Stack’s Bowers Galleries completed their auction at the Whitman Baltimore Spring Expo and one standout specimen from that event in a famous original Washington Before Boston Medal in silver. Labeled as “The Most Historic and Prized of American Medals,” the lot closed at $156,000 on May 24.
The medal is noted as “1776” (ca. 1789) with silver composition, measuring 68.85mm and weighing 2781.8 grains. It was graded as Speciment-61 by PCGS. Close inspection of the medal reveals a bit of handling, including light cabinet friction on the highest points and scattered fine marks. However, the beautiful toning masks much of this and overall the eye appeal is one of the finest in private hands.
The plain edge bears two unusual features. First, at six o’clock relative to the obverse, you will find neatly engraved, ALFRED B CARB, the name of a former owner who is forever tied to this medal. Second, at twelve o’clock, a small arc of file marks is seen which may be the result of being held firm for the engraving directly opposite it. Neither feature is visible from the obverse or reverse.
With Washington's unique gold one in the care of the Boston Public Library, the very rare original impressions in silver represent the very pinnacle of what a collector can acquire. They are as close as one can come to the gold original, the relevant actions and sentiments of the American Congress, and the inherent celebration of George Washington that these medals represent. This discovery of a new specimen of a silver original Washington Before Boston medal is a landmark occasion. This is the first new example available to collectors in decades.
Stack’s Bowers reports they have handled at auction four of the reported examples. The first sold as part of the David W. Dreyfus Collection in 1986 for $18,150. The second in 1999, known as the Lucien LaRiviere specimen, selling for $64,400. In 2004, the John J. Ford specimen brought $43,125 and in 2014 the Charles Wharton Collection example surpassed all expectations when it sold for $282,000.