Snowbear Great Pyrenees

Mary and Francis Crane
A Tribute
A History

The Fath Medallion

An Original Article
Steve Berman

Best Of Breed Winners at the Great Pyrenees Club of America National Specialty are awarded the most significant prize achievable in our breed, the Fath Medallion.

This lovely solid bronze medallion represents the head study of Tri-International Champion Estat d'Argeles.

Estat was proclaimed the most perfect Great Pyrenees in France.

The history of the Fath Medallion is as interesting as the story of the twenty Fath Medallions Mary Crane donated to the G.P.C.A in 1979 for awards at twenty consecutive National Specialties.

In 1936 breed founder Mary Crane toured the Chenil d'Argeles of Mme. La Contesse de Bertier de Sauvigny, at Morsang-sur-Orge outside Chartnes, in France.

It was at Chenil d'Argeles Mary Crane saw and so greatly admired Estat and his lovely brother, Estagel. 

Mary was so taken by the beauty of Estat and Estagel she prevailed upon the Contesse to permit a portrait study be done of the brothers, as well as three full length bronze statues executed of Estat. 

The Contesse gave her consent for the portrait and statutes and Mary Crane commissioned Mons. Richard Fath to execute the portrait and the three bronze statues.

Mons. Fath had been designated France's outstanding animal sculptor.

The first statute was a present for the Contesse in recognition of her hospitality. The second statute was a gift to the American Kennel Club in whose collection it remains today. The third statute was for the personal Pyrenean collection of Mary and Francis Crane.

Mons. Fath was also commissioned to do a bas-relief head study profile of Estat. The bas-relief profile study of Tri-International Champion Estat d'Argeles was completed and struck in 1937, and became known as the Fath Medallion.
The Fath Medallion was offered by the Great Pyrenees Club of America as a prize for all 3 point show winners between 1937 and 1940, when the supply was exhausted.

Mary believed such an outstanding prize would stimulate interest in the breed.
Basquaerie dogs won many of the Fath Medallions.
Estat and Estagel were purchased by Mary Crane and came to her Basquaerie Kennels in 1937. Estat and Estagel won American Championships and sired outstanding Great Pyrenees prior to their passing in 1940.
Estat and Estagel will be forever known as "The Brothers".
Premier breed authorities Seaver and Edith Smith considered the Fath Medallion to be the
"creme de la creme" of Great Pyrenees awards.

Seaver considered it a great honor to award two Fath Medallions at National Specialty shows he judged. Seaver added that when the original cast for the medallion was shipped to the USA, it was entrusted to a prominent jewelry house for safekeeping. Unfortunately the casting was lost and never recovered from storage.

The Fath Medallion
Head Study in Bronze
Tri-International Champion Estat d’Argeles
Sculpted by Mons. Fath for Mary Crane, 1937
Medallion enlarged for viewing

This Fath Medallion was awarded to:
Champion Rolling Hills Keep The Faith, HOF, HOF

A Fath Medallion was also awarded to Preacher’s son
Am & Can Champion Snowbear Haven Leap of Faith

Preacher and Bishop hold the distinction of being the first father and son
to each be awarded Best of Breed at the Great Pyrenees Club of America National Specialty.

Mary wanted this beautiful head study of Tri-International and American Champion Estat d'Argeles to be treasured by those so fortunate as to win Best Of Breed at a National Specialty.

It was her hope that all Great Pyrenees enthusiasts who wished to see the correct Great Pyrenees head and expression would look upon The Fath Medallion.
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