BABE RUTH - COMMEMORATIVE COIN MEDAL

PLASTER MODEL SCULPTED BY JOHN CALABRO FOR THE
NATIONAL COMMEMORATIVE SOCIETY (1964-1976) - Medal No. 54

Original Plaster Models Used in Making the Dies, as mounted in the Sculptor's Studio

The NATIONAL COMMEMORATIVE SOCIETY was established by Joseph Segal in 1964, introducing a new collecting concept, offering a monthly series of commemorative coin-medals honoring subjects selected by Society members. Each issue was designed and sculpted by a distinguished artist.  The NCS's marketing concept set the pattern for many medallic and commemorative societies which followed.  Joseph Segal later developed the General Numismatics Corporation to mint the coins as the society grew, and in 1964, GNC became the Franklin Mint, which Segel founded. Each medal in this series measured 39mm, and was minted in Proof Sterling Silver in a limited edition of 5,252.  There were 150 medals minted by the Society.

Obverse of the Medal - 10" diameter

Reverse of the Medal - 10" diameter

$950 Net

(valued in 2000 at $2000)

Offered is one of the most unique Babe Ruth Commemorative pieces extant --- The Original Plaster Models Used in Making the Dies.  These models for the obverse and reverse sides of the coin measure 10 inches in diameter.  They are mounted on a plywood board  (21 inches wide by 14 inches high) with a plastic wood grained "formica-type" laminate on the show surface.

Two cards (shown below) written in longhand, explain the piece. The upper card measures 5 inches wide by 3 inches high, and includes actual-size photos of the medal.  The lower card measures (5 inches by 3 inches).

JOHN CALABRO  (1908-1994)

Born in New York City, John Calabro was the seventh in a generation of artists. He grew up "surrounded by stone"- his father was a stonecutter and a professional sculptor. According to his wife, the former Anita Esther Kaplis, John was once described by The New York Times, in the 1970s, as a "modern Michelangelo." This observation was based upon "the way he adopted Michelangelo's method of hacking away directly on whatever medium he was working with."

He began sculpting at the age of 12 and was a 1926 graduate of the Cooper Union School of Art. He later studied sculpture and design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. His artistic talents were manifold. His works were in granite, marble, plaster and bronze; he was also a painter and even worked with metal. For the last 30 years of his life, he lived in Northvale, New Jersey where he had his studio. Calabro was a fellow of the National Sculpture Society, a life member of the American Artist Professional League, a member of the Leonardo da Vinci Society of Fort Lee, New Jersey and the Northern Valley Coin Club in Demarest, New Jersey.

He did many busts and portrait sculptures of famous people including Abraham Lincoln (3), Marie Curie (2), George Bernard Shaw, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Moshe Dayan, Winston Churchill, Arturo Toscanini, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Elias Boudinot, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Christopher Columbus, John F. Kennedy, Jawaharial Nehru and Saint Peter for various churches and organizations. The Center for the Study of the Presidency has on exhibit a "larger-than-life-size" pre-presidential bust of Lincoln. The Bronze bust of Shaw was commissioned by the Shaw Society of America and was the award-winning sculpture at the A.A.P.L. Grand National Exhibit in 1978. The Rockefeller bust was cast in bronze and is now in the hall of Vice Presidents in Washington as part of the Senate collection of its presidents. Thus, Calabro joined the ranks of Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Jo Davidson and many others whose works appear in this Senate collection. It was reported that in 1987 "Happy" Rockefeller visited Calabro's studio to approve the clay version of her husband's sculpture. The huge Boudinot bust was made to commemorate America's Bicentennial, honoring this president of the Continental Congress from New Jersey. The statue of St. Peter is 9-feet tall and was carved out of granite in a record time of only 42 days and is located in St. Peter's Episcopal church in Morristown, New Jersey. According to Calabro's wife, granite-carving of this magnitude would normally take about two years. He also made a "heroic-size" sculpture of "Abraham Lincoln, Standing" for Fort Wayne, Indiana. Another was a carved marble bas-relief of Lincoln as President. Calabro was given an A.A.P.L. award for his Edison portraiture at the Grand National Exhibition in 1973

He also created a number of works with coins and medallions depicting people such as Babe Ruth, Louis Armstrong (2), William C. Handy, Thomas Paine, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Petrarch (Italian poet) as well as many other medallions created as special awards. The Paine medallion was commissioned for America's Bicentennial and offered in silver and bronze by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut. The portrait medal of Petrach, whose sonnets influenced Shakespeare's, was commissioned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The official Gerald Ford presidential inauguration medal was minted at the Medallic Art Company and was offered in bronze, silver and gold. The Richard M. Nixon medallion memorialized his "Resignation as President" in 1974. Many of these pieces were commissioned by the Medallic Art Company as well as the Franklin Mint.

One of Calabro's unique qualities was his ability to work is such diverse media. It was said that he could "breathe life in the material" from which he chose to create. He was known as a "kind and gentle man, who loved to dance and play his mandolin." He even wrote compositions for his mandolin. His love for music probably inspired him to do a portraiture of Arturo Toscanini. He was a "gracious man…was generous in discussing his art and explaining its intricate processes." He also enjoyed teaching and was quoted as saying "My greatest joy is to capture the inner soul of the person."

During his final years he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease. Death resulted from pneumonia. He was survived by his wife Anita and sister, Frances Paratore, of Bronx, New York. Funeral services were held in Hackensack, New Jersey on October 30, 1994.

Biography provided by SEAPORT AUTOGRAPHS, Mystic, CT

Ray Boas, Bookseller
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