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HAPPY 450th BIRTHDAY MR SHAKESPEARE! April 23

For the 400th birthday of William Shakespeare in 1964 and the opening of the new Shakespeare Centre in Stratford upon Avon,  the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust commissioned the medallist Paul Vincze to make a general commemorative medal.

William Shakespeare 400th anniversary medal by Paul Vincze 50mm. bronze

William Shakespeare 400th anniversary medal by Paul Vincze 50mm. bronze

The reverse of the medal contains the quotation from the great Shakespearian actor and interpreter David Garrick:  We shall not look upon his like again.  

Paul Vincze was born in Galgagyork, Hungary on 15 August 1907.He studied at the State School of Arts and Crafts, Budapest, and later with Ede Telcs, a renowned Hungarian medallist and portraitist early part of 20th century whose medals we’ve featured from time to time.  Vincze then studied in Rome from 1935-1937 but fled to England in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution, becoming a British subject in 1948.

Reverse of 400th anniversary Shakespeare commemorative, bronze

Reverse of 400th anniversary Shakespeare commemorative, bronze

Vincze’s works include portraits of Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation,  prize medals for the US Smithsonian institute and the American Jewish Historical Society.  He was also a prolific designer of coinage.

Vincze was also commissioned to design a series of medals, showing scenes from each of Shakespeare’s plays.  In all 36 designs were produced, one for each play with the exception of Two Noble Kinsmen and Henry IV part II.

If you look on the Shakespeare Trust’s Museum website you’ll find that they were issued either singly or in sets of 4 medals, the same design but in different metals; bronze, gilt bronze, silver and gold.

Balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet as imagined by Vincze, bronze medal 1964

Balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet as imagined by Vincze, bronze medal 1964

Recently we bought a cache of Vincze medals with about 20 different designs from the plays, ranging from Romeo and Juliet, with the famous balcony scene to the very last plays such as the Tempest and Henry VIII.  The latter when produced in 1613 at the Globe Theatre had a cannon used to provide special effects.  Unfortunately a spark set the place alight and burned down the theatre.

Some scenes are very familiar, such as Hamlet finding the skull of his old friend and jester Yorick or Macbeth with the witches.  Others were less familiar, like the more difficult tragedies and obscure histories.  All the medals that we have for sale are on our website now on the Medals/Fixed Price page.

Shakespeare's Henry VIII with Cardinal Wolsey and Queen Katherine, bronze medal 50mm, by Vincze

Shakespeare’s Henry VIII with Cardinal Wolsey and Queen Katherine, bronze medal 50mm, by Vincze

Paul Vincze also produced a series of Zodiac medals, some of which we have in their original format although they’ve since been produced as fobs and pendants.  He died in the south of France at Magagnosc on 5 March 1994.

Self-portrait medal of the portraitist Paul Vincze, 1977, bronze

Self-portrait medal of the portraitist Paul Vincze, 1977, bronze

Vincze's Zodiac series and selection of Shakespeare play designs on reverse of his self-portrait medal, 1977.

Vincze’s Zodiac series and selection of Shakespeare play designs on reverse of his self-portrait medal, 1977.

One Response so far.

  1. Al Hill says:

    Good morning. I have just found two old Shakespeare medals by Paul Vincze. I am not too sure if the are bronze or silver, as when I look on line both look very similar. On depicts Macbeth & the othe Julius Caesar. I am assuming they are from the 400th anniversary, but wondered if someone could give me more detail.

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