Rare 1925 Norse-American Gold Medal, PR66
1925 Medal Norse Gold PR66 PCGS. CAC. In 1924, one of a long
series of abuses of the American commemorative silver coin program
was the issuance of the 1924-dated Huguenot-Walloon commemorative
half dollar issue. This issue was a moneymaking opportunity that
was tied back to the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in
America, even though the issue purportedly commemorated the
tercentenary of a group of Dutch Walloons (Calvinists) who sailed
to America aboard the Nieuw Nederland to found a colony in
New York in 1624.
Tied With One Other for Finest at PCGS
Making matters worse, the design as issued depicted Admiral Gaspard de Coligny and William the Silent, two men who had both been dead for decades at the time of the establishment of the American Dutch colony in 1624.
Opponents of the issue rightly pointed out that a federal coin issued to profit a religious organization violated the First Amendment, mandating separation of church and state.
The Norse medals of 1925 have an even more curious history.
One usually thinks of immigration of the various peoples of the world as occurring in waves of humanity over a period of decades or even centuries, depending on the identity of the groups in question. A quick Google search will lead one rapidly to references to Viking explorations of the northeastern coast of North America in the 10th century, the Leif Ericson voyages and settlements in Greenland, and so forth. But apparently, even though these settlements lasted for several hundred years, they did not lead to any permanent immigrations to North America by Norsemen. The site www.norway.org has this to say:
"Norwegian immigration to America in the post-Columbian era began in 1825, when several dozen Norwegians left Stavanger bound for America on the sloop Restauration (often called the 'Norwegian Mayflower') under the leadership of Cleng Peerson. The emigrants were primarily Quakers, though personal and economic motivations may have played a role. The ship landed in New York City, where it was at first impounded for exceeding its passenger limit. After intervention from President John Quincy Adams, the passengers moved on to settle in Kendall, New York with the help of Andreas Stangeland, witnessing the opening of the Erie Canal en route. Most of these immigrants moved on from Kendall, settling in Illinois and Wisconsin. Cleng Peerson became a traveling emissary for Norwegian immigrants and died in a Norse Settlement near Cranfills Gap, Texas, in 1865."
Even if this was a valid occasion for commemoration -- a point many numismatists would debate -- apparently the dustup over the Dutch coins from the year before was taken into account. Minnesota Congressman O.J. Kvale, of Minneapolis, wanted an actual commemorative coin but later revised his proposal to a medal. Even though the Norse medals are usually collected right alongside classic commemorative gold and silver coins, a search of some of the standard references on U.S. coins yields not a jot of information on them, an approach that strikes us as overly puristic. The Norse medals were struck in silver-plated bronze, silver (thick and thin planchets) and gold -- the latter to the extent of only 100 medals, 53 of which were later melted as unsold, leaving a net distribution of just 47 specimens. Most prospective buyers could not afford the purchase price for the gold pieces, about 20 dollars at the time.
The medals themselves are beautifully designed but seem confused as to what they celebrate, showing a Viking in all his barbarous vigor on the obverse, ship in background, along with the date 1825-1925, while the reverse shows the same ship with the notation AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A.D. 1000. We are not making this stuff up.
The present PR66 PCGS example with CAC sticker is one of only two in this grade with none finer at PCGS. NGC shows two each in PR66 and PR67, with a single PR68 the finest certified (11/12). The strike is razor-sharp over surfaces that appear mark-free, and the deep reddish-orange color adds further to the enormous eye appeal. This gorgeous gold medal would form a capstone on the "ultimate" commemorative gold collection. (NGC ID# 28NU, PCGS# 9452)
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