed, as contrasted with a lesser known doctor's diploma, (or copy thereof) which will always hang in his or her office; in either case, the presentation ceremony is considered a milestone in the recipient's life, and a major social event for the recipient's friends and family. Such objects, even when they do not communicate directly (eg. to all those at the ceremony who never get a good look at the object) nonetheless play a decisive social role in the modern world.
We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance view the above criterion, that pertaining to the meaning of the associated social event, as the best single indicator as to the importance an object should have for us, so we concentrate on non-transferable objects which generated positive social passion. One other main criterion by which we determine whether an object or group is worthy of our attention, is the extent to which the specific relationship, between the issuing institution and the recipient, pertains to Professor McNeill's conception of the process of historical change and its emphasis on the means of interaction between peoples, because the above-described role of awards as the modern measure of one's credentials or standing has been evolving toward becoming an international system; the Nobel Prizes are truly the World Championships of physics, chemistry, etc.. This evolution of an international system in awards is at minimum a dramatic parallel to, if not a major contributor to, the evolution of a truly world culture, a "global village".
Significance and Museology
We at Awards of Outstanding International Importance believe that further major distinctions should be drawn between the following categories of objects, in ascending order of significance: (1) those not clearly of museum quality, but which traditionally compel much attention from collectors, eg.coins, (2) those whose museological significance was not broadly apparent at the time of production or first usage, but became worthy of inclusion in museums (eg. much art), (3) those which by their nature were immediately significant, and thus could later be worthy of being the foci of museums (eg. world-class awards), (4) those which belong in the highest security "museums," ie. the state archives, and (5) those which, in any case, have become so significant, as foci of whole cultures, that this significance dwarfs the issue of the humbleness of the origins of these objects.
This Fifth category would contain any object capable of becoming a first-class relic as defined by the Catholic Church, were that object to have become significant in a Christian context*. For the Church, a first-class relic is either a body part of a holy person (ie. a saint) or an instrument of the Passion (for our purposes, the body parts part will be set aside). Such "super-objects," comparable to instruments of the Passion, would include, for adherents of the Enlightenment "tradition," the cup from which Socrates drank hemlock; for Moslems, Mohammed's sword; for anti-racists, the (original copy of the) Emancipation Proclamation; for Nazis, the 1923 Blood Banner; for Zionists, the Balfour Declaration; for Communists, the 1848 Communist Manifesto. Such super-objects are hardly available on the market, having been either long ago destroyed, or acquired by those institutions whose heritage the objects exemplify, as with the U.S. Declaration of Independence being preserved at Independence Hall, Philadelphia. The same is true, by definition, for the Fourth category, (let us call them) archival-objects, which would include treaties, (original copies of) constitutions, and crown jewels. If anyone knows of any place where super-objects or archival-objects are being offered for sale, we at Awards of Outstanding International Importance would very much appreciate learning of such a place.
Thus, the category of objects, which is both very significant and which includes objects sometimes actually available, is the Third category, which includes World-Class Awards. Such objects were issued by institutions to individuals, not to be used at will by the individuals, but rather to "be held" (as if in trust) and used in prescribed ways and situations. Different institutions have different requirements for specific objects held by recipients: many high awards, incl. the highest British orders (eg. the Garter) are returnable to the state upon the recipient's death; even lower Soviet orders were similarly returnable until the mid-1970's. Possession of such objects by unauthorized persons often carried significant penalties, esp. if one were misrepresenting oneself as a person who was entitled to use the object in the prescribed manner; those who were caught so using the Royal French Order of St. Louis could expect to become a galley slave.
To the best of our knowledge, only we at Awards of Outstanding International Importance carry such objects, not as a matter of chance, but as a deliberate, systematic policy. Again, if anyone knows of any other place where such a systematic approach is undertaken regarding Third category objects, we at Awards of Outstanding International Importance would very much appreciate learning of such a place; our contact information is on ourHOME page.
Picasso's " Garçon à la pipe," which brought
$104 million in a 2004 Sotheby's sale.
Honus Wagner tobacco (baseball) card,
sold in 2007 for $2.8 million.
Telephone 773-539-5751 FAX 773-304-0131
P.O. Box 300791, Chicago, IL 60630, USA
Electronic mail: email@example.com
Prices available upon request.
