Skip to main content

Prize medal sells for $187,500

A Nobel Prize gold medal in economic sciences was sold for $187,500 May 31 by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles.

NobelMedal0624 vert

It was awarded in 2005 to Thomas C. Schelling.

Is this news something of interest to coin collectors?

Nobel Prize medals are not something coin collectors would normally encounter, nor would they aspire to build a set of them.

These medals are rare. That would interest collectors. They are made of gold. Ditto.

Apparently, since 1980, they are composed of 18-karat gold plated with 24-karat gold.

That makes it about .750 fine.

They are six troy ounces, according to the auction firm.

At $1,300 a troy ounce, that’s $5,850 in melt value.

One side has Alfred Nobel’s portrait.

On the other side is an inscription that says roughly, “Swedish Central Bank To Alfred Nobel’s Memory 1968.”

The date is the year the central bank created the economics prize.

It is not a Nobel Peace Prize, which most people would immediately recognize, but it is part of the Nobel Prize family.

That perhaps kept the sales price to a value far below the top American coin rarities.

However, 1804 dollars and 1913 Liberty Head nickels aside, the price is still quite a nice piece of change.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is the recipient of the proceeds, will likely not be unhappy.

I did not recognize the medal recipient’s name.

Most other coin collectors probably don’t, either.

However, as explained by the auction firm, “Schelling was best known for his expertise and elaboration of game theory, which many credited with reducing the risk of nuclear war. The concept of uncertain retaliation was expressed in his critically acclaimed 1960 book, ‘The Strategy of Conflict.’”

Schelling was born in 1921. He died in 2015. His theory lives on.

“He argued that unpredictability, a higher tolerance for risk, and a willingness to feign irrationality in decision-making could lead if performed correctly, to a superior position over one’s opponents, especially with nuclear weapons. This so-called ‘Madman Theory’ was used by Richard Nixon in his negotiations with the Soviet Union and North Vietnam, and many experts have stated that both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are currently using the strategy in negotiating with each other.”

The medal, according to the lot description, is engraved around the rim “T.C. SCHELLING MMV.”

Since I don’t see the name in the photo, perhaps in our collector terminology, it is engraved around the edge.

So is a medal awarded to a Harvard economics professor 1958-1990, who had an impact on the Cold War and current international relations, a numismatic item, an historical item, or some combination?

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2019 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2018 North American Coins & Prices guide.