Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the melting pot - how rarities end up there, and what is being lost.
The final chapter has been written for the gold Tiffany Life Saving Medal tuned in for scrap at the Liverpool England jewelry firm W.J. Edwards but was saved from the melting pot. It was mentioned two weeks back in The E-Sylum (vol 12, no 47, art 17).
The medal sold November 30 for £2,400 ($3,902) at the Fellows & Son London auction firm. It received a hammer price of £2,883 plus a buyer's fee of 20.13%.
How it got from the Newark, New Jersey, factory of Tiffany & Co where it was struck in 1911 to Liverpool 98 years later is an itinerary we may never learn. But it does recall other instances of rare items saved from the melting pot once turned in for scrap.
In the early eighties during great silver melt, initiated by the Hunt Brothers attempt to corner the world's silver supply, a lot of the metal was sold to metal dealers in and around the Diamond District in Midtown Manhattan. The story has been told that the owners of these firms were kept busy examining what was redeemed each day. They would sort through the precious metal flotsam and retrieve any item with a potential value greater than the inflated metal content.
There is a concept here of human nature to strive for the greatest profit. But that situation has a term, firm hand. The seller did not have a firm hand, he preferred the immediate cash to holding it for any greater profit later on. The owner of precious metal firm had a firm hand in that he could retain the item for perhaps an undetermined time. The owner had to make quick decisions, "Would this ever be worth more than the inflated price he paid for the item today?" Too bad tons of precious metal items were destroyed forever.
While this Tiffany gold medal was saved, many gold medals have been melted over the years, those that were not in firm hands. The most sorrowful story is that of Phoebe Ann Mosey, "Annie Oakley," who as a sharpshooter received dozens of gold medals in shooting competitions. Instead of selling her medals outright -- wouldn't gun collectors covet owing just one of those! -- she had all her gold medals melted. She gave the money to the poor, but destroyed a heritage of her achievements.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
1911 GOLD TIFFANY LIFE SAVING MEDAL OFFERED
Wayne Homren, Editor
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