Joel J. Orosz submitted the following request for information regarding a set of medals once in the hands of President James Madison and displayed in his residence, Montpelier, in the 1830s. -EditorLance Humphries, who co-authored with me two articles on Robert Gilmor, Jr. several years ago for The Numismatist, is now working for Montpelier, James Madison's residence in Orange, Virginia. He is part of an extensive effort to restore Montpelier to its Madison-era appearance. Several visitors to Montpelier during the 1830s described a collection of medals that resided in the Drawing Room, perhaps similar to the seven-medal set, mostly Comitia Americana medals, that George William Erving sent to Thomas Jefferson at Monticello in 1823.
Lance has found a Google Books citation to The Numismatist that reads "The exhibits were as follows: By Mr. Blake: A case of seven bronze medals presented to President James Madison by George W. Erving..." The Google Books citation reads: 1894, p. 143. This is incorrect--it reflects the date of the first volume of The Numismatist that Google scanned, not the actual date of the issues of The Numismatist in which the content occurred.
"Mr. Blake," of course, is George H. Blake, the renowned paper money authority, who was an active collector from the late 1890s until his death in early 1956. The snippet from Google Books is probably a report in The Numismatist about a monthly meeting of the New York Numismatic Club. Can any readers of The E-Sylum help to pinpoint the date of the report in The Numismatist; how the Madison medal set left the Madison family; from what source Blake may have acquired the set; and what my have happened to the set post-Blake? (George H. Blake is not listed as a consignor to any American numismatic auction sale by Martin Gengerke).
No monetary award involved, but I suspect that someone providing great information could wangle a behind-the-scenes tour at Montpelier from Lance!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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