A Project of the Robert H. Gore, Jr. Numismatic Endowment
University of Notre Dame, Department of Special Collections
by Louis Jordan

Images Coordinated by
James C. Spilman and the Colonial Newsletter Foundation

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FAQ: Indian Peace Medals

Indian Peace Medals were produced for the British kings during the colonial period and later by the U.S. mint for each president (at least through the civil war era). They were originally minted to be given to indian tribes as a sign of friendship. As they were also collected by numismatists they continued to be minted for the coin market long after there was no need for distribution to indians. Since the mint continued to strike copies the history of these medals is rather complicated. As late as 1900 one could purchase restrikes of Indian peace medals going back to Washington. The restrikes are much less valuable than the originals (original Washington Peace medals ware valued at $2,000 or more depending on condition while later restrikes are only about $25 when they are in choice mint condition, still in their original box).

A quick way to determine if you have an early coin is by its size. Early restrikes are about 100mm in diameter while later ones are 76mm. By the way, later restrikes are made of a yellow bronze alloy. The early examples I know about were made of bronze, silver or white metal.

For more information see the following listing and rarety guide:

R. W. Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, 1977.

For historical information see:

Francis Paul Prucha, Indian Peace Medals in American History, 1971.

John W. Adams, The Indian Peace Medals of George III, Crestline, 1999.