Benefactor’s multi-million dollar exonumia donation includes over 800 medals from Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s famous Baker Collection
More than 850 gold, silver, and bronze medals related to President George Washington that were deaccessioned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania have been donated intact to the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) Edward C. Rochette Money Museum by prominent California rare coin dealer and real estate developer Dwight Manley.
Manley’s generous donation also includes other important Washington-related medals he separately acquired over the years that were not part of the historical society’s collection originally assembled by 19th-century numismatist and researcher William Spohn Baker (1824-1897). In all, more than 1,000 medals and coins are in the donation.
To be known as the Baker-Manley Collection, the multi-million dollar donation was announced at the ANA Banquet on August 13, 2021 during the Association’s Chicago World’s Fair of Money.
“This collection is the ultimate grouping of numismatic Washingtonia not only for its size but, more importantly, for its provenance – it was formed by William Spohn Baker, the first numismatic researcher to compile a systematic and comprehensive catalog of the vast series of medals related to George Washington,” states Doug Mudd, curator and director of the ANA museum.
Hundreds of different medals celebrating George Washington were privately produced in the decades before and after his death in December 1799.
In 1885, Baker authored what is still considered the standard reference book on the subject, Medallic Portraits of Washington, and donated his famous collection in 1897 to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Manley purchased more than 75 percent of the society’s Baker Collection of Washingtonian medals when 1,102 of them were offered at auction by Stack’s Bowers in November 2019.
“The Baker Collection languished for more than a century in storage at the historical society. When the medals came on the market, I wanted to keep as much of the collection intact as possible,” says Manley. “Now these important numismatic treasures will be part of the ANA’s holdings and available for public exhibits and future study.”
“These are the Mount Rushmore of medals; each one has a story. In addition to exhibits in the Money Museum and at ANA conventions, they could be used for Summer Seminar and Florence Schook School of Numismatics classes, for research to update the Baker reference book or even create a book using illustrations of George Washington medals. The collection is a portrait of American history through images of our first president,” he states.
Highlights of the donated Baker Collection include:
• A rare 1862 brass Washington, D.C. emancipation medal depicting George Washington (Musante GW-566, Baker-620), PCGS AU58, engraved to Henry Clarck, who may have been a freed slave at the time. President Abraham Lincoln signed the national Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, but Washington, D.C. enacted emancipation months earlier in April 1862.
• A superb quality example of a silver 1805 medal commemorating the Peace of 1783 (Musante GW-92, Baker-58, Julian CM-5), PCGS SP64, the fourth and final entry in the “History of the Revolution Medal” series.
• One of only 10 known 1805 Commander in Chief, Armies of the United States (C.C.A.U.S.) silver medals (Musante GW-90, Baker-57, Julian CM-6), PCGS SP58, produced as the first of an intended series of medals celebrating the history of the Revolution. Stack’s Bowers, the auction house that sold the historical society’s Baker Collection, stated: “The C.C.A.U.S. medal has long been considered a landmark of the Washington series.”
Among the important medals separately acquired by Manley and now donated to the ANA are:
• A spectacular, silver 1792-dated oval Indian Peace medal with an engraving depicting Washington extending his hand in friendship and peace to a pipe-smoking native American who has placed his long-handled battle-ax on the ground as a gesture of goodwill. It is one of only five known of this date.
• An 1800 gold funeral medal produced by diemaker Jacob Perkins (1766-1849) of Newburyport, Massachusetts that was worn at a February 1800 funeral procession in Boston held in honor of Washington about two months after he died at his Mount Vernon home in Virginia.
“We are beyond thankful to Dwight Manley for bestowing this incredible gift of history and art to the Association,” says ANA Executive Director Kim Kiick. “We look forward to sharing pieces from this wonderful collection in the upcoming Money Museum exhibit in March of 2022.”
Manley has been a benefactor to the ANA for many years. In 2003, the Association named its library in his honor.
As Managing Partner of the California Gold Marketing Group, he is well-known in the numismatic community for his work with recovered sunken treasure from the fabled “Ship of Gold“, the SS Central America that sank in 1857 while carrying tons of California Gold Rush-era coins and assayers’ ingots. He also is Managing Partner of real estate development company Manley Fanticola Partners in his hometown of Brea, California.