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Victor David Brenner's Extremely Rare Society of the Cincinnati Medal

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Victor David Brenner's Extremely Rare Society of the Cincinnati Medal

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Details

(ca. 1895) Society of the Cincinnati medal by Victor David Brenner. Silvered bronze, 45 mm. Baker V-345, Smedley-17, Hume-18. Choice Mint State. An obscure medallic rarity by one of America's most famed medallists produced in homage to one of America's most revered organizations. The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783 as an hereditary society for officers who served in the American Revolution. George Washington was its first president. Pierre L'Enfant, who gained fame for his design for Washington DC (which has driven those in cars insane ever since), designed the insignia for the society in 1784, a hanging badge in the shape of an eagle with a medallion on his chest that bears the same designs as the present medal. L'Enfant's original plan called for this badge to be produced as a round medal, but sentiment at the time called for something more reminiscent of European orders and decorations of the day, so his medal plan was abandoned (though it was illustrated on the "diplomas" or certificates that were awarded to early inductees). About 1900, Victor David Brenner, a famous American medallist who had not yet designed the Lincoln Cent, decided the the time for L'Enfant's design had come. According to the Rulau-Fuld edition of Baker, echoing the 1934 article by Edgar Erskine Hume in The Numismatist, "Brenner made these trial pieces in limited number to show off his own skill and to perpetuate the medallic design of L'Enfant, which had never eventuated into a medal." He lists medals in white metal and bronze, noting the ANS had both of these compositions in their collection.

 

The ANS, for their part, records owning specimens in bronze (accessed into their collection in 1898), silver (also accessed in 1898, not illustrated and not examined to be sure it really is silver), and lead (accessed 1987, which may mean it was "found in collection" and finally catalogued then). This specimen has a nice profound ring, but not a ring that suggests the sound of silver to me. I think it's silver-plated bronze, as it seems too heavy to be a silvered tin or something similar. The Ford example, literally the only other example I know of, is definitely bronze (and was definitely underappreciated in its 2005 auction appearance. A silver specimen brought $6.00, a large sum, in the 1925 sale of the W.W.C. Wilson sale as Lot 817. This example, acquired from a large and advanced collection assembled in the 1950s, bore "W.W. C. Wilson Collection #817, page 55" on its envelope in the hand of that collector, who also noted it was "silver" and "extra rare." This may well be the Wilson specimen, though given Wilson's lack of plates and the lack of an auction ticket or receipt, I couldn't prove it. Its surfaces are deeply and beautifully toned, dark slate gray with pastel highlights of blue and gold. The designs are well realized, and a glass picks up only the most trivial evidence of handling. The rims are perfect. 

 

Society of Cincinnati eagle badges have endured a renaissance of numismatic appreciation of late, from the ca. 1784 originals that have brought six-figure sums when offered to the unique eagle Washington gave to Lafayette that realized $5.3 million in 2007. Even the 19th century eagle badges sell well. This medal, however, appears less often than even 18th century eagle badges. No mintage figures exist, but given the Rulau-Fuld contention that they were "trial pieces" made "in limited number," this medal is likely somewhere in the Rarity-7 range. It is unpriced in that reference in both bronze and white metal, described simply as "Rare." None appeared in the famed 1907 Grolier Club exhibition of Brenner's work. For those who collect the works of Brenner, or numismatic productions related to the Society of the Cincinnati, this is a very rare opportunity indeed.

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 # 30001

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

Description

Details

(ca. 1895) Society of the Cincinnati medal by Victor David Brenner. Silvered bronze, 45 mm. Baker V-345, Smedley-17, Hume-18. Choice Mint State. An obscure medallic rarity by one of America's most famed medallists produced in homage to one of America's most revered organizations. The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783 as an hereditary society for officers who served in the American Revolution. George Washington was its first president. Pierre L'Enfant, who gained fame for his design for Washington DC (which has driven those in cars insane ever since), designed the insignia for the society in 1784, a hanging badge in the shape of an eagle with a medallion on his chest that bears the same designs as the present medal. L'Enfant's original plan called for this badge to be produced as a round medal, but sentiment at the time called for something more reminiscent of European orders and decorations of the day, so his medal plan was abandoned (though it was illustrated on the "diplomas" or certificates that were awarded to early inductees). About 1900, Victor David Brenner, a famous American medallist who had not yet designed the Lincoln Cent, decided the the time for L'Enfant's design had come. According to the Rulau-Fuld edition of Baker, echoing the 1934 article by Edgar Erskine Hume in The Numismatist, "Brenner made these trial pieces in limited number to show off his own skill and to perpetuate the medallic design of L'Enfant, which had never eventuated into a medal." He lists medals in white metal and bronze, noting the ANS had both of these compositions in their collection.

 

The ANS, for their part, records owning specimens in bronze (accessed into their collection in 1898), silver (also accessed in 1898, not illustrated and not examined to be sure it really is silver), and lead (accessed 1987, which may mean it was "found in collection" and finally catalogued then). This specimen has a nice profound ring, but not a ring that suggests the sound of silver to me. I think it's silver-plated bronze, as it seems too heavy to be a silvered tin or something similar. The Ford example, literally the only other example I know of, is definitely bronze (and was definitely underappreciated in its 2005 auction appearance. A silver specimen brought $6.00, a large sum, in the 1925 sale of the W.W.C. Wilson sale as Lot 817. This example, acquired from a large and advanced collection assembled in the 1950s, bore "W.W. C. Wilson Collection #817, page 55" on its envelope in the hand of that collector, who also noted it was "silver" and "extra rare." This may well be the Wilson specimen, though given Wilson's lack of plates and the lack of an auction ticket or receipt, I couldn't prove it. Its surfaces are deeply and beautifully toned, dark slate gray with pastel highlights of blue and gold. The designs are well realized, and a glass picks up only the most trivial evidence of handling. The rims are perfect. 

 

Society of Cincinnati eagle badges have endured a renaissance of numismatic appreciation of late, from the ca. 1784 originals that have brought six-figure sums when offered to the unique eagle Washington gave to Lafayette that realized $5.3 million in 2007. Even the 19th century eagle badges sell well. This medal, however, appears less often than even 18th century eagle badges. No mintage figures exist, but given the Rulau-Fuld contention that they were "trial pieces" made "in limited number," this medal is likely somewhere in the Rarity-7 range. It is unpriced in that reference in both bronze and white metal, described simply as "Rare." None appeared in the famed 1907 Grolier Club exhibition of Brenner's work. For those who collect the works of Brenner, or numismatic productions related to the Society of the Cincinnati, this is a very rare opportunity indeed.

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 # 30001

Related Blog Article(s)

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

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