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

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James C. Spilman and the Colonial Newsletter Foundation

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FAQ: Washington 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). Original Washington Indian Peace Medals are either (1) engraved ovals depicting Washington and an Indian on the front and the American eagle on the reverse or they are (2) round and depict a farm scene on the obverse (with USA in exergue) and on the reverse a wreath with SECOND PREDIDENCY OF GEO: WASHINGTON MDCCXCVI. Several later strikes show the bust of Washington on the obverse and on the reverse of the medal is a variety of the motto PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP with a crossed peace pipe and hatchet above two clasped hands shaking as a sign of greeting and friendship.

Peace medals were originally minted to be given to indian tribes as a sign of friendship. As they were also collected by numismatists the medals 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 for past presidents, 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 are valued at $2,000 - $5000 depending on variety and condition. The gold and silver oval medals are in the $100,000 range, but in 1902 the Buffalo Historical Society issued replicas in brass with a silver wash which retail for about $175 in extremely fine examples (the items state they are FAC-SIMILE at the top of the obverse). The 19th century strikes are more common, for example the Nebraska Treaty Medal (Baker 173M) is valued in the $500 range for fine examples and the 1843 pewter variety (Baker 173R) in the $250 range for a very fine example. Twentieth century strikes (made from 1903-the 1970's) are only about $25 when they are in choice mint condition, still in their original box).

For more information on Washington Peace medals check - Russell Rulau and George Fuld, Medallic Portraits of Washington, 2nd ed. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1999. Chapter 9 on pp. 77-91. Most individuals will probably have Baker 174LA (listed on p. 81) valued at $25.00 in uncirculated condition.

For information on Indian Peace Medals before and after Washingtin 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.

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