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The First Medal Struck in California: The Extremely Rare 1852 Henry Clay Memorial Medal

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The First Medal Struck in California: The Extremely Rare 1852 Henry Clay Memorial Medal

SOLD

Provenance as described, from the 1918 Ramsey McCoy sale by Thomas Elder to F.C.C. Boyd to John J. Ford, Jr.

Details

1852 Henry Clay Citizens of California memorial medal. Silver, 22 mm. Elder-71 ["The Medals and Tokens of Henry Clay" by Thomas Elder in The Numismatist, March-May 1918]. Choice Fine. Once mounted for suspension at 12:00, likely as issued. The Elder plate medal, illustrated in the May 1918 issue of The Numismatist, earlier from the March 1918 Thomas Elder sale of the famed Ramsey McCoy collection of political tokens and medals, collected from the 1860s into the 20th century and perhaps the finest collection ever formed. Elder, who had by then been in business for two decades and developed a special interest in Henry Clay material, noted it was the "first seen." It was apparently acquired from the McCoy sale by F.C.C. Boyd, who had no others. By the time John Ford subsumed the Boyd Collection into his own, despite his predilection for quadruplication, this was likewise the only example he owned. Indeed, aside from a specimen of unknown quality in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, I know of only one other example in private hands. 

Its rarity is enough to recommend it, but this unassuming little medal may hold another important distinction: that of the very first medal to have been struck in California, and the only medal engraved by a well-known producer of California fractional gold coins. The legendary San Francisco Alderman's medal was produced in 1850, but it was engraved and assembled by hand, not struck from dies. (They also happen to be rare and rather pricey.) After this medal, made in 1852, the next California-struck medals that comes to mind are the 1856 Committee of Vigilance medals, which are also rare and rather pricey.) 

Beneath the somewhat crude rendition of Henry Clay are the initials D.N., the signature of Deriberpie and Nouizillet, makers of Period One California fractionals. Their inexperience in medal making shows on the reverse in particular: the central inscription of Clay's birth and death dates are punched upside down relative to the peripheral legend "The citizens of California to the memory of Henry Clay." These may have been made in a hurry: just a few days passed between the news of Clay's death reaching San Francisco and the enormous "Celebration of the Obsequies of Henry Clay by the Citizens of San Francisco, California" that took place on August 10, 1852. This medalet, mounted and intended to be worn, was likely sold or otherwise distributed on that day.

This example, like the other privately owned specimen known, is well worn. The surfaces are pleasantly toned with a host of pastel tones over pale silver gray. There are a scattering of rim bruises, minor marks and scratches, and evidence of handling, which luckily allow this to be plate matched to its 1918 appearance in The Numismatist. While perhaps a Mint State piece is lovely to conceive of, it appears no such animal has survived.

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 # 30006

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

Description

Details

1852 Henry Clay Citizens of California memorial medal. Silver, 22 mm. Elder-71 ["The Medals and Tokens of Henry Clay" by Thomas Elder in The Numismatist, March-May 1918]. Choice Fine. Once mounted for suspension at 12:00, likely as issued. The Elder plate medal, illustrated in the May 1918 issue of The Numismatist, earlier from the March 1918 Thomas Elder sale of the famed Ramsey McCoy collection of political tokens and medals, collected from the 1860s into the 20th century and perhaps the finest collection ever formed. Elder, who had by then been in business for two decades and developed a special interest in Henry Clay material, noted it was the "first seen." It was apparently acquired from the McCoy sale by F.C.C. Boyd, who had no others. By the time John Ford subsumed the Boyd Collection into his own, despite his predilection for quadruplication, this was likewise the only example he owned. Indeed, aside from a specimen of unknown quality in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, I know of only one other example in private hands. 

Its rarity is enough to recommend it, but this unassuming little medal may hold another important distinction: that of the very first medal to have been struck in California, and the only medal engraved by a well-known producer of California fractional gold coins. The legendary San Francisco Alderman's medal was produced in 1850, but it was engraved and assembled by hand, not struck from dies. (They also happen to be rare and rather pricey.) After this medal, made in 1852, the next California-struck medals that comes to mind are the 1856 Committee of Vigilance medals, which are also rare and rather pricey.) 

Beneath the somewhat crude rendition of Henry Clay are the initials D.N., the signature of Deriberpie and Nouizillet, makers of Period One California fractionals. Their inexperience in medal making shows on the reverse in particular: the central inscription of Clay's birth and death dates are punched upside down relative to the peripheral legend "The citizens of California to the memory of Henry Clay." These may have been made in a hurry: just a few days passed between the news of Clay's death reaching San Francisco and the enormous "Celebration of the Obsequies of Henry Clay by the Citizens of San Francisco, California" that took place on August 10, 1852. This medalet, mounted and intended to be worn, was likely sold or otherwise distributed on that day.

This example, like the other privately owned specimen known, is well worn. The surfaces are pleasantly toned with a host of pastel tones over pale silver gray. There are a scattering of rim bruises, minor marks and scratches, and evidence of handling, which luckily allow this to be plate matched to its 1918 appearance in The Numismatist. While perhaps a Mint State piece is lovely to conceive of, it appears no such animal has survived.

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 # 30006

Related Blog Article(s)

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

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