(1800) Washington Funeral Medal. Gold. 24 x 29 mm oval. 13.92 grains. Baker-169. About Uncirculated.
Rare and Interesting Washington Funeral Medal in Gold
Oval, "For the Ladies"
Uniface. A fine example of this rare, paper thin, struck gold medal marking the passing of George Washington. The detail is excellent, though the typically encountered waviness is present, with a short crease at HE IN and another from 11:30 to below 3 o'clock. Some natural gaps in the metal are visible above RLD IN in the upper right quadrant. The surfaces are bright and reflective, showing light toning against rich yellow gold. This piece shows no evidence of mounting.
On January 13, 1800, goldsmith and jeweler Eben Moulton of Cornhill Street in Boston listed the following classified advertisement in the Columbian Centinel and Massachusetts Federalist: "FOR THE LADIES. Washington Medals, designed to put up in Lockets &c. executed by Mr. Perkins, for sale at No. 11 Cornhill by Eben Moulton." This "ladies medal," of more delicate size and distinctive production, is the type seen here. Of the specimens that survive -- which perhaps number a dozen or so, many of which are in institutional collections -- several are contained in fancy jewelry of the period, including the specimen offered in our May 1993 sale with a multi-pearled bezel, and the specimen that descended in the family of John Marshall, now in the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. It appears that this one-sided medal was sold on its own, such that the purchaser could have a custom piece of jewelry produced to house it, though undoubtedly Moulton could have made any sort of housing to order. There also exist at least a couple displayed in a grand Masonic housing (see The Numismatist, February 1954) and some, like this one, were simply holed for suspension. This type is typically offered only when world-class offerings of Washingtoniana are sold. The Ford specimen, one of the finest and earlier from the Zabriskie and Boyd Collections, brought $21,850 back in May 2004. A specimen in our (Stack's) May 2007 Henry Leon sale brought $34,500 in unholed condition. As thin and seemingly ephemeral as these medals are, it is surprising that as many have survived as do.
Pedigree: From the Charles A. Wharton Collection. Earlier from Presidential Coin and Antique Company's 48th sale, June 1990, lot 302; EAHA's sale of December 1999, lot 47; Heritage's sale of August 2000, lot 5007. Lot tags included.