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American Fur Company, John Jacob Astor Indian Medal, n.d. [1832-42]. Silver

From Stack's October 2006 New York Auction, Session 1 on Oct 17, 2006

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Categories  •  Stack's October 2006 New York The John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part XVI: Indian Peace Medals, 1680 - 1890 Medals Privately Issued for Presentation to First Peoples The American Fur Company John Jacob Astor Medals

American Fur Company, John Jacob Astor Indian Medal, n.d. [1832-42]. Silver.  Prucha 61, Belden 65....American Fur Company, John Jacob Astor Indian Medal, n.d. [1832-42]. Silver. Prucha 61, Belden 65. Very nice and clean Choice Very Fine. 64.9mm. Rims 3.5 - 3.8mm. thick. 1,719.4 gns. Neatly holed near the top rim without breaking through the edge. Pale silver gray in color on both sides. Fairly evenly worn but without suffering any serious and disfiguring marks. Altogether, quite a remarkable piece. The Finest Example in Silver Owned Privately. Far superior to the double holed piece Stack's sold in January, 2003, the only other silver piece confirmed known in private hands.

Extremely rare: The cataloguer can point to only seven confirmed and two rumored American Fur Company Astor medals known in silver: (1) American Numismatic Society ex Hunter:116 (S.H. Chapman, December 9, 1920) for a then princely $350, originally found on the prairie south of Dickinson, Dakota Territory in the summer of 1882 by photographer Frank Jay Haynes near a human skull with a bullet hole in it and part of an old flint lock rifle; (2) Missouri Historical Society; (3) University of North Dakota; (4) Iowa State Historical Society but reverse without any inscriptions; (5) Minnesota Historical Society ex the Gabriel Franchere Family, founder of Astoria in Oregon for the American Fur Company; (6) this specimen; (7) lot 1519 in Stack's 2003 Americana Sale ex lot 535 of Sotheby's (London) sale of April 16, 1985; (8) rumored in a private New York collection; (9) rumored in a private midwestern collection. The Glenbow and Denver Museum Collections, notable for their breadth, do not contain an Astor medal, nor is there one in the Schermer Collection at the National Portrait Gallery.

As might be expected from its rarity, American Fur Company Astor medals appear at auction very infrequently. The last sale of a silver American Fur Company Astor medal was in these rooms in January, 2003. That piece had come from a Sotheby's (London) auction in 1985. Going backwards, the Spink (Australia) sale of 1980 was the next in line to offer an Astor medal (this example). Previously, the only other modern American auction record the cataloguer can conveniently recall was the 1920 Hunter sale at which the ANS bought its unholed relict.

Ex Spink & Son (Australia), Pty.'s sale of November 20, 1980, lot 228B.

Lot # 182 Session 1
Hammer Price: $175,000.00

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Click to open a larger image - American Fur Company, John Jacob Astor Indian Medal, n.d. [1832-42]. Silver.  Prucha 61, Belden 65.... Click to open a larger image - American Fur Company, John Jacob Astor Indian Medal, n.d. [1832-42]. Silver.  Prucha 61, Belden 65....

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