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    Description

    (1781) Libertas Americana Medal, MS62
    Struck in Silver From the Original Dies
    Betts-615

    (1781) MEDAL Libertas Americana Medal, Silver, MS62 NGC. Betts-615. The concept of the Libertas Americana medal was the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin , whose ideas were influenced by his time in Paris as ambassador and later as Minister to France. In total, Franklin spent nine years in France, where his primary role was to enlist French aid for the United States. Many believe America would not have won the War of Independence without France's military and financial aid.

    The Libertas Americana Medal was conceived in 1782. Based on a sketch made by Antoine Gibelin and engraved by Augustin Dupré, the medals were struck at the Paris Mint in 1783 for presentation to French royalty (two pieces in gold for the King and Queen) and silver medals for the ministers. Bronze medals were sent to America for presentation to members of the Congress, with the President of Congress to receive a silver medal.

    The obverse depicts the Goddess of Liberty with a Phrygian cap and pole -- the symbol of freedom. The obverse date, July 4, 1776, commemorates the Declaration of Independence. On the reverse, France is symbolized as Minerva shielding America (the infant Hercules) from England, represented as a raging lion with its tail between its legs. Hercules strangles two serpents, perhaps suggesting the extinguishing of two "armies" in one war, one with the British surrender at Saratoga on October 17, 1777, and the other represented by the British defeat and surrender at York on October 19, 1781.

    The authoritative Adams and Bentley reference estimates about 60 silver medals were dispersed to important individuals (some in America, the rest on the other side of the Atlantic) and approximately 200 bronze impressions were distributed. Most were purchased with Franklin's own money. Of these, only 22 surviving silver medals were traced by Adams and Bentley. The bronze medals survived at a lesser rate, with just 37 confirmed survivors at time of the book's publication in 2007. These figures have been adjusted somewhat in the intervening years, with the 2015 Guide Book estimating 24+ medals in silver, and 100-125 pieces known in bronze.

    The present example is extraordinarily attractive and well-preserved. A full medallic strike provides sharp details on both sides, with the motifs boldly rendered. Lovely iridescence covers the reflective, essentially prooflike silver surfaces. The old-silver patina projects unquestioned originality, with only a few microscopic, hair-thin lines in evidence and no significant marks. Die rust is minimal for the issue, and there is no overt pitting as seen on strikes from a more advanced state of the dies. Mint luster remains strong beneath the medium toning, and shines through to fully reveal the mirrored fields when held at an advantageous viewing angle.

    The opportunity to own a silver Libertas Americana seldom occurs. We have offered a mere handful of these beautiful, historic medals struck in silver over the years. This is a wonderful example, with few pieces known any finer.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 151000)


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 26
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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