Monday Morning Brief: A hero’s gold medal

The unique congressional gold medal for a hero of the War of 1812 is coming to auction in Berlin on Feb 2. Senior Editor Jeff Starck shares the story of the medal, its recipient, and where it has been for the last 200 years.

Full video transcript:

Good morning. Welcome to the Monday Morning Brief. I’m Jeff Starck of Coin World.

Now is a great time to be a well-heeled medal collector. That's because a unique congressional gold medal presented to an American hero of the War of 1812 highlights an upcoming auction in Germany.

On February 2 in Berlin, Fritz Rudolph Künker will offer the Congressional Gold Medal presented to General Alexander Macomb for his heroics during the Battle of Plattsburgh, which you may also know as the Battle of Lake Champlain.

Macomb, together with 1,500 soldiers and assorted militia members, successfully resisted British General George Prevost and more than 10,000 troops near Plattsburgh, New York, in September of 1814.

The victory there ended the final invasion of the northern United States during the War of 1812, and with the Battle of Baltimore the next day, helped usher in the peace that came three months later when the Treaty of Ghent was finally signed.

This gold medal was personally presented to Macomb by President James Madison.

How's that for holding history in your hands?

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The medal came out of a Swiss branch of the Macomb family and was kept for a long time in a castle in Geneva, Switzerland, according to Ulrich Künker, head of the auction firm.

The obverse of the medal shows a bust of the hero Macomb, while the reverse depicts a battle scene.

Macomb was one of 27 men to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during the War of 1812, and this medal was authorized November 3, 1814, a few scant months after the battle.

Medici medalStarting a medal collection: How to approach a daunting area of numismatics: Our multi-part series from Coin World editor-at-large Steve Roach will outline four ways that one can organize a collection of medals.

The medal offered by Künker is a high-class historical testimony recalling one of the pivotal moments in American history, according to the auction house. And the medal has a pre-sale estimate of $159,702.

Here at Coin World, we care about medals as much as coins, and paper money. And tokens. And … Well, you get the idea!

Whatever the news, whatever the category, we’ll keep bringing it to you.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, find us at Facebook, online at and of course in print in your mailbox.

For Coin World, I’m Jeff Starck.

Happy collecting!

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