US Coins

Market Analysis: Collectors love design diversity in Assay Commission medals

Two versions of William Barber’s 1869 United States Assay Commission medal were struck in aluminum. The “Without Stars” medal graded Specimen 62 brought $432 and the “With Stars” medal in MS-65 Prooflike realized $1,920 March 18.

All images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

The United States Assay Commission no longer exists, but is remembered by a series of medals designed by many of the U.S. Mint’s top talents in the 19th and 20th centuries. The commission’s purpose was to supervise annual testing of gold, silver, and other metals in the Mint’s coins to make sure that they were struck in accordance with specifications. Members, among them many collectors, received a specially designed medal for their participation. The final medal in 1977 was sold to the public.

A number of these medals were offered in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries March 18 auction of the Richard Jewell Collection.

Among them was William Barber’s 1869 medal, which was inspired by Christian Gobrecht’s Seated Liberty design in both With Stars and Without Stars versions.

A With Stars aluminum medal, graded Mint State 65 Prooflike by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., sold for $1,920. One without stars, graded Specimen 62 by Professional Coin Grading Service, brought $432. While silver examples of the With Stars type were offered to commission members at the February 1869 meeting, aluminum ones were struck as delicacies for collectors.

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