World Coins

19th century nursing medal soars in June auction

A bronze medal for nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale sold for more than three times its high estimate at auction recently.

Images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

An undated (circa 1854 to 1855) bronze medal for nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale soared during Stephen Album’s June 11 to 14 auction.

The medal realized $595, including the 19 percent buyer’s fee, against a pre-sale estimate of $150 to $180, perhaps reflecting the additional veneration the profession of nursing has received during the global pandemic.

The medal measures 41 millimeters in diameter (the size of an American Eagle silver dollar) and weighs 39.72 grams, almost 30 percent heavier than the silver coin.

Nightingale served with distinction during the Crimean War of circa 1853 to 1856. She improved the terrible conditions of the British war hospitals during that time. For this, she is known as the founder of modern nursing.

J. Pinches designed the medal, which shows on its obverse a half-length figure of the famed nurse seated left in a chair reading a book within a beaded oval frame, with her name as legend and floral half-wreaths to left and right.

The reverse displays oval arms at the center with V H inscribed on a cross. BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL is around the border, all within a floral wreath with CRIMEA on the ribbon below and with AS A MARK OF ESTEEM AND GRATITUDE FOR THE DEVOTION TO THE QUEEN’S BRAVE SOLDIERS around.

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