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coinsbygary's Blog

22 Dec 2021

The Awards & Honors for My LGF Collection Keep Piling Up

Exonumia | coinsbygary

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! Nothing I collect has drawn more attention from outside interests than my Laura Gardin Fraser collection of coins and medals. For instance, my set entitled “The Coins and Medals of Laura Gardin Fraser” won NGC’s “2016 Most Creative Custom Set” award. Additionally, I’ve had numerous requests relating to this set, from permission to publish my pictures to a request to repatriate an awarded medal back to the recipient’s family. I’ve also had solicitations from cold contacts to purchase scarce medals, one of which is in my collection today. Furthermore, I am privileged to own two medals previously owned by the Frasers.

On top of that, I gave a Money Talks presentation on Laura Gardin Fraser at the 2019 ANA World Fair of Money show in Chicago and a podcast interview with Coin World magazine. Still, it’s the contacts and friends I have made along the way that means the most to me.

Now, I am being honored by a museum. The Vrijheids Museum (Freedom Museum) in the Netherlands asked me to loan them a medal from my collection for an exhibit they will be running until October 2022. That medal is Laura Gardin Fraser’s 1913 Better Babies Medal. The exhibit will detail the worldwide rise of eugenic philosophy in the early 20th century.

The Better Babies contests sought to educate parents in early childhood development and hygiene to combat the high infant mortality rate at the dawn of the 20th century. Better Babies contests were conducted at well-known venues like county and state fairs. Babies entered into the competitions were judged against specific scientific standards of early childhood development. The Better Babie medal was among several awards that parents and their babies could win by entering these contests. One of my problems with Better Babies is that infants were being judged at fairs, much like livestock. Thankfully, today, a healthy baby is a parents’ reward through well-baby exams measured by scientific standards at the pediatrician’s office.

Another problem with Better Babies and other programs like it was that they opened the door to eugenic movements here in the US and around the world. Sadly, the logical end to eugenics leads to racism, forced sterilizations, abortions, human breeding, and ethnic cleansing. Some say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. History demonstrates this to be true with Better Babies.

Coins and medals have stories to tell. Sometimes I wish that Laura Gardin Fraser hadn’t been tasked to design this medal. Then again, collectors hoping to uncover history through the coins and medals they collect must chronicle the good with the bad. We are not to whitewash history but to tell the truth and learn from history. I have learned things in the coins and medals I collect that they didn’t teach me in school. I hope that the Freedom museum will do likewise with its eugenics exhibit.

I’ve had several e-mail conversations with a museum intern to iron out the details of my loaning them the Better Babies medal. The top issue was how my medal would be portrayed in a eugenics exhibit. The following paragraph will quote the intern’s response word for word, to which I heartily agreed.

From January 2022 till October 2022 we will have an exhibition in our museum about a group of people European societies classified as “antisocial”. In occupied Europe during world war 2, people who received this label could be sent to concentration camps and/or be killed. Most of this was done in the name of eugenics, as these “antisocial” people were not viewed as having the “right” traits (according to some people), which meant they should not reproduce (sadly, similar to Jewish people). We would like to show that not only Nazi Germany had a eugenics movement, but many countries around the world as well. With your medal, we would like to show how eugenics movements came into being in other countries. With our exhibition, we would like to warn visitors about eugenics movements and the seemingly innocent thoughts that precede them. We think your medal would be a good addition to our story and exhibition.

If anyone is curious, I didn’t end up returning the “National Institute Of Social Sciences” medal to the family of its awardee, Clara D. Noyes. However, I promised to sell the medal back to the family if I found a replacement. Unfortunately, this medal is rarely available for sale, and I have not found a replacement. Interestingly, the family member that contacted me wrote a biography on Clara D. Noyes and graciously sent me a signed copy.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Gary

P.S. In a future blog, I’ll be posting pictures of my medal in its exhibit. I just hope that COVID won’t ruin things by keeping people out of the Freedom Museum in the Netherlands ☹

Comments

$tarCollector

Level 4

She made some good and very good designs while she was living.

$tarCollector

Level 4

Laura Gardin Fraser made some unique designs that are even used today. The design for that medal is interesting.

mrbrklyn

Level 4

https://www.loc.gov/item/2002719770/

coinsbygary

Level 5

Thank you for your input and perspective. There are always two sides to any argument, and I base mine on a July 2005 paper written by Steven Seldon of the University of Maryland. I can't agree more with the need to lower the infant mortality rate and improve the health of children based on scientific standards of childhood development. However, like today, political agendas often sway the public over science. Better Babies was no different—Steven Seldon documents how Better Babies became a springboard into the "Fitter Families" movement of the 1920s. Furthermore, much of early 20th-century philosophical science that influenced people then has been repudiated today. That said, philosophical theory isn't always an exact science. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7556429_Transforming_Better_Babies_into_Fitter_Families_archival_resources_and_the_history_of_American_eugenics_movement_1908-1930

mrbrklyn

Level 4

it is hard pressed to blame the better babies program for eugenics, although there is an important lesson for us perhaps, that sicence can't make political decisions. People are ethical beings, and scientific data is not. At a time when children routinely died young, these programs were import for governments and for the underclass that they targeted. * https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18010095/ * https://www.nytimes.com/1919/06/08/archives/thousands-helped-in-child-campaign-year-of-intense-activity-for.html * https://www.loc.gov/item/2002719770/ https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304354 * https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/index.cfm?event=website.viewArticles&issueid=135&articleid=3495

thatcoinguy

Level 5

Wow! That’s quite the reputation.

Kepi

Level 6

What a great honor! You do have an amazing collection! So happy for you and your accomplishments! ; )

AC coin$

Level 5

Congratulatios beautiful medal , great blog information .

slybluenote

Level 5

Congratulations on this achievement Gary! I resemble ALL of the remarks here! Everything I know about “exonumia” I have learned from you and this site. Thanks for being a friend and helping me out with picture taking! It’s very much appreciated! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

It's worth noting that the evils associated with that era were the politics of Woodrow Wilson and his party. His party has been always associated with authoritarianism, power and control. It's no different than today with that party.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Wasn't she a very gifted artist?

Longstrider

Level 6

What a bunch of great honors. You definitely have a beautiful and unique collection. All you honors are well deserved. Thanks.

Mike

Level 7

I have learned allot on this site but L.G.F. I learned the most about from you Gary. It's an honor to have a coin or medal done by L.G.F. Being shown in a museum. Congratulations. You deserve it.

Congrats!

"SUN"

Level 6

Great blog. She was a great artist

Golfer

Level 5

Amazing collection for sure. Congratulations.

Long Beard

Level 5

Congratulations on such a prestigious honor. Collecting outside the traditional "coin" is rewarding and highly enjoyable. Within the last year, I saw one of her galvanos (the plaster model used for reduction to working dies) for sale. Not an auction, but I can't remember where or how much. If I remember, I'll keep you in mind.

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 4

what a great honor. congratulations.

Beautiful ISS medal. I'd like to see a book featuring all Fraser's medallic work.

Anakin104

Level 4

Wow. Nice history, and it is cool that a musuem is honoring you. Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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