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The Payne Medal

Payne Medal

The highest award given by the American Iris Society strictly to Japanese Irises.

History from Clarence Mahan: ….....................................................related links: Awards; 2015 Payne Medal Candidates.

This medal is restricted to Japanese irises (JI). It is named in honor of W. Arlie Payne (1881-1971).


W. Arlie Payne was born on a farm near Terre Haute, Indiana. He graduated from Central Normal Collage in Danville, Indiana, and studied pattern making. Payne worked as a lumberjack, photographer, real estate agent, and pattern maker until he established a landscaping business on sixteen acres of land south of Terre Haute. He was at first especially interested in peonies, but in the late 1920's, he "discovered" Japanese irises. He started hybridizing Japanese in irises in 1932. Over the next three and a half decades, he raised many thousands of seedlings.

During the 1930's and .1940's, there was a sharp decline in the popularity of Japanese irises in the United States, especially during the period of WW II. One of the few nurseries on the West Coast that continued to offer them for sale renamed them "Pearl Harbor irises." Arlie Payne continued his, extensive breeding program striving to produce "a race suitable for outdoor American plants." He sought a beautiful flower of symmetrical form and a plant that demonstrated exceptional vigor. One of the most exceptional aspects of his breeding program was that it was developed in the early years using only six cultivars of the Edo type. Payne took line breeding to a new level of intensity.

Arlie Payne did not start introducing his irises until the early 1950's. When he did, it was apparent that he had developed a strain of wonderful new Japanese irises. He ultimately registered 170 cultivars, most of which were of exceptional quality. When his new cultivars were sent to Japan, the Japanese were astonished to see their diversity and quality. The gigantic maroon, 3-fall cultivar 'The Great Mogul' (1958) was especially admired by Japanese specialists. Payne cultivars took the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in the Internationale Garten Ausstellug in 1963. 'The Great Mogul' won the Silver Medal at the Vienna Intenationale Gartenschaus in 1964, and 'Confetti Shower' won the Bronze Medal at the same event.

The American Iris Society awarded Arlie Payne its coveted Hybridizers Medal in 1964. When he died at the age of 90, in 1971, he was universally revered as the world's premier breeder of Japanese irises.

From the Society for Japanese Irises (SJI):

The Payne Medal (named for W. Arlie Payne) is the highest award given by the American Iris Society that a Japanese iris can receive in its class. Payne Medal winners are then eligible to win the Dykes Medal, which is the highest award an iris can receive from The American Iris Society. Prior to 1992 the highest award a Japanese Iris could receive was the Payne Award. This award has now been elevated to a medal status.

Award History

From the minutes of the November 1965 AIS Board of Directors’ meeting: “It was voted to activate the Payne Award for Japanese Irises to be set up on the same basis as the Caparne and other special awards.” Here is a story from the October 1968 Bulletin about the Payne Award and the original cup. The first Japanese Iris awarded the Payne Award was 'Strut and Flourish', a Payne iris, in 1966. The last Japanese Iris to receive the Payne Award was 'Japanese Pinwheel' by Currier McEwen in 1992. The Board of Directors initiated the eligibility for the C. G. White, Mohr, Williamson-White, Nies, Mitchell, and Payne Medals during the October 30th to November 1st 1992 Board Meeting. The first recipient of the Payne Medal was 'Oriental Eyes' by Adolph Vogt. 'Oriental Eyes' also received the Payne Award in 1988. The only other Japanese Iris to have received both the Payne Award and the Payne Medal was 'Caprician Butterfly' by Walter Marx, receiving the award in 1990 and the medal in 1994.

