US Coins

Wells Fargo medal follow-up

A Coin World reader offers additional information regarding a 1902 medal issued by Wells Fargo & Co. (shown above).

Images courtesy of Sandy Ricker.

Coin World reader Paul Heinen presents this additional information regarding a scarce 1902 Wells Fargo & Co. medal, still within its original presentation case, as featured in the July 25 “Readers Ask” column:

I was reading through my issue of Coin World the other day and came across your article on the Wells Fargo medal. I would like to offer some information about this medal.

This information was also provided to the authors of the updated version of So-Called Dollars by Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen, but was not received in time to include in the update. However, if you reference this new version of the book, you will see that I was noted as a contributor to this volume.

First, I would like to state that I have actively collected these medals for the last 10 years and have been able to obtain six of these. Further, as a Wells Fargo employee, I have been able to consult with our in-house museum staff and I am able to offer the following information, which has eluded many for years:

As you correctly state in the article, these medals were presented to employees who, at the time, had served the company for at least one year. Further, I was able to find that at that time (1902) Wells Fargo had about 5,000 employees who had put in one year of service. This, arguably, would put the mintage of the medal at about 5,000 pieces.

The designer of this medal was John Valentine, who was president of Wells Fargo & Co. at that time but never actually saw it come to fruition, as he died before they could be produced. The next president of the company was able to make it happen.

Recently I had one of these medals tested at Numismatic Guaranty Corp. to determine its metallic content. While we know it is made of silver, the specific metallic content of the medal is 95 percent silver, 5 percent copper.

The maker of this medal still remains a mystery. I have inquired internally and on the Professional Coin Grading Service Collectors Board online and no one seems to know who it was. Perhaps the readers of Coin World could offer additional information?

Finally, as to rarity of the medal, I think you are probably very close. While I have six of them, I have seen only a few more out there, and there are a lot of fake pieces — something that others should consider carefully when seeking to purchase an example.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from staff member Erik Martin. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to or call (800) 673-8311, Ext. 274.

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