This article comes from our April 17, 2017, weekly issue of Coin World. Want to get all of our content, including special magazine exclusives? Subscribe today!
A gilded copper medal considered by some political items collectors to be the rarest among Martin Van Buren 1836 political campaign medals highlights Heritage Auctions’ 507-lot sale of Americana and political collectibles May 13 in Dallas.
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Also offered are a post-1864 political campaign medal depicting Abraham Lincoln, and a “Racetrack” celluloid jugate bank from the 1916 re-election campaign of Woodrow Wilson as president.
Van Buren political
Attributed as MVB-1836-2 in J. Doyle DeWitt’s 1959 reference, A Century of Campaign Buttons 1789-1889, the Van Buren 35-millimeter gilded copper medal is identified by the auction cataloger as possibly unique in gilded copper. It is most often encountered in white metal or copper.
Some question whether the piece was issued for the 1836 presidential campaign or, rather, in the fall of 1837. The nation was in the throes of a financial crisis known as the Hard Times era, and Van Buren was under heavy public criticism, leading some researchers to speculate this medal may have been issued to protest Van Buren’s election, not to advocate his election.
The highlighted 38-millimeter copper Lincoln medal is attributed by DeWitt as AL-1860-12. Offered as Uncirculated, Heritage indicates that has never before handled an example of the medal. The medal is described as having been issued after the 1864 election.
On the medal’s obverse, along the bottom right border appears KEY F. (an abbreviated form of “Key Fecit” in Latin), translating in English to “Key Made It.” Key refers to William H. Key, the engraver who executed the designs.
The jugate bank, oblong in shape and measuring 3 inches by 2 inches and 0.5 inch thick, portrays on the front Wilson and his vice presidential running mate, Thomas R. Marshall, with heraldic eagle between, and flanked by American flags. Imprinted above is OUR COUNTRY — OUR FLAG — OUR PRESIDENT with HELP RE-ELECT WOODROW WILSON below.