Navigate by Category: < Previous Next >
Zoom Obverse
Zoom Reverse
Category: Exonumia



Bronze, UNC

38 mm (1-1/2”), 28.3 grams

HISTORY: James Earle Fraser (1876–1953) was a sculptor of monumental public artworks throughout Washington, DC. The piece replicated on this medal resides outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building to the right of the steps. Fraser describes the original Authority of Law sculpture as “powerful, erect, and vigilant. He waits with concentrated attention, holding in his left hand the tablet of laws, backed by the sheathed sword, symbolic of enforcement through law.” On the tablet is inscribed the word “LEX,” which is Latin for “law,” a system or body of laws. Two years in the making, the completed marble statue was installed in November 1935, a month after the opening of the building.

OBVERSE: The unknown designer of this medal chose to recreate Fraser’s famous sculpture, adding at the base “THE GUARDIAN OF LAW.” Around the perimeter are the dates and words “· 1787‒1791 ∙ UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION BICENTENNIAL · 1981‒1991 ∙ DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.”

REVERSE: A laurel wreath frames the purpose of this medal: “IN COMMEMORATION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE JUDICIARY (1790-1990) AND THE UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE.” At the bottom center is a pentagon shape overwritten by a stylized infinity symbol.

EDGE: Reeded