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    Description

    1953 Newsday Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal
    Likely the First Ever Offered

    1953 Newsday Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal. 14-kt gold, 66.5 mm, 143.3 gm. Edge inscribed "MEDALLIC ART CO. N.Y. 14KT." Heritage is privileged to offer not one, not two, but three gold Pulitzer Prize medals, each awarded decades ago to Newsday for public service. According to the Pulitzer website, www.pulitzer.org, in 20 of the 21 Pulitzer categories, winners receive a $10,000 cash award and a certificate. Only the winner in the remaining public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal. The public service prize is awarded solely to newspapers, not to individuals, although individuals may be named in the citation.
    Based in Long Island (Suffolk County), New York, Newsday calls itself "the voice of Long Island and America's sixth-largest regional newspaper (eighth overall)." Our consignor obtained these medals in 2001 from an estate liquidation sale in Nassau County which, together with Suffolk County, constitutes Long Island.
    The 1954 award (for 1953 reportage) was made for Newsday's exposé of New York State's racetrack scandals and labor racketeering, which led to the extortion indictment, guilty plea, and imprisonment of William C. DeKoning, Sr. According to his Oct. 28, 1957, obituary in Time: [DeKoning was] "a shrewd, tough ('I ain't afraid of no one') Long Island labor hustler and strong-arm boy, convicted of extortion in 1954 after a four-year crusade by Long Island's Newsday (for which it won the Pulitzer Prize); of chronic hepatitis; in Mineola, N.Y. A.F.L. Organizer De Koning bullied his way from Local 138 of the International Union of Operating Engineers into a prosperous, politically insured Nassau County kingdom, reputedly decided who could or could not construct a new housing development. Expanding in 1943 to catch some of Roosevelt Raceway's runaway revenue, he raked in kickbacks from nearly everybody, erected the Labor Lyceum, containing a meeting hall, restaurant and Long Island's biggest bar (where union members spent liberally to stay in his good graces), had his union help build him a lavish home."
    Obverse: Around the periphery, FOR DISINTERESTED AND MERITORIOUS PUBLIC SERVICE. In four lines, RENDERED BY A / UNITED STATES NEWSPAPER / DURING THE YEAR / 1953. The date 1953 is incused and hand-stamped into the medal. Bottom: JOSEPH PULITZER MEDAL. The central figure is a high-relief figure of a barechested man operating an archaic printing press. Monogram D.C.F. in small letters with stylized "A" (artist?) below. At bottom, JOSEPH PULITZER MEDAL.
    Reverse: Figure of Benjamin Franklin in profile left, with HONORIS / CAUSA on either side. Below, AWARDED BY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY / TO / NEWSDAY, the last incused and hand-stamped.
    Both sides of this large and heavy 14-kt gold medal are essentially in as-struck condition, with no mentionable defects save for a minuscule rim bump at PU of PUBLIC. There is some slight mellowing of the original golden luster. The obverse was designed in 1917 by Exeter, New Hampshire, native Daniel Chester French, whose family counted among their friends Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. Reverse design by Henry Augustus Lukeman. Comes with original box of issue, stamped in gilt with "Medallic Art Co. New York."
    The gold medal for newspaper journalism is the most prestigious of the Pulitzer prizes. To our knowledge and that of other industry experts with whom we have consulted, including Dick Johnson, who was a principal with Medallic Arts Co. for 10 years (1966-1976), this represents the first time that even a single example of the Pulitzer Prize gold medal has ever been offered at auction, much less three such phenomenally rare pieces. (NGC ID# 2TGG, PCGS# 661340)


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2007
    27th-28th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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