Gold Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor Presented to Owen Wister - Case of Issue
Lot 1432
Gold Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor Presented to Owen Wister - Case of Issue
Sold for US$ 21,645 inc. premium
Auction Details
Gold Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor Presented to Owen Wister - Case of Issue Roosevelt Medal of Honor awarded to Owen Wister by Teddy Roosevelt Roosevelt Medal of Honor awarded to Owen Wister by Teddy Roosevelt
Lot Details
Gold Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor Presented to Owen Wister - Case of Issue
Diameter: 3.25 inches, weight: 374.8 grams. The obverse features a bust of Theodore Roosevelt facing right, FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE is above, JE FRASER 1920 (the designer) is to the left, and MDCCCLVIII (1858) MCMXIX (1919) is to the lower right. On the reverse, ROOSEVELT MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION MEDAL OF HONOR circles the peripheral area, with the legend IF I MUST CHOOSEBETWEEN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE I CHOOSE RIGHTEOUNESS. Each side presents an "as issued" appearance with no wear or distractions evident. The deep golden medal presents a matte-like appearance and is complete with its original leather embossed case of issue. This rare medal has been in the possession of Owen Wister's family since it was issued to him in 1929 by James Garfield, President of the Roosevelt Association. Garfield was the son of the late James A. Garfield and served as the Secretary of the Interior during the Roosevelt administration. To date, only 135 Theodore Distinguished Service Medals have been awarded. An extremely rare offering at public auction.


  • OWEN WISTER 1860-1938
    American writer whose stories helped to establish the cowboy as an archetypical, individualist hero. Wister and his predecessor James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) created the basic Western myths and themes, which were later popularized by such writers as Zane Grey and Max Brand. But before Wister, Theodore Roosevelt published his book The Winning of the West (1889-1896) to make clear the meaning of the land beyond the Mississippi to the whole country, and Mark Twain and Bret Harte wrote their stories about frontiersmen. In art, Frederic Remington, born and raised in the East, and Charles M. Russell, who worked as a cowboy, contributed to the image of cowboy life. Although Westerns are normally set in the 19th-century, they are not considered simply historical novel, but special kind of moral tales, in which the protagonist, usually male, must defend his personal values of life in a violent confrontation with socially destructive forces.

    Owen Wister was born in Germantown, outside Philadelphia, the son of Owen Jones Wister, a physician, and Sarah (Butler) Wister, daughter of the actress Fanny Kemble. His parents were interested in arts, Wister's mother played piano, and the family frequently traveled abroad. Wister attended briefly schools in Switzerland and England, and studied at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire and Harvard University.

    After graduating in 1882, Wister studied two years music in Paris but then gave up a musical career, and settled in New York, where he worked as a bank clerk. Due to poor health, Wister spent some time in the West to restore his physical well-being. In 1885, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating three years later. Before devoting himself to writing, Wister had an office in the Philadelphia law firm of Francis Rawle, but he had no real desire to be a lawyer. Wister had spent summers in the West, and on the basis of these experiences he started to produce Western sketches. The first story, 'Hank's Woman,' appeared in Harper's, and launched his career as a writer. Beginning with his first encounter with Wyoming in 1854, he kept journals and notes, which were published in an edited form in WISTER OUT WEST (1958).

    In 1891, after a conversation in which the author and Roosevelt discussed the literary potential of his impressions of western life, Wister began writing his stories of America's last internal frontier. These preliminary works eventually led to the novel THE VIRGINIAN: A HORSEMAN OF THE PLAINS (1902), a story about the conflict between wilderness and civilization and the passing of the traditional way of life. Wister, who later characterized his best-selling book as an "expression of American faith", dedicated it originally to Theodore Roosevelt.

    The Virginian has been filmed several times, but the television series from 1962 to 1969 had little to do with the original dynamics of the story. Trampas (Doug McClure) appears in the series as an impulsive and vigorous cowboy, not a villain. The movie adaptation from 1929 included the first famous exchange of Talkies: Huston (the villain): "You long-legged-sonova – ". Cooper: "If you wanna call me that, smile." Huston: "With a gun in my belly, I always smile." Although the legendary American Western director, John Ford, knew Wister's work, he chose to film LIN MCLEAN (1898), the author's first novel about a young cow-puncher, retitled as A Woman's Fool (1918).

    In 1898 Wister married his cousin, Mary Channing; they had six children. Molly, as she was called by her family and friends, was socially active, member of the Philadelphia Board of Education, a founder of the Civic Club of Philadelphia, and defender of women's rights. She died in 1913, after giving birth to her sixth child. Her death was a deep blow to Wister and his novel, ROMNEY, which he had started in 1912, was left unfinished.

    Wister's literary success did not inspire him to write more Western novels, although in his short prose Wister developed the genre of cowboy fiction. Several of his stories were illustrated by Frederick Remington. PHILOSOPHY 4 (1903), a story about college life at Harvard, was followed by LADY BALTIMORE (1906), about aristocratic Southerners in Charleston. It has been said that the novel made a hit of the white layered cake described in it. Wister's later major works include ROOSEVELT: THE STORY OF A FRIENDSHIP, 1880-1919 (1930), based on the author's long acquaintance with Roosevelt, a Harvard classmate. Besides novels and histories, Wister wrote books for children. Wister's collected writings were published in 11 volumes in 1928. He died in Kingston, Rhode Island on July 21, 1938.

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