A fan holds the baseball which was smacked into the seats by Mark McGuire for his record-breaking 70th home run (in 1998); this baseball sold for $2.7 million in 1999.
* Alas, events (such as the collapses of venerable firms like Enron, Arthur Anderson, and Merrill Lynch) over the last decade have rendered to be more suspect even many traditional "investments". Hence the gap between the financial conservatism of "investing" and that of speculating has, sadly, narrowed.
An award is a object given, usually in public, to a specific person (thus not being transferable to someone else) to represent or commemorate an achievement or career, and which is intended to thereby increase public respect, for the recipient (and only this recipient), and public passion and loyalty, for the institution presenting the award
An award is world-class insofar as its issuance either
(1) is limited to recipients whose stature approach world-class status,
or who are thereby transformed into world class figures
or (2) is, at the time of issuance or later, of interest to high-level officials of states other than those directly involved.
A person is a world-class figure insofar as the person is widely known and respected within the global community, if not generally, then within a specific field of human endeavor. Anyone described in a biographical entry in Encyclopedia Britannica surely qualifies; anyone who is the subject of a biographical book, particularly years after the person's retirement or death, or those who appear in a country's Dictionary of National Biography, possibly qualify.
A Nobel Prize is clearly a world-class award in a (mythic or legendary) class of its own, and so belongs in its own section on this web site; other awards are divided into those to statesmen and those to heroines
i.e. our working definitions and threshholds for deciding if an object (or group thereof) is worthy of being offered by us:
Premium Award: an object, or set thereof, bestowed (as a non-routine event) upon a designated, "premium" recipient, via the authority of
1) a major governmental or international institution;
2) an organization which at least came close to some success in its primary aim of controlling or influencing public policy, toward at least one issue of major importance, conducted by one or more major governmental or international institution; or
3) an organization which has happened, for whatever reason(s), to have become iconic (e.g. in sports, or other entertainment fields) among the populace within at least one major country.
Premium recipient: a recipient (a designated person or group)
1) .whose career made some disctinctive or substantial contribution to a major country or international institution, or to all of humanity; or
2) whose life had aspects which exemplified or dramatized an iconic or epic drama or development in modern times.
(The term iconic is used here in the neutral sense: the Holocaust has become iconic in the sense of being the apotheosis of supreme evil.
The instituting of many of the most important awards owe their inspiration to religious traditions of venerating the relics of saints.)
We sometimes offer objects which can be seen as routine rather than premium, but only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. if the objects were issued to iconic persons, or under especially historic circumstances).
Washington-Lafayette Medal Brings $5,305,000
By Greg Reynolds on Tuesday, December 18, 2007
.... this Washington-Lafayette medal, more specifically an Order, sold in a one-lot auction in the Sotheby’s building....
Its value comes largely from the concepts that it symbolizes, and is thus harder to explain than the values of most historical relics. In my preview article, I emphasized that the value of this item is largely based upon the concept that it was treasured by George Washington himself, represents the personal bond between Washington and Lafayette along with an historical bond between the U.S. and France, and is symbolic of the bravery and ideals of those who fought against the British in the Revolutionary War for America’s Independence. In sum, it symbolizes key historical relationships and philosophical ideals.
So, this medal symbolizes a combination of historical facts and philosophical ideals and that is primarily why it sold for $5.3 million. It has more elements than other numismatic items or historical memorabilia. It has more aesthetic and emotional impact than paper documents. Further, the Founding Fathers wrote many letters. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote many thousands of letters. Lafayette certainly wrote hundreds. Yet, there is only one Order (medal) that was owned by both Washington and Lafayette, plus it is literally and philosophically connected to the American Revolution.
The total value of this Order (medal) is greater than the sum of its numismatic, historical, political and philosophical components. It is a unique and forceful combination of these components.
Is the $5.3 million result extremely high? From the point of view of a numismatist, it is much too much for a medal that does not logically complete a collection. Consider, though, that a large number of paintings, with minimal historical or philosophical significance, have been auctioned for more than $5 million each! Maybe $5.3 million is too low a price for an attractive item of great numismatic, historical, political and philosophical importance!
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