Jenny Lind Medals and Tokens

Westervelt, Leonidas, 1875-1952
Numismatic Notes and Monographs
American Numismatic Society
New York
Worldcat Works




Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.


Table of Contents




By Leonidas Westervelt

Jenny Lind, the famous prima donna, was born at Stockholm, Sweden, October 6th, 1820, in comparatively humble circumstances. She received her dramatic education and early training at the Musical School of the Royal Theatre, where she made her debut in 1838, singing the important r�le of Agatha in Weber's Freisch�tz.

During the following six years she appeared with marked success in Finland, Denmark, Germany and Austria.

Her first great triumph, however, was achieved in 1844 at the Court Theatre, Berlin, where owing to Meyerbeer's influence she had been engaged.

On the 18th of February, 1847, occurred in Vienna the memorable performance of Meyerbeer's Vielka. The chief r�le in this opera had been expressly written for Jenny Lind, and at the final fall of the curtain a graceful compliment awaited her. Radnitzky, on behalf of the music lovers of Vienna, had designed an appropriate and finely conceived medal I (see No. 17), which, struck in gold, was presented to the young Songstress, together with a scroll, encircled by a silver laurel wreath, bearing the signatures of leaders in the Viennese Art-world.

The prima donna's noted London debut took place on May 4th of the same year. She had chosen the part of Alice in Roberto il Diavolo, one of her most successful r�les, and the crush caused by those who clamored to hear her is said to have been terrific. The Queen, the Prince Consort, the Queen Dowager, and other members of the Royal Family were present, as well as representatives from almost every important family in London. The entire performance appears to have called forth one long-sustained ovation.

To mark this epochal event in Jenny Lind's career, an artistic medal was struck by Allen and Moore of Birmingham (see No. 25).

The following Spring, at the request of King Oscar I of Sweden, Jenny Lind returned to Stockholm, the city which ay so close to her heart, for a brief engagement at the Royal Theatre. She was to give eight concerts, only; the tickets were put up at auction, and the entire profits generously donated by her to the fund for the education and support of pupils of the Royal Theatre School. Thus did the Nightingale charmingly pay a debt of gratitude to the theatre which first gave her voice to the world.

In June, 1848, she received a tribute illustrating in a remarkable manner the deep-felt affection of her co-patriots. A portrait medal (see No. 1), dignified in conception and graceful in line—much the finest, in our opinion, of all the Jenny Lind medals—was designed by the famous Swedish medallist Quarnstrom, and struck in gold, in silver and in bronze at the Royal Mint. The medals were presented to the Songstress with an address signed by the King, the Royal Family, and almost every person of prominence in Stockholm's c�terie of Art and Music.

These three medals were treasured by the recipient throughout her life, and were left to the National Museum in Stockholm, where they now are.

January 9th, 1850, was a most important day in the career of Jenny Lind, since it was then she signed the contract for an American concert tour under P. T. Barnum's management; a venture which was to bring her fresh laurels and a substantial fortune.

When we consider how she had set all Europe aflame; had been admitted to be the greatest of living singers by the first musical critics of England, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark, and even by a large portion of the critical press of Paris; when we read how people fought to hear her in London; how in Berlin, bouquets were thrown at her feet; how in Vienna, the students unhitched the horses of her carriage and drew her through the streets in triumph; how the Queen Dowager of Sweden opened her jewel casket that jenny might choose a souvenir; it is hard to believe that millions of Americans scarcely knew her name.

Notwithstanding this, Mr. Barnum risked a guarantee of $187,500 before the prima donna set sail. But in his memoirs, he frankly and shrewdly explains his reasons for the venture,—which ultimately proved so enormously profitable: "I may as well state, that although I relied prominently upon Jenny Lind's reputation as a great musical artiste, I also took largely into my estimate of her success with all classes of the American public, her character for extraordinary benevolence and generosity. Without this peculiarity in her disposition, I never would have dared make the engagement which I did."

