Coin World reader Paul Heinen presents this additional
information regarding a scarce 1902 Wells Fargo & Co. medal, still
within its original presentation case, as featured in the July 25
“Readers Ask” column:
I was reading through my issue of Coin World the other
day and came across your article on the Wells Fargo medal. I would
like to offer some information about this medal.
This information was also provided to the authors of the updated
version of So-Called Dollars by Harold E. Hibler and Charles
V. Kappen, but was not received in time to include in the update.
However, if you reference this new version of the book, you will see
that I was noted as a contributor to this volume.
First, I would like to state that I have actively collected these
medals for the last 10 years and have been able to obtain six of
these. Further, as a Wells Fargo employee, I have been able to consult
with our in-house museum staff and I am able to offer the following
information, which has eluded many for years:
As you correctly state in the article, these medals were presented
to employees who, at the time, had served the company for at least one
year. Further, I was able to find that at that time (1902) Wells Fargo
had about 5,000 employees who had put in one year of service. This,
arguably, would put the mintage of the medal at about 5,000 pieces.
The designer of this medal was John Valentine, who was president
of Wells Fargo & Co. at that time but never actually saw it come
to fruition, as he died before they could be produced. The next
president of the company was able to make it happen.
Recently I had one of these medals tested at Numismatic Guaranty
Corp. to determine its metallic content. While we know it is made of
silver, the specific metallic content of the medal is 95 percent
silver, 5 percent copper.
The maker of this medal still remains a mystery. I have inquired
internally and on the Professional Coin Grading Service Collectors
Board online and no one seems to know who it was. Perhaps the readers
of Coin World could offer additional information?
Finally, as to rarity of the medal, I think you are probably very
close. While I have six of them, I have seen only a few more out
there, and there are a lot of fake pieces — something that others
should consider carefully when seeking to purchase an example.
Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins
or other items for examination without prior permission from staff
member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety
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