Arthur Henry Rostron Medal
The survivors of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic had not even arrived in New York City before the United States Senate convened an inquiry into the disaster. The chairman of the hearing, Michigan Senator William Alden Smith (1859-1932), had been a champion of improved railroad safety in the United States, and he wanted to hear the survivors’ testimony while it was still fresh in their minds.
The hearings began at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City only a day after the survivors had reached land. Among the first to testify was Captain Arthur Henry Rostron of the R.M.S. Carpathia, which had picked up more than 700 survivors from the icy sea. His testimony before the committee was so complete and so emotionally gripping, it brought tears to the eyes of the Senator and many others in attendance.
Following his formal report on the investigation to the Senate, Senator Smith called for unanimous consent of a resolution to allocate one thousand dollars to award a gold medal to Captain Rostron. The resolution was passed by acclamation.
The medal was designed by American sculptor and medalist John Flanagan (1865-1952) who would later design both sides of the Washington U.S. quarter-dollar coin and more than four dozen items for Medallic Art Company over a forty-year period.
The dies for the Rostron medal were cut by Medallic Art Company, and the gold medal itself was struck by the United States Mint. The bronze sample shown here is from the archive of Medallic Art Company.