Last week Tom Kays shared with us a reference to "gilded bronze medal about the size of an eagle but thick as two large cents. The medal boasts a handsome portrait on one side and on the reverse the following inscription: Presented to Herr Alexander as a token of esteem by his friends. New York. 1847. The reference (published in a 1905 book) stated that " On leaving New York in 1847 he was presented with a heavy gold medal..."
While the writer stated that the medal was struck at the U.S. Mint, researcher R.W. Julian thought not. Our readers chime in this week with references relating to bronze and gold examples. -Editor
David Schenkman writes:
Regarding the Herr Alexander piece, it is a well-known nineteenth century token, and not especially rare. It is listed in Rulau's Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 as NY42.
Katie Jaeger writes:
This item was engraved and struck by Charles Cushing Wright in New York City. It is listed in Rulau's Standard Catalog of U.S. Tokens (4th Edition, p. 329). It comes in gilt brass on thick and thin planchets, and copper at 30mm diameter. Rulau states "It is one of the most desirable of all New York tokens of the pre-Civil War era."
To my mind, any output of C.C. Wright is desirable, and he did do a lot of work for the U.S. Mint, so this is probably why the original writer jumped to that conclusion. Diesinkers of the day capitalized on the popularity of entertainers such as Jenny Lind or Tom Thumb by striking medalets to honor them. These were often hawked on the street outside the performances, in the same way rock stars sell T-shirts and bumper stickers today.
I speculate that Wright may have made a gold specimen as a gift to Heim, financed by "his friends in New York," and then struck the brass and copper versions for sale to the public. The gilt brass specimen shown in color on p.149 of my book is from the ANS collection.
Katie's book is of course, A Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals, published last year by Whitman Publications. -Editor
David Schenkman adds:
I looked up the Herr Alexander token in Magician Tokens, which was written by F. William Kuethe, Jr. and published in 1978 as a TAMS Journal supplement. Bill lists the token as MT007 in various metals, including gold (which he rates R-10). There is nothing to indicate whether he actually saw a gold Herr Alexander medal…..
Wayne Homren, Editor
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