Jack James medal
This medal features a portrait of the Royal Mint Deputy Master Jack James. He arrived at the Mint in 1957 and had the challenging task of overseeing the transition to a decimal currency, at least from the Mint’s perspective, and of moving the organisation to what was to become its new home in South Wales. Those who knew him describe a man with a commanding presence, aloof and consciously removed from the day-to-day business of the factory but shrewd in his knowledge of how government worked. In the film about the Mint made in 1967, Jack James was interviewed by his old school friend John Betjeman and there is in the exchanges between the two the hint, also, of a lighter side to the man.
When Paul Vinzce, a respected Hungarian designer of coins and medals, set about preparing a low-relief portrait sculpture of James in 1959 he was confronted with the task of trying to capture the complexities of a man who could be extremely shy but also formidably authoritarian. Whatever the artist may have thought of the finished work, James evidently liked it, otherwise he would not have displayed it prominently in his office at Tower Hill for many years. . It is a handsomely proportioned portrait, capturing the bearing and character of James. The toned electrotype illustrated here came to the Museum direct from the artist in 1991 and may well be one of only two made, the other being the copy retained by James himself.