This week I re-read the adventures of Alan Weinberg obtaining the James K Polk Indian Peace medal. While thinking about it, I recalled a post by Harvey Stack a few weeks ago, where he told about Lammot Dupont when he was buying
an early American silver coin was not interested in a BU piece, but rather a lightly circulated one that had been handled by people, perhaps even some of our nation's founders.
The described Polk medal is a beautiful proof, but surely has never been on an Indian reservation. So, which would be more desirable - that piece, or an identical one, say, fine with some nicks and scratches and a small hole that was worn by a real Indian chief? (Living history.)
In my library I have books that picture Indian chiefs proudly wearing their medals, the oldest being Red Jacket wearing a large engraved medal of Washington. I guess it would depend on collector himself. Probably the condition fans would outnumber the history fans.
Great question! I know I fall more into the History camp myself, preferring for instance, issued and circulated obsolete currency to pristine proofs or unsigned remainders. But desirability is in the eye of the beholder. What do readers think?