An example of now six known silver 1789 East Florida Proclamation
medals, this one purchased for under $100 but worth thousands of
dollars, is coming to auction Dec. 2 for the first time.
Eden Ltd. in London will offer the medal as Lot 786 in the auction.
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According to Tom Eden, special consultant to Morton & Eden, the
East Florida Proclamation medal being offered Dec. 2 was purchased
some time ago in the United States by a private collector in Spain for
under $100 as an unattributed proclamation medal.
“It was only after its purchase that its true identity was
discovered,” Eden said. “As we state in the catalog it has not
previously been recorded and is new to the market.”
The medal carries an estimate of £10,000 to £15,000 ($12,500 to
$18,700 in U.S. funds). It is described as “About Very Fine.”
The 32.7-millimeter medal, weighing 12.04 grams, is now identified
as Betts 10 in C. Wyllys Betts’ American Colonial History
Illustrated by Contemporary Medals).
Commemorating the proclamation of Charles IV of Spain as king by the
governor of East Florida, Vicente Manuel de Zespedes, the medal
features an armored and draped bust of Charles IV right, and
inscription CAROLUS IV. D. G. HISPAN. REX.
The reverse depicts a six-petalled jasmine flower at center, small
castle above and lion below, LA FLORA: ORIENTAL PER. ZESPEDS
PROCLAM:TUS 1789. The edge is “obliquely grained,” according to the
auction lot description.
The medal is sometimes referred to as a 4-real piece because of its
similarity in weight and size to that circulating coin of the period.
Where, how many and how these medals were made is not definitively
known. When Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold the John W. Adams example in
2015, five examples of the medal were recorded in silver, making the
Morton & Eden offering the sixth known specimen. Three examples of
the medals are also confirmed in bronze.
John Paul Jones
The very next lot in the auction is a recently discovered example of
a John Paul Jones silver medal commemorating the capture of the
British frigate HMS Serapis by the USS Bonhomme
Richard off Flamborough Head on Sept. 23, 1779.
Naval hero Capt. John Paul Jones was in command of the Bonhomme
Richard during its engagement with the Serapis. The
Continental Navy vessel was leading a combined Franco-American fleet
of five ships against a large Baltice merchant fleet being escorted by
the Serapis and the smaller armed ship Countess of Scarborough hired by the Royal Navy.
The Jones medal is described as “Extremely Fine,” but with hairlines
caused by an early cleaning. Evidence of die flaws suggests an
original or very early striking of the medal at the Paris Mint,
according to the auction catalog.
Attributed as Betts 568, the 56.25-millimeter medal was executed at
the Paris Mint for the Comitia Americana series of medals by French
engraver Augustin Dupré.
The medal’s obverse features a bust right of John Paul Jones, after
Jean-Antoine Houdon, in naval uniform, signed
DUPRÉ. F. (Made by Dupré) on the truncation, JOANNI PAVLO JONES
CLASSIS PRAEFECTO (meaning To John Paul Jones Commander of the Fleet),
COMITIA AMERICANA (meaning American Congress).
The medal’s reverse features the naval confrontation in progress
showing the crew of USS Bonhomme Richard boarding
HMS Serapis behind, HOSTIVM NAVIBVS CAPTIS AVT FVGATIS (meaning
The Ships of the Enemy Captured or Put to Flight), and AD ORAM
SCOTIAE XXIII SEPT M DCCLXXVIIII (By the Shore of Scotland, September