Similar items over time

Medal - Portrait of Zelma Gartner, Andor Mészáros, Australia, 1964 (Bushfire Affected) Numismatics Reg. No: NU 48428

Bronze portrait medal of Zelma Gartner, designed by Andor Mészáros and minted in 1964. It was found in the ruins of John and Zelma's home in Mt Macedon after the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983, damaged but still recognisable.

Zelma Gartner was married to well-known numismatist and collector John Gartner. In 1959 John commissioned Andor's son Michael Meszaros to produce a medal portrait of John; this became Michael's first professional commission. Several years later Andor produced this portrait of Zelma as a companion piece. The portraits were mounted on a wooden plaque and hung in the house.

John Gartner and his wife Zelma were both collectors and their house in Mt Macedon held many valuable objects, including medals by Andor and Michael. The house and its contents were destroyed by the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 16 February 1983, and the Gartner's barely escaped with their lives. This medal was one of the few recognisable pieces retrieved from the ashes of the fire. It was given to Michael Meszaros after the fires and lay in his studio for 28 years before being donated to the museum.
Round bronze medal with head of a woman with short hair in left profile, modelled in low relief. There is an inscription (fire-damaged) around the left edge in capital letters, and the artist's signature appears in the lower right quadrant. One of two bronze mounting pins remains on the reverse.
Statement Of Significance:
John and Zelma Gartner were well-known collectors in the fields of numismatics, philately and the decorative arts. When their house in Mt Macdeon burned on Ash Wednesday, the loss of their collections was a blow not only to themselves but to the fields in which they were known. This fragment, retrieved from the ashes of the house, signifies the loss of valuable objects both personal and cultural in many people's homes. The fact that it was returned to the artist's son, who kept it for 28 years before donating it, is a testament to the enduring connection that people forge with objects, even when those objects are changed or destroyed.

For over half a century, sculptors Andor (1900-1973) and Michael (1945- ) Meszaros have created medals that reflect the high points of life in Australia. From major awards and portraits of eminent Australians to artwork celebrating popular culture and the natural world, these objects illuminate our culture and history. Grounded in a centuries-old European art tradition, the medals create connections across disciplines and link such diverse subjects as scientific advances, religious themes, sport, the performing arts and motherhood. Through their public and private commissions and their personal artworks, the Meszaros sculptors have defined the modern Australian medal.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Michael Meszaros, 2010
Discipline: Numismatics
Dimensions: 120 mm (Height), 118 mm (Width), 12 mm (Diameter)
Dimension Comment: Irregular circle due to effects of fire

More information

Tagged with: bushfires, portrait medals, ash wednesday bushfires 1983, medals, collectors
Themes this item is part of: Royal Mint, Melbourne Branch, Melbourne, Victoria, Branch Mints of the Royal Mint, Deputy Masters of the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Mint, Closure of Melbourne Mint, Melbourne Mint during World War II, Establishment of Melbourne Mint, 1872, Melbourne Mint, Michael Meszaros, Sculptor & Medal Artist (1945-), Andor Mészáros, Medal Artist (1900-1972), Migration Collection, Numismatics & Philately Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection, Meszaros Medals Collection
Primary Classification: MEDALS
Secondary Classification: Portrait
Tertiary Classification: (to be classified)
DateEra: 1964 AD
Obverse Description: Head of woman facing left. Around , ZELMA / 1964. Below right, ANDOR / MÉSZÁROS.
Reverse Description: The reverse is hollow and has pins for mounting on a wooden support.
Inscriptions: ZELMA / 1964. ANDOR / MÉSZÁROS.
Shape: round
Material: Bronze
Issued By: Royal Mint, Melbourne Branch, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1964
Artist: Andor Mészáros, Victoria, Australia, 1964
Person Depicted: Mrs Zelma Gartner, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1964
Place & Date of Event: Mt Macedon, Victoria, Australia, 16 Feb 1983

Date medal damaged in Ash Wednesday Bushfires
Previous Owner: John Gartner, Mt Macedon, Victoria, Australia, 1964-1983
Previous Owner: Michael Meszaros, Kew, Victoria, Australia, 1983-2012
  1. [Catalogue] Sharples, John P. 1990. Medals as Art: Australia and the Meszaros Tradition.

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.
Yes No