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Montreal Medal, n.d. [1760]

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 British Indian Medal Types George III The Montreal Medal of 1760

Montreal Medal, n.d. [1760]. Obverse signed DCF (Daniel Christian Fueter, New York City silversmith...Montreal Medal, n.d. [1760]. Obverse signed DCF (Daniel Christian Fueter, New York City silversmith 1754-ca. 1775). Adams 1, Fuld-Tayman M1 (''The Montreal and Happy While United Medals'' in 1987 Coinage of the Americas Conference proceedings), Jamieson figure 9, Betts 431 (for type). Silver. Cast and chased as made. 44.9mm. 343.5 gns. Skyline view of the City of Montreal from the American side of the St. Lawrence River, five steeples showing, large flag at right, MONTREAL above and engraver's stamp, below; reverse deeply engraved MOHICRANS in the center, more lightly in cursive at the top SONGOSE (this partially effaced), other script lettering nearer the bottom edge now essentially illegible. Original hanger at top. Plain edge. Fine. Medium silver gray on the front, lighter on the back. Obverse mostly free from the attentions of the improvers, back cleaned, scratched, damaged. Extremely rare.

Almost all of the 182 medals known to have been ordered made in 1760 have disappeared over the past two hundred and more years. The present specimen is one of just 7 different Montreal Medals documented by Jamieson and Adams of which only four can be traced today (Adams 4 and 7 are the same medal). The whereabouts of three, the medals named to Caneiya of the Onondaga, Aruntes of the Mohawk, and Madoghk of the Mohicans are unknown (the first was last documented in 1903, the other two in 1926 and 1925, respectively). The medal named to Tekahonwaghse of the Onondaga is in the collection of the Chateau Ramezay, the one named to Koskhahho is in the Glenbow Museum, and the one named to Tantalkel of the Mohicans is in the Public Archives of Canada. Mr. Ford's medal, named to Songose of the Mohicans, is the only one known to be owned privately and so is the only one confirmed available to collectors.

The Montreal Medal was conceived as a reward for the loyalty of the 182 Native Americans who remained with Sir William Johnson and the British army to the end of the Montreal campaign in 1760. Major General Jeffrey Amherst ordered the medals made to serve as a ''badge of Distinction'' and a laisser passez into and from British army bases. Medals were distributed by Johnson in the late Spring and Summer, 1761. Details can be read in Johnson's collected papers (volume 10, p. 254). The medal's design and execution have been criticized as inept and miserly but it should be remembered it was meant to be a durable free pass through the lines and not an ornament for display. This particular medal was described by Beauchamp in 1903. His account will be found below.

Ex a Mr. Kelly in 1875, Joseph Wescot, E. Hallenbeck in 1902; C.A. Laframboise, Robert Brule on June 8, 1961.

The Montreal Medal has been described and argued over for decades, particularly by McLachlan and Beauchamp. Victor Morin's description, written early in the preceding century, is a pleasant snapshot of the state of understanding of his time.

''The conferment of the following medal has not yet been clearly explained; it is designated by McLachlan under the name of 'Medal of the Conquest' in his work 'Medals awarded to the Canadian Indians', and he puts forth the opinion that it was distributed by Sir William Johnson, Major General and Superintendent of Affairs of the Six Nations, to the heads of the Indian troops whom he had led to the attack of Montreal under Amherst in 1760.

The design of this medal differs completely from the conventional types followed until this time, for the obverse represents a fortified town, situated on a river-bank, and has at the top the inscription 'MONTREAL', while in a depressed ellipse at the bottom is the exergue 'D.C.F.'. The reverse is smooth, but on the specimens which have been found up to the present time, an unskillful hand has engraved as the legend the name of the Chief to whom the medal was awarded, and the name of his tribe as the inscription. This medal, which is in silver, seems to have been cast and chased; it has a loop, and its diameter is 45 millimetres.

At first the representation of Montreal which it shows seems fantastic, but if one compares it with the views of the town which were published at this time, particularly those of the 'London Magazine' and the 'Royal Magazine' of 1760, and that of Patten published by Jeffreys in 1762, one can easily recognize the same source of inspiration; the engraver depicts, as well as one can do in the limited space of a medal, the River St. Lawrence, the fortified wall, the fort on which flies the British flag, the Jesuit church, the Congregational chapel, the Parish church of Notre-Dame, the Hospital, the Franciscans church, and a sixth steeple, placed, however, too far back, is supposed to represent the General Hospital. It is wrongly claimed that the Bonsecours chapel was among the steeples thus named, for it had been destroyed in the fire of 1754, and it was not until 1772 that it was rebuilt.

