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Rare (ca. 1863) US Mint Gunmetal Dies John Paul Jones Medal, Julian NA-1

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Rare (ca. 1863) US Mint Gunmetal Dies John Paul Jones Medal, Julian NA-1

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Details

1779 (ca. 1863) John Paul Jones medal. Bronze, 55.6 mm. Julian NA-1, Betts-568. US Mint Gunmetal dies. About Uncirculated. Plain edge. Perhaps the rarest form of this famous early American medal, struck from dies created at the Philadelphia Mint in the spring of 1863 by hubbing bronze (so-called "gunmetal") dies from medals struck from the original dies at the Paris Mint. Original John Paul Jones medals are, of course, avidly sought after, but are in fact more common than the Gunmetal US Mint strikes. The later edge-marked Paris Mint restrikes are the most common form of this medal, while the later US Mint copy dies made in the 1880s are much rarer than the Paris Mint strikes but perhaps not as rare as the production from these short-lived Gunmetal dies.

US Mint records reflect that 25 John Paul Jones medals were struck in bronze in 1863, 25 more in 1868, 10 more in 1875, another 10 in 1876/77, a further 10 in 1877/78, then 20 more in 1880/81. The US Mint copy dies were likely made in the 1870s, and the specimens struck in 1875 and after were probably from those new dies. This would leave a total mintage from the Gunmetal dies of just 50 pieces, a sensible lifespan for dies made from soft bronze instead of durable steel.

This medal shows that the dies have started to break down, with a substantial cud above 9:00 on the obverse and two bigger breaks at 9:00 and 10:00 on the reverse. There is a slightly earlier die state with the cud at 9:00 but no cud at 10:00, as seen on a specimen sold at Stack's in 2008. That piece, like many of the Gunmetal medals, was miscatalogued and misunderstood. Julian notes that the Philadelphia Mint dies lack the name DUPRE under the bust. While true of the 1870s Barber copy dies, the Gunmetal dies are exact copies of the Paris Mint strikes and thus include the Dupre signature. Because of this misunderstanding, many of the Gunmetal die specimens have been offered over the years as plain edge Paris Mint originals -- ignoring the fact that the dies were broken and thus can't be earlier strikes from the same Paris Mint dies that remained unbroken well into the 1870s. 

This example shows some handling, with scattered minor contact marks, two tiny rim ticks below C of COMITIA, another just right of 6:00 on the reverse, and the merest cabinet friction on the high relief devices. The surfaces are a pleasant medium brown, quite different from the typical deep mahogany surfaces found on the 1870s-80s US Mint copy die productions but also different than the usually reflective Paris Mint strikes. A little area of toning is present behind the head under JONES. 

For collectors of US Mint medals, this is the first American-made John Paul Jones medal; it fits into a collection of Julian-listed medals whereas a Paris Mint strike, technically, does not. For Comitia Americana medal enthusiasts, many find that owning specimens from the original dies, the Gunmetal dies, and the later US Mint copy dies makes for a far more complete collection than owning just one of the three.

Additional Information

Grading Service RAW
Grade RAW
Designation N/A
Mint Location N/A
Strike Type N/A
Circulated/Uncirc Not Specified
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 17022

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

Description

Details

1779 (ca. 1863) John Paul Jones medal. Bronze, 55.6 mm. Julian NA-1, Betts-568. US Mint Gunmetal dies. About Uncirculated. Plain edge. Perhaps the rarest form of this famous early American medal, struck from dies created at the Philadelphia Mint in the spring of 1863 by hubbing bronze (so-called "gunmetal") dies from medals struck from the original dies at the Paris Mint. Original John Paul Jones medals are, of course, avidly sought after, but are in fact more common than the Gunmetal US Mint strikes. The later edge-marked Paris Mint restrikes are the most common form of this medal, while the later US Mint copy dies made in the 1880s are much rarer than the Paris Mint strikes but perhaps not as rare as the production from these short-lived Gunmetal dies.

US Mint records reflect that 25 John Paul Jones medals were struck in bronze in 1863, 25 more in 1868, 10 more in 1875, another 10 in 1876/77, a further 10 in 1877/78, then 20 more in 1880/81. The US Mint copy dies were likely made in the 1870s, and the specimens struck in 1875 and after were probably from those new dies. This would leave a total mintage from the Gunmetal dies of just 50 pieces, a sensible lifespan for dies made from soft bronze instead of durable steel.

This medal shows that the dies have started to break down, with a substantial cud above 9:00 on the obverse and two bigger breaks at 9:00 and 10:00 on the reverse. There is a slightly earlier die state with the cud at 9:00 but no cud at 10:00, as seen on a specimen sold at Stack's in 2008. That piece, like many of the Gunmetal medals, was miscatalogued and misunderstood. Julian notes that the Philadelphia Mint dies lack the name DUPRE under the bust. While true of the 1870s Barber copy dies, the Gunmetal dies are exact copies of the Paris Mint strikes and thus include the Dupre signature. Because of this misunderstanding, many of the Gunmetal die specimens have been offered over the years as plain edge Paris Mint originals -- ignoring the fact that the dies were broken and thus can't be earlier strikes from the same Paris Mint dies that remained unbroken well into the 1870s. 

This example shows some handling, with scattered minor contact marks, two tiny rim ticks below C of COMITIA, another just right of 6:00 on the reverse, and the merest cabinet friction on the high relief devices. The surfaces are a pleasant medium brown, quite different from the typical deep mahogany surfaces found on the 1870s-80s US Mint copy die productions but also different than the usually reflective Paris Mint strikes. A little area of toning is present behind the head under JONES. 

For collectors of US Mint medals, this is the first American-made John Paul Jones medal; it fits into a collection of Julian-listed medals whereas a Paris Mint strike, technically, does not. For Comitia Americana medal enthusiasts, many find that owning specimens from the original dies, the Gunmetal dies, and the later US Mint copy dies makes for a far more complete collection than owning just one of the three.

Additional

Additional Information

Grading Service RAW
Grade RAW
Designation N/A
Mint Location N/A
Strike Type N/A
Circulated/Uncirc Not Specified
Grade Add On N/A
SKU or Cert # 17022

Related Blog Article(s)

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

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