An observant reporter who interviewed Jenny about the time of her arrival in America furnishes us with a colorful word-picture of her charming appearance: "Her figure is commanding, her action majestic, and her voice the freshest and sweetest ever heard. Her face which is of an oval cast, has all the characteristics of a Northern clime; and one can scarcely fail to recognize the unmistakable lineaments of birth and country. Though lacking what the world calls 'beauty', her face is nevertheless extremely pleasing and strongly indicative of a pure and noble character which finds expression in a clear open brow, an eye of peculiar brightness, and a sweet kind smile seems forever to linger around her small and well formed mouth. "If we add to that, luxurious clusters of auburn hair, and hands and feet of extreme smallness, and beauty, you have a faint but in some measure truthful sketch of sweet, charming, generous, Jenny Lind."

Thousands of people are said to have covered the shipping and piers in the neighborhood of Canal Street, and the wharf was packed with wildly cheering humanity as the S. S. Atlantic, which brought her, swung into its berth. The ever prompt Mr. Barnum had already boarded the steamer by means of a launch, and standing by the side of his noted visitor, benignly received his full share of the plaudits.

Mr. Nathaniel Parker Willis, Editor of the Home Journal, and quite a beau of the period, no doubt was among the throng on the pier, for he describes Jenny's arrival in a good naturedly caustic paragraph: "All the stars in the Union have dimmed before the star of Jenny Lind. She walked like a conqueror from the ship to the dock-gates under an arcade of evergreens—and at its entrance the American eagle (stuffed) offered her flowers. All New York hung around her chariot on its way to the Irving House where she was lodged like a princess; and at midnight thirty thousand persons hovered about her hotel. At one in the morning, one hundred and fifty musicians came up to serenade her, led by seven hundred firemen, to pump upon the enthusiasm, we suppose, in case it should get red hot."

The days that followed must have been exciting ones for the Songstress. Accustomed as she was to homage, the furore she created in New York City and in other American cities seems to have al- most swept her off her feet. Indeed, she soon was obliged to leave the Irving House and take lodgings in a quieter part of the city, to escape an avalanche of invitations and attentions.

We hear of a glove supposed to be hers being sold at a good round price; of her shawl which happened to drop from a balcony, being instantly torn into shreds by the overzealous crowd below.

"Everything for sale has 'Jenny' to it!" remarked a lady in one of the shops. Judging from the following amusing news items, clipped from contemporary Boston papers, we are inclined to agree with her.

One enterprising Journal advertises a 'Jenny Lind tea kettle', which being filled with water and placed on the fire "commences to sing in a few minutes"!

"A provision dealer at Lynn," says the Post, "sells 'Jenny Lind sausages.'"

"On Washington street, near the Rox-bury line, there is a bar-room just opened, under the name of 'Jenny Lind Hotel.'"

"Our foreman," avers a well known periodical, "made his appearance this morning with a red and black plaid coat, which our 'devil' soon christened as the 'Jenny Lind coat'. If this is not the age of progress, what is it?"

Even the Editors, usually sedate and sober-minded, appear to have temporarily suffered from "Jenny Lind mania".

"Jenny Lind", declares an important weekly, "is the most popular woman in the world; at the present moment, perhaps the most popular that ever was in it." The same paper speaks of the Nightingale's warblings as notes "which she spins out from her throat like the attenuated fibre from the silkworm, dying away so sweetly and so gradually, till it seems melting into the song of the seraphim, and is lost in eternity ". To turn once more to the serious side of the prima donna's career, her first American concert was held in Castle Garden on Wednesday evening, September the 11th, 1850. Under Mr. Barnum's direction the 4,484 tickets were sold at public auction, the average price paid per ticket being $6.38. The entire amount received was $17,864.05. Mr. John N. Gennin bid in the first ticket for $225; regarding this incident, it is an open secret that he acted on the advice of the wily Mr. Barnum. The benefit derived was mutual however, since Gennin's name appeared in every paper in the Union and his reputation as a fashionable hatter was permanently established.

The immense success made by the Nightingale in her first concert is a matter of history and need not be dwelt on here, but it is interesting to note that true to her generous heart and wide sympathy, she freely gave her entire share of the proceeds of this concert and the second, over $10,000, to charitable institutions in New York City.