The designer of this medal, who took the trouble of making himself conspicuous by monopolizing the exergue for his signature 'D.C.F.' remained, however, unknown by the principal numismatists for a long time; the novelty of the design led McLachlan to conclude, in the articles which he wrote about this medal up to 1908, that it had been made in America by an unknown engraver of New York, while Betts contented himself with quoting this opinion and observing that the initials 'D.C.' might well be the initials of this engraver, and the letter 'F' simply stands for the word 'fecit'. But McLachlan's opinion has since been confirmed, such as he asserted in a communication to 'The American Journal of Numismatics' in 1909, and one can get a clear idea of it on consulting Chaffers work 'Gilda Aurifabrorum' or that of Howard 'Old London Silver'; this mysterious unknown man was a silversmith named D.C. Fueter, (whom Howard, by a typographical error, misnamed Fuetes) of Chelsea, who had registered his mark (the initials D.C.F. in an oval) at the Guild of Silversmiths in London in 1753.

One can see in Forrer's 'Dictionary of Medallists' that Fueter actually emigrated to New York in 1754 and that he went later to Bethlehem, in Pennsylvania, then returned to Switzerland in 1769. These biographical details also dispel Beauchamp's opinion, which ascribes this medal to the period of the American revolution.

Twenty-three of these medals appear to have been distributed by Sir William Johnson; of this number, six are known up to the present time, they bear the names of the Chiefs Caneiya and Tekahonwaghse of the tribe of the Onondagos, Aruntes of the Mohawks, Tantalkel, Songase and Madoghk of the tribe of the Mohigrans or Mohicans. The medal of Tekahonwaghse belongs to R.W. McLachlan of Montreal, and it has the following note engraved at the base of the reverse: 'Taken from an Indian Cheif (sic) in the American War 1761'; if it belonged to a Chief killed in 1761, the theory that it was awarded in 1760 would therefore be plausible. Mr. W.H. Hunter of Toronto purchased the medal of Madoghk, and that of Tantalkel is in the Parliament library at Ottawa. George III came to the throne of England on the 25th October 1760; the capitulation of Montreal had just been signed and the flag of the Bourbons had been replaced by the banner of St. George from the shores of the Atlantic to the sources of the Great Lakes. But peace not yet being settled, England, who was anxious to keep her conquests in America, wished to win the friendship of the various Indian tribes by rewarding the warriors who had fought under her flag and by making treaties of friendship with the others.''

Some accounts of the discoveries of some specimens of the Montreal Medal may be read in the pages (61-3) of the New York State Museum Bulletin 73 (''Metallic Ornaments of the New York Indians''):

''Mr. J. V. H. Clark described one several times examined by the writer. 'A silver medal was found near Eagle village, about the size of a dollar, but a little thinner, with a ring or loop at one edge, to admit a cord by which it might be suspended. On one side appears in relief, a somewhat rude representation of a fortified town, with several tall steeples rising above its buildings, and a citadel from which the British flag is flying; a river broken by an island or two, occupies the foreground, and above, along the upper edge of the medal, is the name Montreal. The initials, D. C. F., probably of the manufacturer, are stamped below. On the other side, which was originally made blank, are engraved the words CANECYA, Onondagoes. There is no date on this or any other of the medals. But this must be at least older than the Revolution.'

This should be Caneiya in script and Onondagos in capitals. Fig. 281 shows this medal as drawn by the writer at Mr. L.W. Ledyard's, Cazenovia N. Y. in 1882. It was in his possession for many years. If of revolutionary date, as the writer thinks probable, the Caneiya of the medal might correspond with the Onondaga chief Kaneyaagh, of the treaty of 1788. Mr. McLachlan kindly furnished figures of some medals. Fig. 282 shows one of these, and his description follows: Obverse, Montreal; in the exergue, DCF stamped in a sunk oval. A view of a walled town with a body of water in the foreground, into which a small stream flows. There are five church spires ranged along the middle of the town, and a flag displaying St. George's cross to the right. Reverse. Plain; Onondagos is engraved in capitals across the field, and the name Tekahonwaghse in script at the top. Some one has, at a later time, scratched across the lower part with a sharp pointed instrument, in three lines, / Taken from an Indian / chief in the AMERICAN / WAR, 1761./

Mr. Betts also illustrated and described this medal.

