US Coins

Wells Fargo silver medal

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

Images courtesy of Sandy Ricker.

What can you tell me about this Wells Fargo medal?

Buddy Link

Address withheld

The piece in question appears to be a medal commissioned by the Wells Fargo & Co. for its semicentennial in 1902.

According to So-Called Dollars by Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen, the silver medal was presented “on or about” March 18, 1902. It was given to employees who had been with the company for one year or more.

Neither the designer nor striker of the 40-millimeter diameter medal is known. So-Called Dollars classifies the medal as Hibler-Kappen 296.

Mr. Link’s medal appears to be in Uncirculated condition, with moderate spotting and light, even toning. It has no edge inscription. It is encased within its original presentation case, which Hibler and Kappen describe as a “dark maroon leatherette jeweler’s box,” lined with blue velvet and satin.

So-Called Dollars gives the medal a rarity rating of R-5 (76 to 200 pieces known) separate from its original presentation case. A Wells Fargo medal with its original presentation case is much scarcer, given a rarity rating of R-7 (11 to 20 pieces known).

The So-Called Dollars price supplement published in February 2008 gives the Wells Fargo medal a value of $200 to $400 in circulated condition and $400 to $1,000 in Uncirculated condition.

Three medals, none in their original presentation cases, sold at a Heritage auction Sept. 27, 2007. One, graded Mint State 65 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., sold for $1,265. A second, graded MS-64 by NGC, sold for $862.50. A third, an About Uncirculated Details piece — improperly cleaned and possessing rim damage — sold for $345.

Another example, described as being in AU condition, bearing a name inscribed on its edge and having its case, sold for $1,035 at a May 21, 2008, Stack’s auction. Another piece, described as MS-64 or better and with its case, sold for $2,185 in a Sept. 30, 2010, Stack’s auction.

As the medal is scarcer in its original presentation case, Mr. Link will need to think carefully about whether or not to have it encapsulated, but it is recommended that he have it authenticated as genuine by an expert.

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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