Heritage Auctions will offer for sale the Francis Peyton Rous Nobel Prize Medal in its Historical Manuscripts Auction #6149, November 4-5, 2015, In New York. Considered the founding father of cancer virology due to his discovery of the first tumor virus, now known as the Rous sarcoma virus, Peyton Rous (1879-1970) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1966 in recognition of his pioneering work that established a link between tumors and viruses.
The medal, designed by Swedish artist Erik Lindberg, measures 6.5 cm in diameter (approximately 2.5″) and weighs 204.0 grams. Struck in 23 carat gold, the obverse features a side portrait of Alfred Nobel with the dates of his birth and death in Roman numerals. The reverse, the design of which is unique to the medal for Physiology or Medicine, “represents the Genius of Medicine holding an open book in her lap, collecting the water pouring out from a rock in order to quench a sick girl’s thirst.” (www.nobelprize.org, accessed July 27, 2015) An inscription appears above the figures, reading: “INVENTAS VITAM JUVAT EXCOLUISSE PER ARTES.”
Taken from the sixth song, verse 663, of Virgil’s Aeneid, it is translated as, “inventions enhance life which is beautified through art.” The lower section of the medal bears a second inscription, “REG. UNIVERSITAS MED. CHIR. CAROL,” the Karolinska Institutet. The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet, one of the most esteemed medical universities in Europe, is responsible for choosing the laureates for the award for Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Rous’ name is engraved in a plate below the figures along with the year of the prize, 1966, presented in Roman numerals: “Peyton Rous / MCMLXVI.”
The medal is housed in an elegant, yet simple, maroon leather case with “P. Rous” giltstamped on the lid, surrounded by a decorative gilt border featuring four gilt fleur-de-lis in the corners. When open, the inside lips of both the top and bottom feature a giltstamped border. The medal rests securely in a fitted box of yellow velvet with satin lined top.
Accompanying the Nobel medal is the second piece of the prize, the Nobel diploma.