Mr. Barnum displayed his Yankee shrewdness by quickly taking advantage of the advertising value of this act; the medal struck under his supervision is characteristic of the showmen's craft (see No. 4). For the obverse, he freely borrowed the head on Radnitzky medal (see No. 17); the reverse, forcibly emphasizes the success of the first Castle Garden concert, and Jenny's benevolent gift. This medal, struck in white metal, undoubtedly sold in large numbers as an interesting souvenir.

After "taking New York City by song", Jenny Lind visited Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, Washington and other prominent cities in the West and South, also journeying to Cuba where she remained a month. Everywhere she met with pronounced success and unqualified praise from both public and critics.

At the termination of the ninety-fifth concert she permanently concluded her engagement with Mr. Barnum, as a clause in the contract enabled her to do, and continued the tour under her own management.

On February 5th, 1852, while in Boston, she was married to Mr. Otto Goldschmidt, a friend of her girlhood, and a musician of note who had been her accompanist during the latter part of the American tour.

In the spring, Jenny Lind Goldschmidt passed through England on her way to Germany. She gave occasional concerts in German and Austrian cities, and in 1863 once more delighted her admirers in London at an historic revival of Handel's music to the Allegro and the Penseroso of Milton.

During all her wanderings and triumphs, the Nightingale never forgot the city of her birth. She was made a member of the Royal Musical Academy of Stockholm in 1840, and in 1883, she returned to serve there as Professor of Singing for a term of three years.

Her death occurred at her home, among the beautiful Gloucestershire hills of England, November 2nd, 1887.

As a mark of appreciation of the untiring and devoted service of Jenny Lind Goldschmidt, the Academy in 1891 caused a very beautiful portrait memorial medal to be struck in her honor. (See No. 2.) It was designed by Adolf Lindberg, Engraver of medals to the King of Sweden, and struck in gold and in silver at the Royal Swedish Mint.


1 Portrait Memorial Medal.

Obv. Draped bust, to left; legend, JENNY——LIND. Below, close to border at right, name of the engraver, P. H. LUND-GREN, FEC.; at left, name of designer, C. G. QUARNSTROM , INV. Plate I

Rev. Four symbolic figures — Genius of Song (with harp) is seated on throne, Patriotism (with shield and palm) stands right, Charity (holding child) left, and Gratitude, bearing a wreath of immortelles, kneels at foot of throne; and inscribed on its base, the date 3 DEC. 1847 | D. 12 APRIL. 1848. In exergue, MINNESG�RD | AF TONKONSTENS V�NNER | I STOCKHOLM—In memory of the friends of Lyric Art in Stockholm. The whole within a border of eight laurel wreaths, alternating with eight harps; ribbon streamers between. In the wreaths are inscribed the chief operatic r�les sung by Jenny Lind, viz: NORMA —LUCIE—AGATHA—AMINA—SUSANNA— ALICE—MARIE—ADINA.

Size 78 mm. Bronze. Plate II

Struck at the Royal Swedish Mint in 1848.

Ludwig Petersen Lundgren, the engraver of the medal was Mint-engraver at Stockholm, 1818-1854.

The two dates given on the medal were the dates of the gifts (approximately $9,165), made by Jenny Lind out of the profits of her last operatic season in Sweden, to the fund for the education and support of pupils of the Royal Theatre School.

Medals from this design were struck in gold, silver and bronze. They were presented to Jenny Lind in the spring of 1848, accompanied by the following address which bore the signatures of the King of Sweden, the Royal Family, and representatives of every important house-hold in Stockholm:

"To Jenny Lind

"The lovers of music at Stockholm have during the present spring, as well as during the winter season of 1847-1848 enjoyed a succession of memorable feasts, at which they have admired alike the Artist's genius, and the nobility of heart wherewith she had dedicated her triumphs exclusively to charity and benevolence, and has thereby testified that the aim of true Art is something higher than to please and to astonish.

"Having been privileged to witness these festivals of Art where the beauty of the soul found its expression through the medium of song, the lovers and friends of music are desirous that the great Artist, on leaving her native country, should carry away with her some outward token of this period of her life, of which the inner memory, which is at all times the companion of virtue, will follow her through life; until that other world is unveiled to her, of which she has been the messenger to us through the language of music.

