This week's Featured Web page is on the Washington Before Boston Medal, from the Coin and Currency Collections in the Department of Special Collections,
University of Notre Dame Libraries.
On March 25, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized a medal to commemorate this event. Up through 1787 Congress authorized ten additional medals commemorating war heroes, however no medals were actually produced until 1790. In that year the federal Congress commissioned the Paris mint to produce these long overdue items. The Washington Before Boston medal was considered the most important and was the largest in the series, which is now referred to as the Comitia Americana (or American Congress) medal series. A gold example was presented to Washington along with a collection of eleven silver medals (nine of which were from the eleven medals authorized by congress); the gold example is now in the Boston Public Library while Washington's collection of eleven silver medals now resides in the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Since the first striking in 1790 the Paris mint has reissued these American Congress medals at various times in gold, silver, copper and bronze examples. The dating of examples can often be determined by the small symbol stamped on the edge of the medal: an antique lamp, 1832-1841; an anchor with the letter C, 1841-1842; a galley prow, 1842-1845; a pointing hand 1845-1860; a bee, 1860-1879 and a cornucopia 1880-present. In the 1860's hubs (i.e., punches for the images and legends) were made from the Paris dies and sent to Philadelphia were they were used to produce new dies for American struck examples.