The Elizabethan Club, affectionately known as “The Lizzie”, is a literary social club built around an exceptional collection of rare books. Especially loved are the first edition Shakespeare manuscripts, housed in a small fortress of a vault with other priceless texts. A daily ritual of afternoon tea (the club’s own hardy English blend) brings members together in a setting that is as full of humor and levity as it is academics.
To honor those members of the Elizabethan Club who have contributed extraordinary services, the Club decided to commission a medal of recognition. A committee was formed, led by famed medal collector and author Stephen Parks, to initiate a competition among medallists. The committee reached out to me to submit a design.
During my visit to the Elizabethan Club to research this medal design I was most inspired by its combination of deep history and lighthearted sense of humor. I delighted in the artworks, caricatures and hidden gems. I marveled at the books and handwritten treasures in the vault. I also noticed the printed material produced by the club had a clean contemporary feel to its spacing and typeface. I sought to portray that balance of reverence with jest and, old with new.
My winning design is based on the club's insignia, Queen Elizabeth's Falcon badge. The badge was originally Anne Boleyn’s badge which was adopted by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth. There are several versions of the falcon but I wanted to offer a completely original, creative interpretation rather than a copy of any existing one. The falcon is modeled after the white Gyrfalcon, favored by Royal English falconers. The third Tudor rose and scepter are replaced by a Lizzie tea cup as a cheeky reference to the daily tea tradition. The handwriting in the background is precisely traced directly from a letter in the club’s collection, hand signed by Queen Elizabeth in 1595. (The letter orders provisions of ordnance for the defense of the northern English garrison cities of Berwick, Carlisle, and Newcastle.)
The reverse side of the medal, featuring the massive vault door mechanism, is decorated with the Queen’s cypher with room for engraving each recipient's name.
The first recipient is the club’s recently retired librarian and dedicated defender of the vault, Stephen Parks. An avid collector of medals himself, Steven was presented with his medal June 24th, 2017. He excited to have a medal inspired by his decades of service to the club.
Deep felt gratitude to Stephen Scher, the committee members, and all at Elizabethan Club who worked with me to make this project happen. Thanks to Medallic Art for their fine craftsmanship.
On a personal note, I’m especially thrilled to create this medal because of my family heritage - I’m a direct descendant, on my Mother’s side, of Rev. James Noyes II, one of the ten founders of Yale. Following James are numerous Yale students and faculty who carry the Noyes legacy. I’m proud to carry on the family connection with Yale University.
A total of twenty medals were struck, each in 10 ounces of pure silver. Nineteen will be set aside for future recipients.
10 oz antiqued silver (bronze artist proof pictured)