US Coins

Market Analysis: Privately struck fur trade peace medal

A coveted piece from the Donald G. Partrick Collection in Heritage’s April 22 auction in Dallas was the illustrated circa 1832 John Jacob Astor American Fur Company silver medal graded About Uncirculated 55 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. One of just seven traced and only the second in private hands, it brought $144,000 at the April 22 Partrick Platinum Night session. This was a privately struck “peace medal” designed to be used as a gift to strengthen ties with North American Indigenous populations.

The design of the medals was described by Heritage as “a blatant imitation of the standard federal Indian peace medal design,” since the U.S. government was not willing to allow a private commercial entity to issue medals on its behalf.

The obverse shows the bust of the firm’s president Astor, and the reverse has shaking hands with overlapping peace pipes and tomahawks.

Contemporary documents establish that the medals were given out by the summer of 1837.

Heritage lists the offered medal as likely the example sold to the Astor Family circa 1893 and later sold at Stack’s John J. Ford Jr. Collection auction, Part XVI in October 2006 where it realized $201,250.

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