A unique congressional gold medal presented to an American hero of
the War of 1812 highlights a German auction in February.
Fritz Rudolph Künker on Feb. 2 in Berlin will offer the
congressional gold medal presented to Brig. Gen. Alexander Macomb for
his heroics during the Sept. 11, 1814, Battle of Plattsburgh, also
known as the Battle of Lake Champlain.
The victory there ended the final invasion of the northern states of
the United States during the War of 1812, and with the Battle of
Baltimore the next day, helped usher in the peace that came three
months later when the Treaty of Ghent was finally signed.
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Macomb, together with 1,500 soldiers and some militia members,
successfully resisted English Gen. George Prevost and his 10,531 men
near Plattsburgh, N.Y.
This medal was presented to Macomb by President James Madison,
according to Künker. It was authorized by a Nov. 3, 1814,
congressional resolution, and Macomb was one of 27 men to receive the
congressional gold medal for their service during the War of 1812.
The medal came out of a Swiss branch of the Macomb Family and was
kept for a long time in a castle in Geneva, according to Ulrich
Künker, head of the auction firm.
Susan Watts Macomb (1849 to 1928) was a direct heir of the hero of
Plattsburgh, by marriage. The medal passed into the possession of the
Grand d’Hauteville noble family.
The medal is cataloged as Julian-MI-16 by R. W. Julian in Medals
of the United States Mint, the First Century, 1792–1892. Its
obverse shows a bust of Macomb facing right, with his name
surrounding, the shortened name of engraver Moritz Furst below.
The reverse depicts a battle scene on the Saranac River and Lake
Champlain, along with inscriptions related to the honor, the battle
name and date, and the engraver’s name.
It measures 65 millimeters in diameter.
The medal offered by Künker is “a high-class historical testimony
recalling one of the pivotal moments in American history,” the firm said.
This medal is graded Extremely Fine to Fleur-de-coin (Proof), and
has an estimate of €150,000 ($159,702 U.S.).