Obituary: Robert A. Weinman, 1915-2003

1987, for the Society of Medalists, AE, 69 mm (ANS 1987.159.1, gift of the Society of Medalists)

One of America’s leading 20th-century medallic artists, and a unique friend of the American Numismatic Society, has passed away at 88 years of age. Robert Alexander Weinman died of congestive heart failure at his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Sunday, September 7, 2003. The younger son of the noted sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870-1952), Robert had followed in his father’s footsteps and opened his own studio in New York City in 1948. There, he worked until 1972, when he moved his studio to Bedford, New York. Weinman retired to Winston-Salem in 1998.

In addition to assisting in his father’s studio, Weinman studied at the Art Student’s League and the National Academy of Design under Paul Manship, C. Paul Jennewein, Edward McCartan, Walker Hancock and Lee Lawrie. A veteran of World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945.

Weinman was a past president and honorary president of the National Sculpture Society, which awarded him its Gold Medal in 1997. He was also an Academician of the National Academy of Design and served on the executive board of this organization. Serving as the chairman of the five-member panel of judges, Robert Weinman supervised the selection of the designs for the nation’s three Bicentennial coins. The collection of his papers, from 1935-1971, is in the Archives of American Art, at the Smithsonian Institution.

“Bobbie”, nd, CU, 85 mm, by Adolf Alexander Weinman, (ANS 1976.263.73, gift of R.A. Weinman)

Like his father, Robert Weinman was a long-time friend and benefactor of the American Numismatic Society. He was a Life Fellow of the Society, as well as a major supporter and donor. The Society awarded him its highest honor, the J. Sanford Saltus Award Medal (which his father had also received, in 1920), for “outstanding achievement in the art of the medal” in 1964, and named him Sculptor of the Year in 1975. Later, he chaired the Saltus Medal Award Committee, which selects the most outstanding medallic sculptors to receive this prestigious recognition.

Among Weinman’s creative works are award medals for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Institute of Architects, the American Chemical Society, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, the National Science Foundation, the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and Thiel College. For New York University, he designed the Albert Gallatin Medal as well as issues for the Hall of Fame of Great Americans. Some of Weinman’s other popular medals are issues honoring such athletes as Henry Aaron, Jack Nicklaus, “Babe” Ruth, Jim Thorpe and “Babe” Zaharias for the Hall of Champions series. His work is also represented in the series of the National Commemorative Society.

Many of Robert Weinman’s medals were minted by the Medallic Art Company, among them such corporate issues as those for Merck and Company, Studebaker Transportation, and Union Mutual Life Insurance. Much of his sculptural talent expressed itself in memorials to celebrated individuals; we find Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and George Washington among these, as well as other historical personages such as Amelia Earhart, William Penn and Roger Williams—not to mention fellow medallic sculptor Ralph Menconi.

William Penn Tricentenial Medal, 1982, AE, 76mm (ANS 1998.26.25, gift of R.A. Weinman)

Over a span of more than 20 years, Weinman presented important donations of material to the ANS cabinet, ranging from his own medallic works through those of others that he had collected himself. This panorama of accessions includes original sketches, galvanoes and plaster models. Some of the most cherished items are works by his father and by his brother Howard.

Robert Weinman’s survivors include his wife Jane M. Weinman of Winston-Salem; sons Paul of Advance, North Carolina, and Christopher of Norwich, Vermont; daughter-in-law Maribeth of Winston-Salem; and grandsons Mark, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, David, of Philadelphia, Stephen, of Chapel Hill, and Zachary, of Winston-Salem.

Obituary information provided by Christopher Weinman.

—Robert Wilson Hoge