US Coins

Album auction offers rare 1904 gold so-called dollar

One of two examples reported of a gold so-called dollar medal related to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition highlights Stephen Album Rare Coins’ May 17 to 19 auction.

Medal images courtesy of Stephen Album Rare Coins.

Thomas Jefferson may have bought “it” and Napoleon Bonaparte may have sold “it” but a rare medal celebrating “it” is now for sale, and is expected to realize $15,000. 

The “it,” of course, is the 1804 Louisiana Purchase, which was celebrated a century later with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, whose size and numismatic commemorations are seemingly unrivaled in American exposition history.

One of two gold medals of a specific type noting the buyer and seller of the most significant land acquisition in American history highlights Stephen Album Rare Coins’ May 17 to 19 auction in Santa Rosa, California. 

The gold medal is cataloged as Hibler & Kappen 311b in So-Called Dollars by Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen. The type is generally found only in aluminum (HK-311) or brass (HK-310).

The obverse of the medal shows conjoined busts of both leaders, with NAPOLEON SOLD IT / APRIL 30TH / JEFFERSON BOUGHT IT above, and the 1803 date of the sale below. 

The reverse bears the inscription LOUISIANA PURCHASE above, STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER below. ST. LOUIS / 1903-4 / EXPOSITION is inscribed on a ribbon entwining a horseshoe on which is written GOOD LUCK with a four-leaf clover above, and seven stars above and below. PAT’D and 1903 are at the sides. 

The medal is one of apparently only two known struck in gold, according to the firm, and has a provenance to Kurt Krueger, the collector who authored Meet Me in St. Louis, the Exonumia of the 1904 World’s Fair.

Interestingly, the gold version is not listed in either Krueger’s work or the HK catalog. 

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. has encapsulated and authenticated the gold medal, giving it the grade of Very Fine Details, and the auction house notes that there is a rim filing on the medal.

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The gold medal is among several dozens lots of so-called dollars — commemorative medals approximately the size of a silver dollar — related to the 1904 exposition that are being offered in the Album auction.

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held in St. Louis From April 30 to Dec. 1, inspired numerous so-called dollars with various designs and issuers. Sold as souvenirs of the event, the medals could be purchased at some of the many buildings constructed at the site. Official U.S. commemorative coins were also issued for the exposition.

For full details of the sale, visit the firm’s website

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