US Coins

Gold 1901 Pan-American Exposition medal in auction

One of possibly only two known 1901 Pan-American Exposition medals struck in gold and still in existence will be offered to collectors by Rago Auctions in its Feb. 24 sale.

Chris Wise, director of Coins/Currency and Silver for the Lambertville, N.J., firm, said the medal originated from an estate in New York.

Numismatic Guaranty Corp. has authenticated and encapsulated the medal as Uncirculated Details, Bent, Scratched.

Connect with Coin World:  

Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

The 64-millimeter medal is attributed as NY L-TM103 in Fred Lavin’s 2010 reference, Panorama of the Pan-Am.

The medal is inscribed incuse on the edge with the manufacturer’s name and gold fineness: GORHAM CO. 24K.

Wise says the gold medal weighs 194 grams, or 6.38 troy ounces.

The exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., is tragically noted as the site of the Sept. 6, 1901, assassination of President William McKinley. McKinley died Sept. 14, eight days after being mortally wounded.

The obverse of the gold medal depicts a striding nude representing Liberty, alongside a garlanded buffalo. The reverse depicts two Native Americans, from South and North America, facing one another as they share a peace pipe.

The medal was designed and engraved by sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil, future designer of the Standing Liberty quarter dollar.

The obverse is inscribed PAN AMERICAN EXPOSITION above Liberty. Inscribed on a plaque below is ELDRIDGE R. JOHNSON to whom the medal was presented, with HERMON MACNEIL SC in the exergue.

The reverse is inscribed in the field above the two Indians in two lines BVFFALO / V•S•A• MCMI.

The medal is accompanied by its original presentation box from the Gorham Manufacturing Co. On its cover appears, in gold lettering, GOLD MEDAL AWARDED / TO / ELDRIDGE R. JOHNSON FOR / VICTOR TALKING MACHINES / PAN-AMERICAN EXPOSITION / 1901.

Johnson founded the Victor Talking Machine Co., which he turned into the leading producer in America of phonograph players and phonograph records.

Wise says his research found no evidence of any example of the gold medal in the collections of the American Numismatic Association, American Numismatic Society, Buffalo University or museums in the Buffalo area. Wise said he has also not come across evidence of a gold example previously crossing the auction block.

New York professional numismatist Anthony Terranova said he examined a gold example of the medal a number of years ago, but it was not engraved with the name of a recipient. At the time he examined the gold medal, Terranova said it was owned by professional numismatist Jay Cline, a Standing Liberty quarter dollar specialist and author of the reference Standing Liberty Quarters.

Wise said as many as 10 of the medals may have been struck in gold. 

Community Comments