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Category: Exonumia



Bronze, UNC

76.2 mm (3”), 249.5 grams

HISTORY: City Bank of New York (now Citibank) was founded on June 16, 1812. Samuel Osgood (1747‒1813) was appointed as the bank’s first president. Osgood was a merchant and statesman, serving as a major and then colonel in a Massachusetts militia unit during the Revolutionary War against British rule. One hundred fifty years later, under the president/chairmanship of James Stillman Rockefeller (1902‒2004), the bank changed its name to First National City Bank, New York. In 1962, a bronze medal was designed and struck for a celebration of the bank’s service to its broad-based clientele. This medal was mailed to “Mrs. E. S.” from the Bronx, New York (perhaps an employee) in the original box (Detail 1). Folded inside is a description of the medal, a profile of the artist, a tribute to Medallic Art Company, and an historical timeline of First National City Bank. Included is a separate congratulatory note (Detail 2) from Chairman Rockefeller, Chairman of the Executive Committee Richard S. Perkins (1910–2003), and President George S. Moore (1905‒2000).

OBVERSE: Enric Monjo (1895‒1976), Spanish-born sculptor, was already well known to First National for his design of the reliefs on their New York headquarters building. Monjo’s sculptures were generally religious in nature, attested by a number of his works integrated into the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. For this commission, however, Monjo was challenged by a theme of industry, prosperity, and partnership.

Monjo chose a caped Plutus—Greek god of abundance, wealth, and agriculture—as a young man in full frontal nudity. Arms outstretched, with angels as his wings, Plutus embraces a mother and her daughter, hugging a doll to his right, while a young woman clutches a sheaf of wheat to his left. Behind his right leg, shrouded in shadowed mystery, is an ancient scholar holding an open tome. On his headcap are the numerals “IX,” which may refer to Book IX of Homer’s Odyssey. Might Plutus, in fact, be Polyphemus, son of Poseidon, the Cyclopes? To the left of Plutus is a bare-chested, sweaty, generic male laborer. In the distance, behind the quay walls, is a freighter ship to his left and an airplane to his right.

Below the flowing cape of Plutus, at about 6 o’clock, is the signature of “Monjo.” The words “· FIRST · NATIONAL · CITY · BANK ·” flow around the lower half of the medal.

REVERSE: First National City Bank rolled out its new logo with the issue of this medal, “150 YEARS OF SERVICE,” in a banner woven through the lower branches of an allegorical tree of life. Framing the canopy of leaves and fruit are the words, “· FAMILY · CULTURE · COMMERCE · TRANSPORTATION · INDUSTRY · AGRICULTURE ·” followed by “· 1812 – 1962 ·” in the exergue. It is interesting that the tap root of the tree curls around to create the dash between dates, linking the creation of the company to its present status.

EDGE: Smooth, with the words “MEDALLIC ART CO. NY” and “BRONZE” on the bottom edge.

Detail 1: Medal in Original Issue Box
Detail 2: Congratulatory Note &
Signature Page