"The undersigned have received the agreeable charge of handing to her this simple souvenir."

2 Prize Medal of the Royal Musical Academy, Stockholm .

Obv. Draped bust, to left; legend, JENNY LIND × GOLDSCHMIDT, F�DD 6 OKT. 1820 D�D 2 NOV. 1887 — Born Oct. 6th, 1820; died Nov. 2nd, 1887. In field, back of neck, the name of the designer, Adolf Lindberg,

Rev. The Goddess of Genius and Art seated to right, inscribing a name on a tablet with a stylus. On the left is a laurel branch and a lyre; on the right, an incense brazier and two books. Above Symbolic Figure, close to border, ANDA � OCH × KONST — The Spirit of Art. In the exergue, af KONGL × MUSIKALISKA AKADEMIEN — By the Royal Musical Academy. The name of the designer is repeated close to the border at left.

Size 50 mm. Gold. Silver. Plate III

Struck by the Royal Musical Academy in 1891 at the Swedish Mint.

Adolf Lindberg, the designer was Professor of drawing at the official School of Art in Stockholm; also, "Engraver of Medals" to the King of Sweden.

3 As last. Bronze.

4 Memorial Medal.

Obv. Head to left; legend, JENNY —— LIND .

Rev. Inscription in two concentric circles, and four parallel lines in field; a star above first parallel line: FIRST CONCERT IN AMERICA | PROCEEDS 35,000 DOLLARS —— AT CASTLE GARDEN | N. Y. SEP. II. 1850 | ATTENDED BY | 7,000 PEOPLE —— $12,500 GIVEN BY MISS LIND TO CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS

Size 42 mm. White metal. Struck in New York, 1850. Plate IV

5 As last. Bronze.

6 As last.

Size 40 mm. Cream colored composition.

7 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. Head to left similar to preceding; legend, JENNY —— LIND. On truncation of neck, the name of the die-sinker, LAUER.

Rev. JETON, lettering slightly oblique, encircled by two branches of oak leaves joined below by a knot of ribbon.

Size 22 mm. Gilt bronze. Plate V

Struck in Nuremberg.

Ludwig Christopher Lauer was a celebrated medallist and counter-manufacturer of Nuremberg, 1848-1873.

A similar jeton but with laurel branches instead of oak branches is reported. See Andorfer and Epstein's Musica in Nummis, p. 191.

8 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. As last, but unsigned, and with milled border.

Rev. The word JETON in upright letters instead of slightly oblique; oak branches more bushy. Milled border.

Redder in color, containing more copper alloy. Slightly thicker.

9 Jeton or Card Counter. Similar to No. 7.

Size 19 mm. Brass. By Lauer.

10 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. Similar to No. 7.

Rev. A spread eagle supporting a United States shield, and holding in its talons a branch of laurel and a bundle of arrows. Above, JN UNITATE FORTITU —— DO — In Unity there is Strength. Below, 1850.

Size 22 mm. White metal. By Lauer.

Plate V

A specimen of this medal without signature is reported. See Andorfer and Epstein's Musica in Nummis. Note to No. 380.

11 As last. Copper. By Lauer.

12 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. Similar to No. 7.

Rev. Within a laurel wreath, TENDIT AD ASTRA — She directs her course toward the stars.

Size 22 mm. Copper. By Lauer.

Plate V

13 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. Similar to No. 7.

Rev. Within a wreath of laurel and oak branches tied with a knot, SPIEL-| PFENNIG.

Size 21 mm. Brass. By Lauer.

Plate VI

14 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. As last. (Not signed.)

Rev. Within laurel wreath, SPIEL MARKE.

Size 20 mm. Metal not mentioned. By Lauer. See Andorfer and Epstein's Musica in Nummis. No. 977.

15 Jeton or Card Counter.

Obv. Similar to No. 7.

Rev. Maltese cross surrounded by rays within a laurel wreath. WER WAGT * GEWINNT—Nothing venture, nothing have. At bottom, rosette between two small stars.

