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    Description

    1970 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal Awarded to Newsday
    for Journalism in the Public Service

    1970 Newsday Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal. 14-kt gold, 66.5 mm, 141.2 gm, dated 1970. Edge inscribed "MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. 14KT." The second of three prestigious Pulitzer Prize gold medals that Heritage is privileged to offer, bought by our consignor in a Nassau County, Long Island, estate liquidation sale in 2001. The gold medals awarded by the Pulitzer Prizes are solely for public service in the journalism category, always to newspapers, and as such they represent the crème de la crème of Pulitzer awards and are extremely rare. This is, as far as we have been able to establish after consulting with leading industry experts, the first time that even a single Pulitzer Prize gold medal has been offered at public auction.
    Awarded to Newsday in 1970, the gold Pulitzer Prize medal is for Newsday's three-year investigation and exposure of secret land deals in eastern Long Island, which led to a series of criminal convictions, discharges, and resignations among public and political officeholders in the area, according to the Pulitzer Prize website. Through cronyism and the use of insider knowledge, public officials lined their pockets through selective and profitable rezonings as a wave of population growth swept eastward across Long Island after World War II.
    In 1967 Newsday tied an Islip town councilman and town attorney to secret land deals on which they profited, leading to one-year jail terms for each of them.
    The 1968 reportage centered on two Brookhaven town councilmen who voted for a mall rezoning despite their involvement with two private firms that profited to the extent of more than $700,000 in construction business. One was acquitted, later pleading guilty to a misdemeanor income tax charge for which he was fined $2,500. The other died before his case came to trial. Newsday also revealed that town Republican leader Richard Zeidler profited by helping to place a county well near land in which he had a concealed interest, although he was chairman of the county water authority.
    Newsday's 1969 coverage revealed questionable practices of Babylon Republican leader Fred Fellman at a trailer park he ran. Fellman later pleaded guilty to grand larceny and served a jail term.
    According to the Newsday website, "Perhaps more important than the few jail sentences, the long investigation pioneered document-based investigative reporting, led to some tightening of laws and showed Long Islanders the underlying corruption."
    Obverse: Around the periphery, FOR DISINTERESTED AND MERITORIOUS PUBLIC SERVICE. In four lines, RENDERED BY A / UNITED STATES NEWSPAPER / DURING THE YEAR / 1970. The date 1970 is incused into the master die, while the 70 is incused and hand-stamped into the medal. There are tiny die markers, comma-shaped flaws, at the top loop of the 9 and its descender. 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. (for designer Daniel Chester French) 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. There is a tiny nick in the reverse rim at 6:30.
    The medal is essentially as struck, obviously lovingly preserved since its issue, with brilliant luster on both sides of the yellow-gold surfaces.
    The obverse was designed in 1917 by Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). One of French's best-known works is his sculpture of the seated Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. That edifice, and French's famous depiction of Lincoln, are of course on the reverse of the present Lincoln cent design. French was also chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts in 1915, and served on the commission during the selection of numismatic artists for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.
    Another well-known early work of French is the Minuteman statue in Concord, New Hampshire, commissioned when French was only 23 years old.
    The reverse design of Benjamin Franklin is from French's student Henry Augustus Lukeman (1871-1935), a specialist in historical monuments, who also worked for a time on the sculptures at Stone Mountain, Georgia, begun by Gutzon Borglum. (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: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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