Bjørnson was one of Norway's most prominent writers and participants
in public debate in the 19th century. After writing a series of superb
stories and plays he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1903. Bjørnson
acquired a reputation for enjoying the limelight and for a considerable
degree of personal vanity.
In 1895 the coin engraver Ivar Throndsen was working on a medal motif of the writers Bjørnson and Henrik Ibsen, reflecting their importance to Norwegian cultural life. The medal was never issued but the model was preserved. The design of this medal was the topic of a personal letter written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson to the coin engraver Throndsen, in reply to an initial letter from Throndsen concerning the medal. At the time of this correspondence Bjørnson was living in Schwaz in Tyrol.
The model for the Bjørnson medal