In the addition [to Betts] there is an evident error for there was no war in that year, but, if it were 1781, it would correspond with the American war, as the English termed that of the Revolution. Allowing this date, Tekahonwaghse, an Onondaga chief who signed the treaty of 1788, or Tagonaghquaghse, appointed chief warrior of that nation in 1770, and perhaps the chief of 1788. Mr. McLachlan had this medal from the Bushnell collection. He added, 'I know of another in the collection of James Ollier of New York. I am under the impression that it is also in silver, and that it bears the name Onondagos.' No account could be obtained of this.

[Fig. 283] is a similar silver medal, bought by Mr. McLachlan in London. On the reverse this has Mohawks in the field, and Aruntes above. It is in extra fine condition. This name does not appear among the many on record in the French war, nor is there any resembling it, but 'The Answer of Thayendanegea a Sachem, and of Ohrante a warrior of the Mohocks to the Right Honble Lord George Germaine', London, May 7, 1776, is preserved in full.

Those familiar with the great variations in spelling Indian names, and the rank of this person, will have little doubt that Ohrante and Aruntes are the same. It is a curious coincidence that this well preserved medal was obtained in London, where Ohrante spent some months. In another place the Mohawk warrior is called Oteroughyanento, Indians often having two names. In the writer's exhaustive list of Iroquois personal names this nowhere else appears, but it is an unexpected gratification to link the three Iroquois names obtained on these medals with well known persons of the revolutionary period.

Concerning these two Mohawks, Guy Johnson wrote in London. Jan. 26, 1776: 'The Indian Chief who accompanied me, with his companion, are persons of character and influence in their country; they can more at large speak on any matters that may be required of them.'

[Fig. 284] is another medal of which Mr. McLachlan says 'It is in the government collection at Ottawa, and came from the collection of Mr. I.F. Wood of New York. This is in pewter, and has Mohicrans in the field, either misspelled in the copy or the original. Above is Tantalkel. Judging from the medal given to Tantalkel of the Mohicans, we infer that his services could not have been valued so highly as those of the Onondaga warrior, for his reward is in the baser metal. How one of that tribe came to receive a medal is explained when we learn that 70 River Indians accompanied Johnson to Montreal.'

Another Mohican fared better. The Albany Argus, Sep. 27, 1875, described a silver medal found by Mr. Kelly of Ballston Spa N. Y. The obverse was as usual. On the reverse, as reported, was Mohicans in capitals, and Son Gose in script. Mr. Joseph E. Wescot purchased it of the finder, and sold it in 1902 to Mr. E. Hallenbeck, 749 Liberty st., Schenectady. Through the kindness of the latter, the writer is not only able to give an accurate figure, but to settle the spelling of a word in doubt. It is Mohigrans, the engraver having mistaken in his orders G for C, and R for K. It was easy to do this. The Indian's name is also Songose. This medal was found on the Kelly place, near the bank of the Mourning kill and the old Canadian trail. It is somewhat worn, but in good condition. It is remarkable that so many have the name of this nation.

In the work of C. Wyllys Betts, already mentioned, he speaks of another Mohican silver medal, on the reverse of which was Madoghk, with the nation's name engraved in the usual way. He also takes note of the doubtful spelling, now cleared up by the writer's examination of the Hallenbeck medal. The error was made in all.

The Mohicans became so closely linked with the Mohawks as to share their fortunes and that of the Johnson family. Some of them are mentioned in the raids in the Mohawk valley. The medals can hardly be referred to Burgoyne's luckless campaign, for each was engraved for a particular person, nor were the Onondagas yet in the field. None known bear the Oneida name, a significant fact, for they were on the American side. Nor were they among Butler's presents in the winter of 1777-78, who gave 'in particular 300 of Burgoyne's silver medals to their young warriors.' They are not all of silver.''

Lot # 47 Session 1
Hammer Price: $135,000.00

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