The History

Drawing on a rich historical record, this section examines the inaugural medal’s storied tradition.

A Summary of the Inaugural Medal Tradition

“The official inaugural medal, one of the Nation’s enduring traditions, first was struck in its present form for the second inauguration of President William McKinley in 1901.  Previously, the only permanent artistic souvenirs by which to recall the historic quadrennial occasion were identification badges distributed to selected persons attending the political functions.  In time, these badges evolved into medals.  Originally designed as moments for inaugural committee members, the medals went on public sale for the first time in 1929 for Herbert Hoover’s inauguration.  Treasured collectors’ items now, some of the early medals have increased in value severalfold over their original cost.  Traditionally, bronze and silver replicas are issued in limited quantities and one copy is struck in pure gold for presentation to the new President.”  (excerpted from the 1969 Richard M. Nixon Inaugural Medal Insert)

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