The massive Henry Clay gold medal highlighted in an earlier E-Sylum article sold for $346,000 at the recent Heritage Abraham
Lincoln auction. Here's an excerpt from the post-sale press release. -Editor
Unique 30-ounce Henry Clay gold medal quadruples $75,000 starting bid to sell for $346,000; Lincoln signed carte-de-visite sets
$175,000 world record Sept. 17 in Dallas
The 1852 medal honoring Secretary of State Henry Clay – struck by the U.S. Mint in nearly 30 ounces of solid California gold and
lovingly passed down through his family – sold for $346,000 to lead a record-setting special auction of memorabilia relating to Abraham
Lincoln Sept. 17 at Heritage Auctions. The event’s $2.4 million finale was a joint endeavor between Heritage Auctions and The Rail
Splitter, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the respected publication for enthusiasts of Abraham Lincoln and related memorabilia.
“This was indeed one of the most important Lincoln auctions of the last 50 years,” said Tom Slater, Director of Americana Auctions at
Heritage. “Never have I been so impressed and amazed at both the quality of the material and the passion of Lincoln collectors from all
over the globe.”
Top lot honors were claimed by the solid gold medal presented to Henry Clay, a leader Lincoln himself called “revered as a teacher and
leader.” Bidding for the 3-1/2 inch diameter medal opened at the minimum of $75,000 and quickly advanced to $346,000.
The history behind the medal is as captivating as the design itself: three-time presidential candidate, Secretary of State, Speaker of
the House, and titan of the U.S. Senate Henry Clay was by 1852 confined to his rooms in the National Hotel in Washington, slowly dying of
consumption. A group of prominent New York members of Clay’s Whig Party resolved to make a very special presentation to the statesman to
honor his nearly half century of public service, which they accomplished shortly before Clay’s death.
A perfectly signed carte-de-visite card image of a thoughtful Lincoln set a world record for an image of its type after seven bidders
pushed the auction price to $175,000. The 1862 card carried an inscription on the back by Presidential Secretary John Hay certifying its
The most intimate of keepsakes, relics and memorabilia relating to Lincoln’s personal life and that of those closest to him also brought
record-setting prices. One of the most highly anticipated lots was a love letter from Lincoln to his first fiancée, Mary Owens, which sold
for $137,500. Mary Todd Lincoln’s extraordinary jet black Silk Mourning Dress Ensemble opened at a modest $5,000 and ignited a bidding war
that ended at an astounding $100,000, Slater said. “Certainly this is a record for any piece of Mary Lincoln memorabilia ever sold at
auction,” he said.
To read the Clay medal lot description, see:
Massive U.S. Mint Medal of "Pure California Gold," Struck for Presentation to Henry Clay, Lincoln's own "ideal of a
great man,... (Total: 2 Items)
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
GOLD HENRY CLAY U.S. MINT MEDAL OFFERED
MORE ON THE GOLD HENRY CLAY U.S. MINT MEDAL
Since Alan Weinberg first tipped us off about this medal, I asked him about the sale. -Editor
There were four bidders, according to the Heritage website at the time of the auction, on this gold Clay medal (often available in
bronze and gutta percha). I've checked with others "in the know" and no one could identify the winning bidder.
However, in about 2008 in a Baltimore Norweb sale Stack's auctioned a similar 4" .900 fine gold US Mint-struck Zachary Taylor
Mexican War Congressional medal for approx $450,000 (I was present at that auction) also contained in an engraved round silver case. That
Taylor medal sold to a phone bidder handled by John Kraljevich at the auction. The buyer was later identified as a collector who owned no
other numismatic items and bought that $450K medal strictly due to its California gold content. This Clay medal had similar California
gold content, and I wonder if it went to the same bidder.
This gold Clay medal in a magnificent presentation silver "watch case" appeared about 30 years ago on the front cover of
Antiques magazine at which time the Clay descendant was identified in the article. At that time, I wrote the descendant offering
$35K and received no response.
Thanks. Both are stunning medals of high historical importance. It would be interesting if they ended up in the same hands. -Editor
THE BOOK BAZARRE
RENAISSANCE OF AMERICAN COINAGE
: Wizard Coin Supply is the official distributor for Roger Burdette's three volume
series that won NLG Book of the Year awards for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Contact us for dealer or distributor pricing at www.WizardCoinSupply.com
Wayne Homren, Editor
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