History of Science & Technology, Including Fossils, Minerals, & Meteorites

History of Science & Technology, Including Fossils, Minerals, & Meteorites

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 60. Richard Feynman's Oersted, Niels Bohr, and National Medal of Science Award Medals, 1972-1979.

Property From The Family Of Richard P. Feynman

Richard Feynman's Oersted, Niels Bohr, and National Medal of Science Award Medals, 1972-1979

Lot Closed

April 28, 07:03 PM GMT


8,000 - 12,000 USD

Lot Details


Property From The Family Of Richard P. Feynman

Feynman, Richard P.


Group of three medals and one tie pin:

1. Hans Christian Oersted Teacher Scientist 1820. [1972]. 5 cm sterling silver medal, obverse with a teacher demonstrating a science experiments, reverse reading "American Association of Physics Teachers/ For/ Notable/ Contributions/ To The Teaching of Physics/ Awarded To/ Richard P. Feynman". Housed in brown leatherette case.

2. Niels Bohr International Gold Medal.  6 cm gold medal, obverse with bust of Bohr reading "Niels Bohr 1885 1955", reverse with a depiction of an atom, and reading "Contraria Sunt Complementa." Edge of medal engraved with "Richard P. Feynman." Housed in a red leather case.

3. National Medal of Science. 8.8 cm bronze medal by Medallic Art Co, obverse with depiction of a man surrounded by earth, sea, and sky, endeavouring to understand nature, writing an equation in the sand. Reverse reading "Awarded By/ The President/ Of The/ United States/ Of America/ To/ Richard Phillips Feynman/ 1979." Housed in leather case. WITH: National Medal of Science 2 cm 14 k gold tie pin by Medallic Art Co., replicating the design of the National Medal of Science. 

 “I don’t like honors. I appreciate it for the work that I did and I know that there’s a lot of physicists who use my work. I don’t need anything else… I’ve already got the prize: the prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out…” (Sykes, No Ordinary Genius, p. 82).

Of all the numerous awards conferred upon Feynman throughout his career, including his Nobel in Physics, he was most proud of the Oersted Medal, awarded by the American Association of Physics Teachers for notable contributions to the teaching of physics. The Feynman Lectures on Physics (see lot 62 for Feynman's own copy) transcribed from his undergraduate lectures at Caltech from 1961-64 are legendary. “Feynman was a remarkably effective educator. The Feynman Lectures on Physics…were described by a reviewer on Scientific American as ‘tough, but nourishing and full of flavor After 25 years it is the guide for teachers, and the best of beginning students’ …about 80 percent [of Feynman’s 1961-63 class] recall Feynman’s lectures as highlights of their college years. ‘It was like going to church.’ The lectures were a transformational experience ,’ ‘the experience of a lifetime, probably the most important thing I got from CalTech.’” (Kip Thorne, introduction to The Feynman Lectures on Physics, sixth edition.)

The Niels Bohr International Gold Medal is conferred for "outstanding work by an engineer or physicist for the peaceful utilization of atomic energy." There have only been 12 recipients since its inception in 1955 (with Bohr himself being the first). The National Medal of Science was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and given to individuals “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences.”