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Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio   |   The August 2018 ANA Auction   |   22 August 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Session 2, Lot 36

Estimate: 20'000 USD   |   Starting price: 1 USD Price realized: 12'600 USD
Important Washington Before Boston Medal
Prized Original Impression
"1776" (ca. 1789) Washington Before Boston Medal. Paris Mint Original. Bronzed Copper. Julian MI-1, Musante GW-09-P1, Baker-47B. Rarity-6. Specimen-62 (PCGS).
A lovely specimen of this famous medal, the first authorized by the young United States Congress. The surfaces are glossy rich chocolate and olive brown with pleasant gentle reflectivity on the obverse that nicely accentuates the prominent bust of Washington. A small area of darker patina just right of Washington's mouth is a good identifier of the specimen, yet harmless and a testament to the originality of the piece. The patina is mostly quite even with just a trace of variation that is often seen on bronzed medals. A gentle patina break is noted on the hindquarters of Washington's horse, the highest point of the reverse relief.

The Washington Before Boston medal is a classic and immensely historic. Though all are desirable, and there are numerous iterations which speak to a long tradition of desirability of the issue in general, original Paris Mint strikes in particular are by the far the most significant and in great demand. While Adams and Bentley recorded 52 specimens, they did not break this down further among those with the original reverse, like this one, those with the error reverse, and those struck after that error was corrected. The Baker-Fuld work has often placed the population from this die pair at 8 to 10 pieces, which is provably low, but we would be surprised if the total surpassed a couple dozen. Neil Musante did not propose a specific estimate, though he reported that "seven in silver and twenty in bronze" were reported known in Mason's Coin & Stamp Collector Magazine, in December 1868. Most of the original impressions are heavily handled, struck in the 18th century for non-collectors who were close to the beginnings of the American Experiment and thus not handled as gingerly as those pieces from the mid-19th century which typically went directly from dies to cabinets. A specimen like this, struck from the same dies as the gold specimen granted Washington by Congress and the silver specimen presented him by Thomas Jefferson in 1790, wears its history well and would be an evocative addition to any cabinet.

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