1871-Dated Canada Indian Treaty No. 1, Jamieson-38, Silver...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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1871-Dated Indian Treaty No. 1 Medal, AU Details
1871-Dated Canada Indian Treaty No. 1, Jamieson-38,
Silver--Reverse Scratched--NGC Details. AU. McLachlan-30,
Leroux-1191, Breton-29. 76 mm. Described in its last appearance
more than 30 years ago as "Of the highest rarity," the Treaty No. 1
medal is, indeed, among the very rarest of all Canadian numbered
treaty medals. John Ford, who assembled one of the most memorable
collections of these numbered treaty medals, failed to obtain an
example - perhaps the greatest testament to the challenge it
Jamieson-38, Major Canadian Rarity
The negotiation of Treaty 1 between the Crown and the various First Nations at Stone Fort (Lower Fort Garry) began on July 21, 1871, and concluded with the signing of the treaty on August 3, 1871 which ceded 16,700 square miles of what is now south-central Manitoba to the Crown. As had been for case for more than a century, it was decided that medals should be struck to commemorate the event. Although Morin and Jamieson argued that a small-size medal was struck for presentation to the signatories (Morin figure 23, Jamieson-36), Warren Baker states otherwise in the October 2004 issue of the Medal Collectors of America Advisory. He writes: "The Indian Affairs Report for 1872 details the goods given to the Treaty 1 and 2 Indians, but there is no mention of the Wyon or any other medal." However, a May 10, 1930 memorandum from Duncan Campbell Scott of the Department of Indian Affairs to the Montreal numismatist L.A. Renaud confirms that the diminutive Wyon medals described by Morin and Jamieson were actually produced, but never distributed:
"[They] were considered too small and inappropriate in design for treaty medals and so were replaced by large silver plated medals with Queen Victoria's head and the inscription 'Dominion of Canada Chiefs medal 1872' on the obverse and on the reverse Britannia and four allegorical figures representing the industries and the inscription 'Indians of the Northwest Territories' and 'Juventas et Patrius Vigor Canada Insaurata 1867.'"
This is a reference to the small number of electrotypes produced by Montreal silversmith Robert Hendery, which, in turn were shunned by their Indigenous recipients as the silver plate began to wear. Thus, in 1875 the government finally settled on what would become the standard Canadian numbered treaty medal by J.S. and A.B. Wyon, with the portrait of Queen Victoria on the obverse and on the reverse a uniformed officer shaking hands with an Indigenous chief, tipis and the setting sun over the prairies in the background. It is believed these medals served as replacements for the shunned Hendery electrotypes.
To say the Treaty No. 1 medal is a rarity is an understatement. There were eight signatories to the treaty, and probably no more than that were issued retroactively. The only other example we are aware of is held by the Manitoba Museum. This example, off the market for more than three decades, presents an extraordinary opportunity. It retains original hanger and suspension loop. Silver-gray surfaces exhibit a number of small marks and a handful of wispy pinscratches appear in the field between the officer and the Indigenous chief. None of them are significant, and some may find they even enhance the appeal. Certainly, they pale in comparison to the historical significance and rarity of this offering.
Ex: Ian Laing; Warren Baker; Chris Schenkel Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1990), lot 4011; Donald G. Partrick.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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