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HomeMedals and Tokens1892-3 Columbus So-Called Dollar/Award Medal and Obverse Die

1892-3 Columbus So-Called Dollar/Award Medal and Obverse Die

1892-3 Columbus So-Called Dollar/Award Medal

by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Charles Barber Bronze, 38.1 mm, R.5.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens first work for the US Mint

One of our favorite so-called dollars, the Saint-Gaudens/Barber HK-223.

This is the medal that began the entire Charles Barber-Augustus Saint-Gaudens rivalry and controversy.

The well-known Columbian Exposition prize medal was Augustus Saint-Gaudens first attempt to work with Mint officials.

“The Saint’s” masterful obverse depicts a Columbus transfixed by the moment he sets foot onto the New World; his massive form, nearly stepping out of the round tondo, reminds the viewer of the massive treatment of the purposeful striding Liberty he would place, 15 years later, on the double eagle.

As well designed as the obverse of this medal is, it is probably even better known for the rejected reverse design by Saint-Gaudens.

His original reverse design, featuring a nude Greek youth, was rejected for reasons but obvious and obscure, that differ according to the source.

In any case, as finally issued, the medal has Saint-Gaudens obverse married with what many would call a predictable and uninspired design by Charles Barber for the reverse.

REFERENCE NOTE: Vermeule’s Numismatic Art in America provides much useful information on the subject for interested readers.

This is also an award medal that was presented to EDWARD JANSEN, the name stamped onto a plate affixed to the base of the plaque on the reverse.

Charles Barbers predictable Reverse design
Charles Barbers predictable Reverse design

The Official Directory of the World’s Columbian Exposition (May 1-Oct. 30, 1893) lists an “Ed. Jansen” of New York as a manufacturer of “reed and rattan furniture.”

The piece is in splendid original Gem Mint State, with lustrous, unperturbed medium-brown surfaces and loads of eye appeal. Likely the only reason the piece is uncertified is because it includes the original hinged metal (embossed aluminum?) case of issue, also a beautiful example with a grapevine motif. A memorable and attractive medal offering.

This items was sold in the 2008 September Heritage Long Beach, CA Tokens & Medals Signature Auction #1100 as LOT # 29354 and sold for $517.50

Obverse Die for the 1892 Columbian Exposition Presentation Medal

Die for the Obverse of the 1892 Columbian Exposition Presentation Medal. Eglit-90. Dryfhout-151.

The block of die steel measures 147 mm square and is 62 mm deep. The die face is 77 mm. Obviously, this was the anvil die, and as such it is VERY heavy.


The curious part of this die is that Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ name has been effaced. The lower rim should read AVGUSTVS SAINT GAVDEN FECIT. A uniface test pressing is included also, and that piece clearly shows the sculptor’s name, a clear indication that the pressing was struck and then at some later date the sculptor’s name was effaced.

The test pressing shows areas of exposed copper ad there is extensive green corrosion in the recesses of Columbus’ cloak. On the top left portion of the die face is the number 61374.

Was sold in 2006 April (CSNS) Heritage Signature Auction #404 as LOT # 5398 for $6,325.00 USD.


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  1. I received a Saint-Gaudens/Barber HK-223 coin from my Great Grandfather about 30 years ago, I put it in a sleeve and haven’t thought of it in a long time. I have often wondered what it would sell for.


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