When the FBI recovered Newsday’s missing Pulitzer Prize medals last week, there remained the question of whether they’re the paper’s real prizes. With the Pulitzer committee’s authorization, Newsday had produced two sets of replica medals; the real ones were (supposedly) secured in the safe at Melville HQ, while the duplicates were on display. So how do you prove it’s a real Pulitzer? Weigh them. The three medals are from 1954, 1970, and 1974, and until 1977, Pulitzer medals were made from solid fourteen-karat gold. But in 1978, the Pulitzer committee downgraded the medals to ten-karat gold, then in 1980 they stopped using pure gold at all. Since 1987, they’ve been made of 24-karat-gold-plated silver. Medallic Art, the Nevada-based company that produced the prizes until 1991, will verify the Newsday medals, but its president argues that all the medals made since 1987 are, in a way, mere reproductions. “The Pulitzers are a sore spot for us,” says Medallic Art’s Robert Hoff. “We think the recipients deserve a solid-gold medal, not some gold-plated thing.” Responds Sig Gissler, the administrator of the prizes, “We can have the medal made by whomever we choose.”
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