US Coins

William Barber's 1876 U.S. Centennial medal

This large Centennial medal designed by William Barber has long been popular with collectors and this gilt copper Mint State example brought $329 at Stack’s Bowers’ March 26 Baltimore Expo auction.

In 1876 the United States celebrated its Centennial and among the numerous commemorative items produced were tokens and medals. This medal, 58 millimeters in diameter and made of gilt copper, was designed by William Barber. It brought $329 at Stack's Bowers Galleries' March 26, 2014, auction held during the Whitman Expo in Baltimore.

William Barber was the fifth chief engraver of the U.S. Mint and served from 1869 until his death in 1879. His work is seen on many U.S. pattern coins of the era, medals such as this one, and the Trade dollar struck from 1873 to 1885. William was succeeded as chief engraver by his son Charles, who served in that capacity until his death in 1917.

On the obverse of this medal, Liberty places wreaths on the heads of figures representing Industry and Art. On the reverse, Liberty kneels with an unsheathed sword. The copper gilt medals originally sold for $3 and copper medals, which originally cost $1, can be found today for less than $200.


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