Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York



Lifesaving Benevolent Association of New York Award Medals


The years 1838 to 1849 saw 338 shipwrecks along the coast of New Jersey and Long Island;
in response to this a group of merchants, ship-owners and other private citizens formed
the Lifesaving Benevolent Association of New York. The purpose of the organization as
stated in the original charter is to “recognize and reward courage, skill and seamanship in the rescue of human life on the sea or any navigable waters … to encourage training in seamanship, lifeboat work, methods of rescue in the water, and the resuscitation of victims of submersion.”.
Working with the newly established U.S. Lifesaving Service they helped construct and
operate life-saving stations along the New York Coastline.

In 1915 the Federal government took control of the stations and they eventually became
the responsibility of the U.S. Coast Guard. The LSBA continued to reward individuals
with monetary compensation, pins and medals to recognize heroism at sea. In 2009
the Seamen's Church Institute took on the administrative duties of the LSBA.


Unawarded, bronze, 51.2mm

Award Medal Presented to John Johnston
Gold, 51mm
 (image courtesy of Heritage Auctions)


Award Medal Presented to Andre Lorsson
Silver, 51mm

At first glance it would appear that there is just two dies - one obverse and one reverse.
On closer examination it seems there are two reverse dies and two
obverse dies. The reverse dies differ in the design of the wreath with the
bronze and silver one design, the gold a different one. The obverse dies
differ in the composition of the waves, the design details on the ship, and other small details as well as having the lettering "sculp" to the right on the exergue line.
The gold and silver share the same obverse, with the bronze being struck with
a different die.

I have not been able to examine other specimens to see if the dies
were used in different combinations at various periods. Also, the bronze example
is the only one I have seen. Could it have been a specimen sample the
engraver created to see how the image would strike up or
to send to the organization for their approval.