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Medal Fragment - 'Dame Pattie Menzies', Andor Mészáros, Australia, 1967 (Bushfire Affected) Numismatics Reg. No: NU 48431

Fragment of bronze medal depicting the sailing yacht Dame Pattie Menzies, designed by Andor Mészáros, 1967. It was found in the ruins of a house in Mt Macedon after the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983, badly damaged but still recognisable.

John Gartner, numismatist, printer and publisher, decided to commission a medal commemorating the 12-metre sailing yacht, named for the wife of Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, which was Australia's entrant in The America's Cup of 1967. The intention was to issue and sell the medal as a gesture of Australian patriotism as well as a desirable addition to a numismatic collection. Andor Mészáros produced the designs and the cast original, but Mr. Gartner decided not to go ahead with the public issue. The decision may have been influenced by the yacht's poor performance, defeated by the American boat Intrepid in all four starts.

John Gartner and his wife Zelma were well-known collectors and their house in Mt Macedon held many valuable objects, including medals by leading medallic sculptors Andor Mészáros and his son Michael Meszaros. 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.
Fragment of round bronze medal with 'filigree' edge and curved surface to show where it has melted over another object. On the obverse of the remaining portion of the medal can be discerned the capital letters DAME and the upper portion of a mast.
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: 150 mm (Height), 122 mm (Width)
Dimension Comment: Irregular due to effect of fire

More information

Tagged with: sailing vessels, bushfires, america s cup yacht race, ash wednesday bushfires 1983, medals, collectors
Themes this item is part of: Andor Mészáros, Medal Artist (1900-1972), Michael Meszaros, Sculptor & Medal Artist (1945-), Migration Collection, Numismatics & Philately Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection, Meszaros Medals Collection
Primary Classification: MEDALS
Secondary Classification: Commemorative
Tertiary Classification: sport
DateEra: 1967 AD
Obverse Description: Irregular fire-damaged section of medal.
Shape: Irregular
Material: Bronze
Commissioned By: John Gartner, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1967
Artist: Andor Mészáros, Victoria, Australia, 1967
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, circa 1967-1983
Previous Owner: Michael Meszaros, Kew, Victoria, Australia, 1983-2012
  1. [Catalogue] Sharples, John P. 1990. Medals as Art: Australia and the Meszaros Tradition.

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