Dentelated borders on obverse and reverse.

Size 16 1/2 mm. Brass. Plate VI

16 Commemorative Medal.

Obv. Head to left. Legend JENNY LIND behind the head, close to border. At base of neck is the name of the designer, C. RADNITZKY.

Rev. A swan, the emblem of song, with branch of laurel; above, the motto NESCIT * OCCASUM — Her star remains in the ascendant. Below, DER | HOHEN KUNSTLERIN | IHRE BEGEISTERTEN |VEREHRER | MDCCCXLVII | WIEN—To the famous Artist, from her enthusiastic admirers; Vienna, 1847.

Size 43 mm. Gold.

This medal was presented to Jenny Lind on the evening of the first performance of Meyerbeer's opera, "Vielka," (composed expressly for her) in Vienna, Feb. 18, 1847.

C. Radnitzky, the designer of the medal, was one of the most talented medallists of his generation. He was born in Vienna, 1818, and died in 1901.

17 As last, dark red composition.

Plate VII

18 Memorial Medal.

Obv. As last, but the legend JENNY LIND is in front of the head and is followed by a small ornamental scroll. Date, 1850, at back of neck.


Raised border, obverse and reverse.

Size 40 mm. Bronze. Plate VIII

Struck in America, 1850.

The head on the obverse of this medal was copied from the Vienna medal. (No. 16.) The quotation on the reverse is from Milton's COMUS; lines 262-264.

19 As last. White metal.

20 Jeton.

Obv. Similar to No. 4.

Rev. Similar to No. 16, except that the inscription below swan is omitted. Size 19 mm. Brass. By Lauer.

21 As last. White metal.

22 Medal.

Obv. Similar to No. 4.

Rev. TO THE QUEEN OF SONG, in laurel wreath.

Size 14 mm. Milled edge. Silver.

Plate VI

23 Medal.

Obv. Head and bust facing front. Legend, JENNY LIND.

Size 67 mm. Copper shell.

24 Medal.

Obv. Similar to No. 23.

Rev. Blank.

Size 65 mm. White metal coppered.

25 Commemorative Medal.

Obv. Head and shoulders facing front. Legend, JENNY——LIND Date under right arm close to border, 1847.

Rev. Lyre surrounded by cluster of lilies and roses; nightingale resting on top twig. Legend, above, NESCIT * OCCA-SUM; below, NATA 1821.

Ornamental border, obverse and reverse.

Size 54 mm. White metal. Plate IX

Struck in Birmingham, England.

This medal was struck to commemorate Jenny Lind's triumphant debut at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, May 4th, 1847. The year of Jenny Lind's birth as stated on this medal (1821) is erroneous. She was born on October 6th, 1820. (See No. 2.)

26 Similar to No. 25.

Size 55 mm. White metal gilded.

27 Similar to No. 25.

Size 54 mm. 6 mm. thick. Bronze.

28 Similar to No. 25.

Obv. Date tinder right arm omitted. Size 27 mm. Copper.

29 As last. Bronze.

30 Similar to No. 25, except under right arm instead of date, initials A & M — Allen & Moore, the die-sinker's mark. Size 45 mm. White metal.

Allen & Moore of Great Hampton Row, Birmingham, England—afterwards Joseph Moore, Sumner Lane and Pitsford St., have an excellent record in die-sinking, dating from about 1850. They may be regarded as following the best nineteenth century artists of the Birmingham school.

31 Similar to No. 30.

Size 38 1/2 mm.

32 Jeton.

Obv. Similar to No. 25.

Rev. Similar to No. 25, but nightingale omitted.

Size 22 mm. Brass.

No. 2 is in the Royal Musical Academy, Stockholm; Nos. 3, 18, 26 and 27 are in the British Museum, London; Nos. 6, 15, 22 and 31 are from the collection of the American Numismatic Society, New York City; Nos. 9, 13, 23, 24 and 28 are from the collection of Mr. Elliott Smith; No. 19 is from the collection of Mr. C. N. Hinckley; the remainder are from the collection of the author.



















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