US Coins

1799 Washington Funeral Urn medal $8,000

A coin with a hole is usually called a problem coin, but all holes are not created equal. Some numismatic issues have inherent holes (think of a coin struck on a washer-shaped planchet) while others are always found holed because a hole was required to suspend the item, consistent with its original function. Other holes are considered damage and, with few exceptions, these holes always lower the value of a coin.

Several “holey” coins that sold at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Nov. 10, 2017, Session 7 auction held during the Whitman Baltimore Expo showcase the different effects holes have on the desirability and price of an item.

Here is one of them.

The Lot:

“1799” (1800) Washington Funeral Urn Medal, White Metal, AU-55

The Price:


The Story:

Among the more popular early American issues are the Washington Funeral Urn medals, most of which are neatly pierced for suspension. The medals are dated 1799 but were produced in 1800 and sold as tributes to the memory of George Washington, who died Dec. 14, 1799. It is listed as Musante GW-70E in Neil Musante’s 2016 reference book Medallic Washington, which organizes the various Washington medals by chronology rather than theme.

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The description concludes that the lustrous medal, graded About Uncirculated 55 by NGC and measuring 30 millimeters in diameter, is “a most pleasing example of this famous medal, an item produced in memory of Washington just after his passing, when the national sentiments surrounding him were undoubtedly the highest.” Collectors don’t mind a hole on this issue, since the hole is consistent with the medal’s original purpose.

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