Better late than never - because of the press of the holidays I didn't get a chance to comment on the January 12th Stack's sale of the John W. Adams Collection of Medallic Distinctions Awarded to North American First Peoples. I understand there will be a hardbound version of the catalogue. I called and placed my order.
The 71-lot sale is chockablock with interesting material - it's understandable how one could get pulled in to the important and fascinating history behind many of these medals. Below are images of lot 5059, the 1780 State of Virginia Happy While United Medal.
The final several lots consisted of "Documentary Distinctions and Official Correspondence" including George Croghan's account of his capture by a war party of Kecopoes and Musquetons. Ouiatonon, July 13, 1765 - a letter addressed to Alexander McKee, an agent at Fort Pitt.
I was astounded at the price realized - $2,645, which seems an absolute steal for such an historically important letter from the pre-revolutionary frontier. While I wouldn't expect a "mere" letter to bring the six-figure sums that some of the medals did, considering that the document is unique I wouldn't have been surprised to see if bring five figures. Hopefully it and the other auctioned documents found a good home with a researcher who will one day publish a new work on the subject.
John Adams writes:
The reason for selling the collection was, very simply, I was doing nothing with it. Indian Peace Medals have long been a passion of mine, with the result that I assembled a considerable storehouse of information on the subject. I had intended to use these files to publish on a variety of topics over and beyond the book/articles that I have already done. To my dismay, the files were gathering dust whilst I researched and wrote on other topics. Having once been at the top of my list, they had slipped way down into the pack.
Thus, it was time for me to "get off the pot" and let others have a chance to own and research these medals. I am absolutely thrilled to report that that is exactly what happened. At least two of the purchasers at my sale - and hopefully, there are more - have mounted major efforts. I believe that my files have been of some help to these two and I would offer the same help to any of your readers that have a serious interest .
Indian Peace Medals are a fertile field for an abundance of work yet to be done. McLachlan, Morin, Belden, Prucha et al may have said the first words, but there is much more of the story to be told.
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