List of Payne Medal winners - Japanese (JI) Irises:
  ‘Koto Harp Strings’
2023 - Chad Harris
'Flamingo Waltz'
2022 - Chad Harris
‘Columbia Deep Water’
2021 - Chad Harris
‘Dalle Whitewater’
2021 - Chad Harris
'Cascade Rain'
2019 (Tie) - Chad Harris
'Indigo Angel'
2019 (Tie) - Bob Bauer & John Coble
'Kimono Silk'
2018 - Bob Bauer & John Coble
'Oh So Pink'
2017 - Don Delmez
'John's Fancy'
2016 - Jill Copeland
'Sugar Dome'
2015 - Bob Bauer & John Coble
'Lady In Pink'
2014 - Terry Aitken
'Bewitching Twilight'
2013 - Chad Harris
2012 - Chad Harris
'Lake Effect'
2011 - Bob Bauer & John Coble
'Sue Jo'
2010 - Don Delmez
Sue Jo
'Little Bow Pink'
2009 - Don Delmez
Little Bow Pink
'Raspberry Candy'
2008 - John Coble & Bob Bauer
Raspberry Candy
'Dirigo Pink Milestone'
2007 - John White
Dirigo Pink Milestone
'Sing The Blues'
2006 - Lorena Reid
Sing The Blues
'Blue Spritz'
2005 - Don Delmez
Blue Spritz
2004 - Sterling Innerst
'Lion King'
2003 (Tie) - John Coble & Bob Bauer
Lion King
'Raspberry Glow'
2003 (Tie) - Terry Aitken
'Electric Glow'
2002 - Terry Aitken
Electric Glow
'Picotee Princess'
2001 - Lorena Reid
Picottee Princess
'Bellender Blues'
2000 - Bob Bauer & John Coble
Bellender Blue
'Geisha Obi'
1999 - L. Rich
Geisha Obi
'Butterflies In Flight'
1998 - Terry Aitken
Butterflies In Flight
'Electric Rays'
1997 (Tie) - Terry Aitken
Electric Rays
1997 (Tie) - Sterling Innerst
'Edge Of Frost'
1996 (Tie) - Dienstbach
1996 (Tie) - Hazzard
'Cascade Crest'
1995 - Terry Aitken
Cascade Crest
'Caprician Butterfly'
1994 - Marx Rogers
Caprician Butterfly
'Oriental Eyes'
1993 - Vogt
Oriental Eyes

List of Payne Award winners - Japanese (JI) Irises:
1992 - 'Japanese Pinwheel' - McEwen 1991 - 'Lilac Peaks' - Vogt 1990 - 'Caprician Butterfly' - Marx
1989 - 'Blueberry Rimmed' - McEwen 1988 - 'Oriental Eyes' - Vogt 1987 - 'Freckled Geisha' - Reid
1986 - 'Ipsus' - Innerst 1985 - 'Blue Marlin' - Copeland 1984 - No Award
1983 - 'Raspberry Rimmed' - McEwen 1982 - 'Returning Tide' - McEwen 1981 - 'Fuji' - Abel
1980 - 'Purple Parasol' - McEwen 1979 - 'Prairie Velvet' - Hazzard 1978 - 'Tuptim' - Rich
1977 - No Award 1976 - 'Stranger In Paradise' - Hager 1975 - 'Prairie Love Song' - Hazzard
1974 - No Award 1973 - 'Hue And Cry' - Maddocks 1972 - No Award
1971 - 'Numazu' - Hazzard 1970 - 'Worley Pink' - Worley 1969 - 'Star At Midnight' - Rich
1968 - 'Dancing Waves' - Payne 1967 - 'Leave Me Sighing' - Maddocks 1966 - 'Strut And Flourish' - Payne


-- Main.RPries - 2009-12-24
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
1968_10_AIS Payne Award Story.pdfpdf 1968_10_AIS Payne Award Story.pdf manage 505 K 23 Mar 2023 - 15:38 Main.dougchyz Payne Award Story
Payne-JI_SM_edit.jpgjpg Payne-JI_SM_edit.jpg manage 36 K 26 Aug 2010 - 15:55 UnknownUser AIS slides
PayneW.A.-May1968-Harder_edit-May1968-Harder_edit PayneW.A.-May1968-Harder_edit manage 50 K 26 Aug 2010 - 15:59 UnknownUser AIS slide
Topic revision: r41 - 20 Aug 2023, WayneMesser
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