Some of the more unique items in Special Collections are the Spicer-Simson medallions, held as part of the Theodore Spicer-Simson collection. Spicer-Simson was a well-known sculptor who worked in the first half of the 20th century. He was also a part time resident of Coconut Grove, lured to the sunny south by his friend, the botanist David Fairchild.
Spicer-Simson crafted many portrait medallions, and in fact considered himself a “collector of characters”, a term he’d use as the title for his autobiography, published posthumously by the University of Miami Press in 1962. Many people sat for Spicer-Simson, including world leaders such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, famous authors such as James Joyce, and powerful industrialists like Andrew Carnegie. These medallions can all be found in the Theodore Spicer-Simson collection.
Not all of Spicer-Simson’s “characters” however, are household names. Last year, a reference request was sent in seeking a digital image of the medallion of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, completed by Spicer-Simson in 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was the second leader of the Bahá’í Faith, succeeding his father and the religion’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh. In 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Baha came to the United States, and subsequently found himself immortalized in bronze by Spicer-Simson.
One can see many more bronze medallions of well-known and not so well-known world figures, along with correspondence and photographs, by exploring the Theodore Spicer-Simson collection at the University of Miami Libraries.