US Coins

Recently discovered medal sells for $109,250

The 1780 Virginia Happy While United medal was unknown in silver until the cast example illustrated here was recently discovered.

Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.

A recently discovered unique 1780 Virginia Happy While United medal cast in silver was sold at auction Sept. 14 for $109,250.

The plain edge medal, graded choice Very Fine, was offered by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in conjunction with the Whitman Philadelphia Coin Expo.

According to the Stack’s Bowers auction lot description, the medal was personally ordered and overseen in 1780 by Virginia’s governor, Thomas Jefferson.

The medal is believed to have been produced in either Richmond or Williamsburg by Robert Scot, a future U.S. Mint engraver.

According to the auction lot description, “the Virginia Happy While United medals were the diplomatic ribbon around the relationship between Jefferson’s Commonwealth and the major [Indian] tribes of the South during the American Revolution.”

When Stack’s Bowers offered a bronze example of the medal in 2009, no silver examples were known. Prior to 2009, the last time a bronze example had been sold was in a U.S. auction in 1946, according to Stack’s Bowers.

The piece sold in 2009, a mold pattern from which the silver examples were produced, sold for $92,000 and is in the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

The Stack’s Bowers description for the cast silver medal indicates it weighs 991.7 grains. A metallurgical analysis of the medal by S&N Labs in Santa Ana, Calif., indicates the cast silver medal is composed of 92 to 93 percent silver, 3.9 to 4.1 percent copper and 2.6 to 4 percent iron.

John W. Adams wrote in the 1991/1992 American Journal of Numismatics that likely a dozen of the silver medals were initially cast in 1780 and more after that date. Adams writes the medals were still being distributed as peace medals as late as 1787.

At the time of his article, Adams was unaware of the survivorship of any of the silver Virginia medals, but stressed, “Almost certainly, one or more silver medals have survived and will some day come to light.” ¦

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