This Morphy Auctions lot contains an interesting California theatrical medal made from a $50 gold slug.
CARL SONTAG 1882 GOLD THEATRICAL MEDAL, GERMAN THEATER, SAN FRANCISCO.
Stunning hand made large gold and silver medal from The German (Baldwin) Theater in San Francisco, California. Central brass cast copy of an 1852 US $50 gold octagonal coin with presentation engraved on reverse, "Die Deutschen, San Francisco, Ihrem Carl Sontag, San Francisco, Cal, 12th Feb. 1882". The medal was presented to Sontag on his final evening of a 3-month appearance at the Baldwin Theater. The medal measures 3 - 1/4" tall by 2 - 1/2" wide, and has a gross weight of 70.4 grams. With the exception of a few missing flowers at the top, the medal is in excellent original condition. The medal appears to be made in 14k gold, but the karat is untested.
The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in The San Francisco Examiner, Monday, February 13th, 1882:
"Carl Sontag, who has appeared at the Baldwin Theater every Sunday evening for the past three months, made his farewell bow last night before an audience that fairly packed the house from orchestra to the topmost gallery. The play chosen for the great artist's final exit from the stage of his many triumphs was Freitag's brilliant comedy, "The Journalists", which has become a standard play on the German stage. It is as renowned for its literary, merit and extremely humorous and brilliant dialogue as it is for ingenious construction. Mr. Sontag found in the role of Conrad Bolz a peculiarly humorous, yet elegant characterization, a congenial task, and the frequent plaudits of the enthusiastic audience evidenced the fact that on this, his last representation, the great artist scored another hit......
"The pleasantest feature of the evening was at the end of the play, when Mr. Kadelburg came forward on the open stage and in a hearty manner said: "It is a good old and worthy custom to present to an honored guest at parting a token as an earnest of the regard and esteem in which he is held. It is therefore my pleasant duty, in the name of your many friends, to present you with this souvenir.
"It is a coin characteristic of California, and itself tells the history of the state; and it will recall to you the story of those Pioneers who struggled to make our state what it is and to whom we also owe thanks for having been able to raise the standard of German art in the extremest West. This honored coin is wreathed with the laurel crown you so richly earned, and may you on your native soil in the old Fatherland sometimes think of those friends whom you have left in far away California, who will remember as long as German art exists the name of Carl Sontag. He thereupon handed Mr. Sontag an elegant velvet case, in which was enclosed a slug of 1852, encircled with a golden crown of laurels and headed by the usual histrionic emblems of mask, scroll, etc. The entire piece was suspended from a plain and heavy gold pin by a silken ribbon of red, white and blue.
"On the obverse side of the coin was the inscription: "To true merit this crown. The Germans of San Francisco to Carl Sontag, February 12, 1882". Mr. Sontag, in an extremely agitated manner, replied as follows: "From the first hour I arrived here I met nothing but kindness ad good-will. I ought to say not only from the first hour but even earlier, for before my arrival across the bay I was met by Mr. Kadelburg who, in behalf of my colleagues, in the first place, proffered me every service and friendly help, and from the directrice, stage manager and stage personnel. I have met with nothing but the most flattering cordiality. Not alone among the artistic circle, but socially and in private life, I met with a reception so hearty and cordial that must ray during my whole career I never left a city with a greater feeling of regret, and with deep sorrow I leave this loved spot..."
Carl Sontag (Karl Sunday) was a son of actress Franziska Martloff; the singer Henriette Sontag and the actress Nina Sontag were his half-sisters from Franziska Sontag's marriage to Franz Sontag. According to the will of his parents, in no case should he become an actor. So he came to a polytechnic school which he soon had to leave. He then did an apprenticeship as a bookbinder, which he also completed. Already at this time he was also working as a writer in order to be able to afford to go to the theater. He took advantage of his mother's absence to introduce himself to the manager of the court theater in Liège, who accepted him as an extra actor on January 1, 1848; he chose Holm as his stage name. So Sontag was able to successfully compete at the royal in 1848 at the age of 20.
To read the complete lot description, see:
CARL SONTAG 1882 GOLD THEATRICAL MEDAL, GERMAN THEATER, SAN FRANCISCO
Wayne Homren, Editor
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