On Dec. 4, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla., will open “Peace
Medals: Symbols of Influence and Prestige,” a new temporary exhibition
that explores the historical importance of Indian peace medals in
The exhibition will close April 1. A book is
being published in conjunction with the opening of the exhibit.
The exhibit draws from the collection of peace
medals assembled by museum founder Thomas Gilcrease.
The Gilcrease holdings also provide historic
paintings and photographs of important American Indian chiefs wearing
identifiable medals. The portraits of Cunne Shote and Syacust Ukah,
two Cherokee chiefs who traveled to London to meet with King George
III in 1762, are treasures of the museum and striking examples of 18th
century portraiture, according to officials of the museum.
A few rare items from other institutions, such
as the American Numismatic Society, the National Portrait Gallery, the
Missouri Historical Society, the Oklahoma History Museum and Woolaroc
Museum, will also be displayed.
One of the Woolaroc Museum medals, an oval,
hand-engraved 1792 George Washington medal, is featured. In examining
the Woolaroc specimen for his article in the accompanying book,
numismatist George Fuld discovered that the Woolaroc specimen bears
the hallmark of a previously unknown silversmith.
Companion to the exhibition, the hardcover
book, Peace Medals: Negotiating Power in Early America,
provides a more in-depth look at some of the topics. Numismatists,
anthropologists and historians have authored the eight illustrated
articles in the book.
Peace Medals looks into the stories
behind the medals and provides context for understanding their
importance. Articles in the book address topics such as precursors to
peace medals; the medals of Louis XV; medals given by Louis Philippe
of France to Indian dancers who accompanied American painter George
Catlin in 1845; Tomás Prieto’s Al Mérito Spanish medals; and the
history of Keokuck, an important Sauk and Fox chief, to whom at least
four medals were presented during his long and distinguished career.
The cover of the book features a portrait
titled Cunne Shote, Cherokee Chief, painted by Francis
Parsons in 1762. The Cherokees were recognized as a sovereign nation
by the British before the American Revolution.
Medals featured on the book’s cover include:
• George Washington engraved oval medal, 1792
• Louis XV Honos et Virtu silver medal, circa
1720s to 1750s
• George III Proclamation medal
• Carlos III Al Mérito silver medal
Priced at $19.95, Peace Medals:
Negotiating Power in Early America
can be purchased by
contacting the Gilcrease Museum Store by telephone at 918-596-2725 or
by fax at 918-596-2727. It also is available through the University of
Oklahoma Press (www.oupress.com