The Society has been the foremost supporter of the study of medals in America since its formation in 1858. Its activities embrace many aspects of numismatics but one of its outstanding promotions has been the presentation of the J Sanford Saltus Award for distinguished achievement in the field of the art of the medal, created in 1913. This was initially awarded to American based artists but, in 1983, was extended to include artists from other countries. Since then it has honoured some of the most outstanding practitioners of the art of the medal in many countries, thus increasing the attention and prestige of this art form. Alongside its extensive educational and profile-raising activities, ranging from regular seminars, lectures and podcasts alongside publications and exhibitions, the society makes regular purchases of BAMS medals to enhance its collections and recently purchased the significant archives of the Medallic Art Company to preserve them for posterity.
The 2020 Marsh Award for the Encouragement of Medallic Art is to be awarded to Lisa McGovern of City of Glasgow College, an enthusiastic supporter of the BAMS Student Medal Project.