The obverse bears a female head (alternatively representing Greater New York or Columbia) crowned with laurel in high relief, facing right.
The reverse depicts a full figure of nude male facing left, standing erect, pouring water from classic vase resting on his shoulder. On Left and right, TO COMMEMORATE - THE COMPLETION / OF THE CATSKILL - AQUEDUCT / AN ACHIEVEMENT - OF CIVIC SPIRIT / SCIENTIFIC GENIUS - AND FAITHFUL LABOR / 1905 NEW - YORK 1917
This is the 35th official issue of the American Numismatic Society.
This medal was authorized by the Medal subcommittee of the Mayor's Catskill Aqueduct Celebration Committee and issued by the American Numismatic Society (ANS).
Daniel Chester French won this commission through his acquaintance with Robert de Forest, with whom he served on the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and who also was the president of the Mayor's Catskill Aqueduct Celebration Committee. The committee was convened to organize the celebrations in honor of the completion of the massive Catskill Aqueduct project. Construction had started twelve years earlier in 1905. By 1917 a 163-mile long system of tunnels and pipes had been completed to transport water from the Catskill Mountains to New York City.
In 1933, Clyde Curlee Trees, the President of Medallic Art Company chose French's beautiful female head as the symbol of his company and obviously gained permission to use the design in many different ways. The head became not only the company logo but also appeared on bronze replica medals that were struck in an unknown quantity. As late as 1979 the Medallic Art Company issued gold-plated struck bronzes in the small diameter.
The original medals measured 76mm in diameter and were cast by the Medallic Art Company in a quantity of 57 bronze and 23 silver pieces. 13 of the silver pieces were supposedly disposed of but other sources report that 12 silver pieces survived.
Later, an unknown number of the smaller 38mm diameter brones were struck by the Medallic Art Company.
References: ANS 35, Baxter 245, MACo 1917-007, Marqusee 177