1809 Silver James Madison Indian Peace Medal

Value (2015) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Watch  

GUEST:
This is a medallion that was found on my great-grandfather's farm, probably before the 1900s. The man who worked for my great-grandfather was plowing the field and he saw something that was shiny in the field, and so he picked it up, and as you can see there, the plow hit the coin or the medallion. My great-grandfather gave him three hogs for the coin. And so years later, when my great-grandfather and his wife wanted to retire into Blair, Nebraska, he decided that maybe it'd be a good idea to check this out, have a lawyer look into it in Omaha. The Omaha World Herald got a hold of that and they wrote an article about that in 1934, and it was then passed down to my grandfather, and then to my father, and then to me.

APPRAISER:
I can tell you it is an authentic 1809 James Madison Indian peace medal, and it's made of solid silver.

GUEST:
Oh, great.

APPRAISER:
These were minted at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and designed by a German immigrant named John Reich, who was the assistant engraver of the U.S. Mint. He also designed a lot of very famous coins throughout the earlier part of the 19th century. These were minted by the U.S. Mint and given out to representatives of the U.S. government to give to Indian chiefs throughout the Missouri and Mississippi River valleys and Upper Midwest.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Now, they were minted in three sizes: a two-inch, a two-and-a- half-inch, and a three-inch.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
And they were given out in importance order: the three-inch to the most important Indian chiefs, the two-and-a-half-inch—which you have here-- to slightly lesser chiefs, and then the two-inch to maybe even lesser…

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
…Important chiefs than that.

GUEST:
Great.

APPRAISER:
What you have here on the front is the bust of President Madison, and it says, "James Madison, President of the United States." And it's dated A.D. 1809. Here on the backside of the medal we have "Peace and friendship," and it shows a U.S. Army Cavalry-cuffed hand shaking a bare-wristed hand so presumably that of an American Indian.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And above that is the crossed tomahawk and peace pipe. And you'll also see that it does have a suspension loop, and that is very common as they were not issued that way, but Indians wanted to wear them.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
So they were often pierced for suspension.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
These were perceived as very important by American Indians, and often traded amongst themselves and sought after even within their communities.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
So the question: is it real? The answer is yes.

GUEST:
I'm so excited.

APPRAISER:
The question: what's the value? If this were to come up at auction, I would expect it to sell for between $20,000 and $30,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Wow. (laughs) For three hogs, that's a lot of money.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Jason Preston Art Advisory & Appraisals
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2015)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Event
Omaha, NE (June 27, 2015)
Form
Medal
Material
Silver

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