(1783) Libertas Americana Silver Medal. Betts-615. NGC graded AU-53. 47.6 mm, 791 gr. Less than two dozen known in all grades This classic post-Revolution medal is universally revered as the most beautiful of the medals issued to commemorate peace between the American Colonies and Great Britain. The dies were engraved in Paris in 1782 by renowned medallist Augustin Dupre. Original medals were struck in the Paris Mint in 1783. The design is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who at that time was United States commissioner to France. The obverse features a left-facing head of Liberty with a liberty cap and pole behind. The inscription LIBERTAS. AMERICANA. is above, while the date 4 JULI. 1776. is in exergue below the portrait. The reverse is highly symbolic and shows the infant Hercules (meant to portray America) strangling two serpents (the British armies at Saratoga and Yorktown). Minerva, depicting France with three fleur-de-lis on her shield, keeps the British lion at bay.
Franklin presented two gold impressions of the Libertas Americana medal to the king and queen of France in honor of the debt that the United States owed France in its struggle for independence from Great Britain. Both of those pieces have since been lost.
Approximately 25 silver impressions remain, however, most of which were originally gifted to the king's ministers. The copper pieces are most common with perhaps as many as 125 distinct examples known.
In addition to its beauty, the Libertas Americana medal is renowned for the endurance of its design. Not only has the Paris Mint continued to issue restrikes, but the United States Mint used the Liberty Cap motif on the Half Cent from 1793-1797 and the Large Cent from 1793-1796.
One of the rare silver impressions, this original specimen displays light gray patina around and within the devices that lightens to an otherwise silver-gray sheen in the fields. The overall detail remains very strong, and there is only a bit of light friction on the highest points that is perhaps most noticeable at Liberty's hair. Small contact marks are here and there seen on both sides. Most are inconspicuous. None are out of context for the AU53 grade. Highly desirable both from the perspective of historical meaning and eye appeal, this medal would serve as a focus in any advanced Colonials collection.
Historic note: Few students who have passed through the American public education system are taught that when King George III signed the "Peace Treaty" of Paris signifying the end of hostilities with the Colonies, he actually put pen and ink to THIRTEEN SEPARATE TREATIES, one for each of the breakaway colonies, now States in their own right. There was as yet no United States, nor a unified government capable of signing such a treaty. That would come later with the ratification of the federal Constitution in 1789. It is this heritage of States Rights (meaning the individual 50 states as independent entities) that regularly derails the aims of the central government in Washington, D.C. to this day; for example, the failure of the Real ID Act propagated by the George W. Bush administration in 2005, but negated by the States.
Estimated Value $40,000 - 50,000.
The Estate of Winthrop A. Haviland, Jr.