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Very Rare 1755 Safety at Sea Medal, Betts-392

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Very Rare 1755 Safety at Sea Medal, Betts-392

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Details

1755 Safety at Sea medal or jeton. Silver, 35 mm. Betts-392. About Uncirculated. A very scarce Betts medal, sometimes considered a part of the Franco-American jeton series despite its likely German origin. This piece is high grade, with very little friction on the delicate and interesting designs. The obverse shows Mercury, representing commerce, between vessels from England and France (the former flagged with a harp, the symbol of Ireland, but occasionally foreign engravers were a bit imprecise). The reverse shows the classic mid-18th century allegory for America: an Indian with an alligator at his feet, just as is seen on the rarer of two versions of the Betts-385 Franco-American jeton. The native archer faces a seated Britannia across the sea. The legends translate along the lines of "Safety at Sea / The condition of affairs at the end of 1755 / It is better to compose the troubled waters," a reference to the tension between France and England in America, fraught but not yet violent. This medal was adopted into the Franco-American jeton series as early as 1889, after its appearance in the famed Gerald Hart sale (bringing a very healthy $30, roughly ten times what a decent bronze Libertas Americana medal was bringing at that time). Soon after, George Parsons, whose medal collection was sold by Henry Chapman in 1914, published a note on the medal in the AJN entitled "An Undescribed Franco-American Jeton." In 1899, Ed Frossard numbered this medal among his series of Franco-American jetons in his monograph on the topic. Undoubtedly the similarity of the Indian figure with an alligator to that found on Betts-385, along with the small size, inspired Parsons and Frossard's thoughts, but they likely didn't know that the PPW signature in the exergue was that of Peter Paul Werner, an engraver from Nuremberg. In any case, this medal started out rare and, unlike many rarities of the late 19th century, remained so. This example comes from a collection assembled in the 1950s and early 1960s. Some significant old hairlines, evidence of handling rather than polish, are noted under the very attractive deep antique gray toning. Highlights of pastel blue and deep gold are present, though an untoned area is present atop the obverse in an area once covered in lacquer. The overall eye appeal is excellent. Ford had three of these, two from the Wayte Raymond estate but only one acquired during Ford's decades of active Betts medal collecting. The best of Ford's brought $6325, trailing off to $1955 for the third piece, offered as Lot 111 in an evening sale that included more than 500 of the best Betts medals anyone had ever seen. Not a single one has been offered at auction since that warm May night in 2005, and one fewer is available: the third of Ford's three is now impounded in the cabinet of the American Numismatic Society, who had previously lacked this Betts number entirely.

Additional Information

Grading Service RAW
Grade N/A
Designation N/A
Mint Location Philadelphia
Strike Type Business
Circulated/Uncirc Uncirculated
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 110020

Listed below are blog articles related to this product listing, if applicable:

Description

Details

1755 Safety at Sea medal or jeton. Silver, 35 mm. Betts-392. About Uncirculated. A very scarce Betts medal, sometimes considered a part of the Franco-American jeton series despite its likely German origin. This piece is high grade, with very little friction on the delicate and interesting designs. The obverse shows Mercury, representing commerce, between vessels from England and France (the former flagged with a harp, the symbol of Ireland, but occasionally foreign engravers were a bit imprecise). The reverse shows the classic mid-18th century allegory for America: an Indian with an alligator at his feet, just as is seen on the rarer of two versions of the Betts-385 Franco-American jeton. The native archer faces a seated Britannia across the sea. The legends translate along the lines of "Safety at Sea / The condition of affairs at the end of 1755 / It is better to compose the troubled waters," a reference to the tension between France and England in America, fraught but not yet violent. This medal was adopted into the Franco-American jeton series as early as 1889, after its appearance in the famed Gerald Hart sale (bringing a very healthy $30, roughly ten times what a decent bronze Libertas Americana medal was bringing at that time). Soon after, George Parsons, whose medal collection was sold by Henry Chapman in 1914, published a note on the medal in the AJN entitled "An Undescribed Franco-American Jeton." In 1899, Ed Frossard numbered this medal among his series of Franco-American jetons in his monograph on the topic. Undoubtedly the similarity of the Indian figure with an alligator to that found on Betts-385, along with the small size, inspired Parsons and Frossard's thoughts, but they likely didn't know that the PPW signature in the exergue was that of Peter Paul Werner, an engraver from Nuremberg. In any case, this medal started out rare and, unlike many rarities of the late 19th century, remained so. This example comes from a collection assembled in the 1950s and early 1960s. Some significant old hairlines, evidence of handling rather than polish, are noted under the very attractive deep antique gray toning. Highlights of pastel blue and deep gold are present, though an untoned area is present atop the obverse in an area once covered in lacquer. The overall eye appeal is excellent. Ford had three of these, two from the Wayte Raymond estate but only one acquired during Ford's decades of active Betts medal collecting. The best of Ford's brought $6325, trailing off to $1955 for the third piece, offered as Lot 111 in an evening sale that included more than 500 of the best Betts medals anyone had ever seen. Not a single one has been offered at auction since that warm May night in 2005, and one fewer is available: the third of Ford's three is now impounded in the cabinet of the American Numismatic Society, who had previously lacked this Betts number entirely.

Additional

Additional Information

Grading Service RAW
Grade N/A
Designation N/A
Mint Location Philadelphia
Strike Type Business
Circulated/Uncirc Uncirculated
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 110020

Related Blog Article(s)

Listed below are blog articles related to this product listing, if applicable:

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