Few 19th century medals are as enigmatic to modern collectors as original silver Indian peace medals. This large-sized one, measuring 75.5 millimeters in diameter, was graded Fine and brought $23,500 at Stack's Bowers Galleries' March 26 Baltimore Expo auction.
The family history of the medal indicates that it was “black with oxidation” when found, allegedly by a Wyoming shepherd in 1962.
The lot is accompanied by Jan. 3, 1964, Idaho Free Press newspaper clipping with the story of how this medal was found in a field.
The catalog entry notes that while it is impossible to know to whom the medal was presented, “Many Shoshone and Arapahoe are today resident near the area where this medal was found, but many more tribes, including the Cheyenne and Crow, have called all or part of Wyoming home over the last two centuries.” It adds, “Madison medals were distributed far and wide among the tribes of the Missouri and upper Mississippi.”
The medal shows ample signs of use, from the worn surfaces to the fact that the suspension hole is slightly enlarged from years of hanging and display.