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    c. 1782-1783 Libertas Americana Splasher
    With Original Preliminary Dupré Sketch
    In First Public Offering Together

    c. 1782-1783 Libertas Americana Reverse Splasher, White Metal, AU50 Uncertified. 41.8 mm. 191.3 grams. Famously designed by French engraver Augustin Dupré under the all-seeing eye of Benjamin Franklin, the Libertas Americana is one of America's iconic medallic triumphs and the inspiration for several early and future numismatic designs. The Libertas Americana was conceived by Franklin and magnificently created in France by Dupré. Americans were enthralled and inspired by the portrait of Liberty, but internationally the medal's allegorical reverse design engendered the most interest.

    This important reverse splasher for the famous Libertas Americana medal demonstrates the production process for the medals that are among the most famous of American numismatic objects. The existence of any 18th century splasher is surprising as they were not meant to be preserved. Splashers were struck in soft metal such as white metal (tin) to allow the designer a chance to inspect his work before production of finished medals before the dies were hardened. This white metal die trial is from the final Libertas reverse die and almost certainly made in Augustin Dupré's workshop (and likely by Dupré's hand) circa 1782-1783. Libertas Americana medals were first struck in silver and bronze beginning in March 1783.

    While the rim is separated from the face of this splasher from 2 o'clock to 5 o'clock, the general condition is far finer than should exist. The cataloger of its previous appearances suggested that this item likely passed through the hands of Benjamin Franklin, although there is no proof of that today. There is a record that Franklin sent a proof from the dies to Sir William Jones, and that information led the previous cataloger to suggest that this might be the very piece that Jones received. It is certainly an interesting speculation and suggests the importance of this item.

    The splasher is accompanied in this lot by an original sketch by Augustin Dupré, which came out of the Augustin and Narcisse Dupré Archive, first publicized and sold to the public with full title by Bonhams in April 2014. The vendor of the archive for the Bonhams sale was "the sole legatee of the Dupré family." The sketch is an early preliminary study for the lion that appears on the reverse of the Libertas Americana medal, consisting of four total renderings -- in pencil and ink -- of the lion, two on each side of the paper. One side of the paper has an oval "studio" stamp that reads "A. Dupré fecit" (which translates to "A. Dupré made it"), as well as a circular stamp bearing the initials "N.D." (Narcisse Dupré, Augustin's son). The large lion on the same side of the paper shows part of the mane drawn in charcoal. The paper measures approximately 7 inches square and is in excellent condition despite yellowing from age and a couple of tiny edge splits. Preliminary artwork sketches for medal designs of this period are every bit as rare as medal die trials themselves. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the Libertas Americana splasher is appearing in one lot with this preliminary sketch of the same by the hand of Augustin Dupré.
    Ex (splasher): Ted Craige (10/4/1982); John J. Ford, Jr. (Stack's, 5/2006), lot 288; Stack's Bowers (8/2011), lot 6164.
    Ex (sketch): The Archive of Augustin and Narcisse Dupré (Bonhams, 4/2014).
    From The Warshaw Family Collection, Part IV.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 809848, Base PCGS# 151815)


    View all of [The Warshaw Family Collection, Part IV ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2021
    17th-20th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 31
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