By James McCartney – Senior Numismatist, Stack’s Bowers ……
The Washington Before Boston medal is one of the most significant relics of early America and the Revolutionary Era, with direct ties to the Founding Fathers and some of the most foundational events in our history. Washingtoniana specialist Neil Musante suggests that it is “one of the most treasured medals in all of American numismatics, and no hyperbole or cliché regarding its significance seems out of line.” In cataloging the Ford-Colonial Williamsburg specimen in our May 2004 sale, Michael Hodder called it “the single most historic of all early American medals and the prize of all Washingtoniana collections.
On March 19, 1776, General George Washington wrote to Congress to inform them of his victory over the British forces in Boston, which had been under siege since April 1775 following the battles of Lexington and Concord. Just days later on March 25, 1776, Congress resolved that Washington should be awarded a gold medal in celebration of this victory, though it wouldn’t be until about 1789 that the first medal would be struck in Paris from these dies.
The journey to completing these medals involved such significant personalities as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Pierre-Simon Duvivier, Augustin Dupre, Thomas Jefferson, Jean-Antoine Houdon, John Jay, John Hancock, Nathaniel Green and many others. George Washington was finally awarded his gold medal on March 21, 1790, in New York by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, almost exactly 14 years after his military victory. It has resided in the Boston Public Library since being purchased by the citizens of Boston in March 1876 for $5,000.
Following the production of Washington’s gold medal, a limited number were struck in silver and bronze. Just 10 silver examples from this original striking had been recorded by scholars John Adams and Anne Bentley in their 2007 census. The most recent offering of a silver example was our sale of the Dreyfuss-Wharton specimen in March 2014, which was called Choice About Uncirculated and realized $282,000 USD.
The present piece, a newly discovered silver example, has been certified Specimen-61 by PCGS and ranks among the finest examples known. It has descended in the same family over the past century and is a newcomer to the census, bringing the total to 11 known examples. Most significantly, it is one of just five silver examples in private hands making its appearance in our upcoming May 2019 Baltimore Auction – a monumental opportunity for collectors of Washingtoniana or early Americana.
This Specimen-61 (PCGS) example will be among the many highlights of our Official Auction of the 2019 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Summer Expo. The deadline to consign alongside this historic rarity is March 26. The sale will be available for viewing and bidding on our website www.StacksBowers.com, or you may contact our offices to secure a printed catalog. To speak with a numismatic representative, please call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected]. Also, download our mobile app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.