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    1883 Railway Appliances Gold Medal, MS62
    The Pintsch Lighting Company

    1883 National Exposition of Railway Appliances, Chicago, Gold Medal, Harkness Nat-220, MS62 NGC. 66.4 grams, 45 mm. The design is cataloged as Nat-220, although NGC marked this one as Nat-221 (a number that doesn't exist in the reference), presumably due to the gold composition. The obverse features a high relief central motif of a contemporary steam engine, coal car, and passenger car, signed by Barber and Morgan, with a small depiction of the "Rocket," and the year 1829. Despite the signed design, no evidence of this medal has been located in the National Archives, and it is not listed in R.W. Julian's reference on 19th century Mint medals. Light hairlines appear on both sides of this straw-gold medal, with trivial edge marks. An excellent medal produced with sharp design definition.

    This medal, one of only a small number of surviving gold award medals for the exposition, was presented to The Pintsch Lighting Co. for their "Superior and most Comprehensive Compressed Gas System for Railways."

    Alan V. Weinberg Comments. I've seen two others in gold, both of those heavily battered and tested on the edges, the last one in a March 2016 Baltimore auction.

    The National Exposition of Railway Appliances. The exposition was held in Chicago from May 24 to June 23, 1883. Rand, McNally & Co. published a guide to the exposition that is now available online. Among the rules of the exposition: "Articles may be entered either in 'competition' for medals, or for 'exhibition only,' at the option of the exhibitor." The guide identifies the "Pintsch Gas Lightning [sic] Co. system for passenger cars, New York."A "Premium List" of all of the award medals for various categories appeared in the Rand, McNally guide, accounting for the presentation of 79 gold medals, 233 silver medals, and 135 bronze medals. The rarity of the gold medals suggests that only a few of the 79 were likely awarded, and the rest were probably melted.

    Pintsch Lighting Company. A discussion of Pintsch's Patent Lighting System appeared in volume 55 (1882) of the American Railroad Journal:

    "The Pintsch Patent Lighting System provides for the lighting of railroad cars and locomotives, steamships and ferryboats, buoys for seashore, river and harbor lights, and for railroad depots, factories, hotels, and other buildings. It is now in general use in Europe, and the Pintsch Lighting Company has been organized under the general statutory provisions of the State of New Jersey."

    The Pintsch system of compressed gas was invented by Julius Pintsch of Berlin, Germany, and saw widespread use in Europe before reaching America where it was well received. Eventually, electric lighting slowly replaced the compressed gas lighting. The electric companies began to argue against the gas-supplied lighting, claiming it was unsafe in the case of an accident.

    We have located auction appearances of just four gold medals including the present offering. The others were awarded to the Baldwin Locomotive Works, the Midvale Steel Company, and the Machine Tool Works. This medal, and the silver medal in the present sale, provide an excellent opportunity for the medal collector or the railroad enthusiast.
    From The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part II.

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

    View all of [The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part II ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    14th-18th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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