Market Analysis: Medals highlight Stack's Bowers Spring 2014 Baltimore sale

Market Analysis column from April 21, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Coin World
Published : 04/04/14
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A gold Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded to Argentinean Carlos Saavedra Lamas was the top lot during Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ auctions held during the Whitman Expo in Baltimore. The auction firm states that the medal’s price of $1,116,250 on March 27, 2014, makes it the first $1 million medal to sell at a numismatic auction.

But, as with many Stack’s Bowers auctions, many tokens and medals combined interesting stories with visual appeal. Many of these sold at rather reasonable prices, especially when compared with regular-issue U.S. coins of comparable quality and rarity.

1809 James Madison Indian peace medal: $23,500

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. 

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. 

William Barber 1876 U.S. Centennial medal: $329

In 1876 the United States celebrated its Centennial and among the numerous commemorative items produced were tokens and medals. This metal, 58 millimeters in diameter and made of gilt copper, was designed by William Barber.

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