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    George II Indian Peace Medal, Good to VG
    Betts-396, Silver
    One of Five or Six Known, Sole Collectible Example

    Betts-396. George II Indian Peace Medal. Silver. Good to VG. 46.3 mm, 27.5 gm. Unsigned. A left-facing portrait of George II without drapery appears on the obverse. The legend translates as, "George II, by the grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith." The Royal Arms within the Garter and with supporters, helmet, crown, and crest appears on the reverse. The translation of the reverse text is, "God and my right."

    The British did not have as long a tradition of awarding medals to the Indians as did the French. Danvers Osborne, the ill-fated Governor of New York, brought over the first 30 medals in 1753. These 30 way well have been part of a requisition by the Colonial Office in that same year for a total of 50 medals intended for the "Six United Nations together with the Shawanese, Delawares, Twightees, Piets Windottes [sic]". With hostilities on the frontier heating up and with no way to concert policies as between the affected colonies, the British appointed William Johnson (later Sir William Johnson) as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Department in 1755. He had had considerable experience dealing with the Six Nations of the Iroquois from his location in upstate New York and the Iroquois were to become an important ally in the so-called "French & Indian Wars." Johnson assumed the responsibility for awarding medals not only to the Six Nations but to all other tribes, from Virginia north to Massachusetts.

    The official Indian peace medal featured a portrait of George II on the obverse and his coat of arms on the reverse. Hundreds of this design were ordered during the period 1753- 1760 and then issued by Johnson in a strategic fashion. The George II peace medal is largely unpublished, perhaps because of its rarity, but, when a study is written, there is an abundance of contemporary citations to document its use.

    Made in England, the medals are cast silver with a diameter ranging between 45.5 and 46.4 millimeters and with a weight ranging between 26.99 and 28.40 grams. Although several others have been cited in earlier literature, only five are known today and, of these, four are impounded in institutions. The only appearance at auction was at an otherwise nondescript Elder sale in 1927. The great collections of Indian peace medals beginning with W.H. Hunter and W. C. C. Wilson on down to John J. Ford, Jr. did not contain an example. Thus, the importance of the present offering cannot be overestimated.

    The known examples are:

    1) Present example. Picked off eBay by a sharp-eyed discoverer who sold it to Warren Baker for $15k who resold it to the present owner at a substantial advance. Holed and plugged.
    2) British Museum. Ex: Edward Hawkins in 1860. In mint state, with no bar on edge with which to incorporate a loop.
    3) Library Archives of Canada. Probably Ex: Gerald Hart in 1880 and quite likely the piece recorded by Renaud and Morin as part of the Library of Parliament Collection. Holed and plugged with a bar on the edge.
    4) American Numismatic Society. Found by P. B. Murphy of Quebec in 1900 on an old Indian trail in Hamilton Cove on the Labrador Coast, who described the discovery in a 1907 letter to Robert McLachlan. Purchased by J. Sanford Saltus in 1917 and presented to the ANS. Fine, holed.
    5) Glenbow Museum. Ex: Victor Morin; Douglas Ferguson.
    6) William Beauchamp. Present whereabouts unknown. Listed in Beauchamp's 1903 Metallic Ornaments of New York Indians where he writes, "The finest of the English silver medals which the writer has seen had belonged to Mr. John Jones of Baldwinsville, NY. It came to him as an heirloom, and was said to have been from the body of an Indian chief. The history is not clear. Though it has been roughly handled by children, it is in good preservation, owing to the deep border and high relief."

    Areas of rose and gold toning are present on this scarce example. As mentioned above, this medal has been holed and plugged, slightly to the left of top center. In addition, a crack extends from the top of the King's head, upward through the rim, to the top of the shield. Given this piece is one of only five known and the sole example in private hands, any condition issues are irrelevant. This may be the only opportunity to acquire this rare medal for decades to come.
    Purchased from Warren Baker (3/2013).
    From The John W. Adams Collection.

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The John W. Adams Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2014
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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