US Coins

Market Analysis: Medal awarded to Pope Leo XIII

This 1892-1893 World’s Columbian Exposition award medal by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles E. Barber was awarded to Pope Leo XIII and sold for $2,640 on Aug. 19.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

The bronze 1892–1893 World’s Columbian Exposition award medals by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles E. Barber are not particularly rare. These were awarded to participants.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries writes in the catalog description for one medal offered in its August auction: “The hubs and dies were produced by the U.S. Mint, while the actual striking of the medals was farmed out to the Scovill Manufacturing Company, which painstakingly produced 23,597 medals, creating and replacing the insert die for each individual awardee between strikings. The medals were ready only in 1896, long after the Expo had ended and closed.”

The featured medal was unique in that it was awarded to Pope Leo XIII, who led the Catholic Church from 1878 to 1903. The cataloger states, “Though we cannot find any information as to why the Pope would have received this award or whether he attended the Expo in Chicago, we know that he sent representatives to see the ambitious Catholic Educational Exhibit mounted by the American wing of the Church at the Expo.”

The choice Mint State medal, measuring 76.3 millimeters, sold for $2,640.

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