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    Description

    Powerful 1762 Morro Castle Medal in Silver
    Betts-443, a Medallic Masterpiece

    Betts-443. 1762 Morro Castle. Silver, gold-washed. Extremely Fine. A faint golden haze is all that remains of a thin coat of golding or wash, more prominent on the reverse than obverse. The fields retain their reflective character despite a now-distant light polishing that has left some hairlines and brightness behind. The gold wash is almost entirely intact on the edges. A minor rim bruise is noted at the right side of the exergual line on the reverse, no other serious points of contact or other flaws. A thin die crack is noted across Velasco's cravat and collar, marking this as a later die state than the bronze one which follows it.
    One of the most noteworthy pieces of medallic art in the Betts series, and quite possibly the only medal struck to mark a battle that was lost. The medal was engraved by Tomas Francisco Prieto as an official and sanctioned memorial to Luis de Velasco and Vincenzo Gonzalez, the commanders of the fort who died in valiant fashion while defending it. The reverse depicts in gory detail the explosion of the fort's magazine at the end of the British siege, with an inscription that Betts translates as "They ended their lives in glory in the Morro Castle." Velasco was given several chances to surrender, under almost any terms, but he denied the British forces the chance to capture the fortress by any means besides completing the siege. Velasco and Gonzalez were both killed in hand-to-hand combat, when a rush of British and provincial troops overtook the fort.
    Some three thousand Americans fought in the battle for Havana, including Bunker Hill hero Israel Putnam. When Great Britain gave Cuba back to Spain in 1763, they received Florida in return; when Spain joined the American Revolution on behalf of the provincials, this was not far from their mind. This seemingly foreign medal would have been well recognized by the Revolutionary generation, to whom service in Havana attained nearly legendary status. This medal attains similar heights in the Betts series today. 48.9 mm, 1031.3 grains.
    Ex: John J. Ford, Jr. (11/1965).
    From The John W. Adams Collection of French and Indian War Medals.
    Seller is donating a portion of their proceeds, and Heritage is donating the same portion of the Buyer's Premium, from the sale of this lot to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. See page 3 for details.


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

    View all of [The John W. Adams Collection of French and Indian War Medals ]

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    4th-8th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 443

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