Len Augsburger published this article on the 1826 Archimedes medal by Christian Gobrecht in the December 2019 issue of The E-Gobrecht, an electronic publication of the
Liberty Seated Collectors Club. With permission, we're republishing it here. Thanks. -Editor
A Gobrecht Medal Finds a Good Home At the ANA convention I got to talking with Neil Mu- sante of the Medal Collectors Association about the 1826 Archimedes medal (Julian
AM-55) engraved by Christian Gobrecht for the New England Society for Promotion of Manufactures and Mechanic Arts. Neil thought it was quite rare and wished to add an example to
his collection. Seeing as I had two of them, and that it would be going to a "good home," I did the deal and the piece illustrated was sold. Later I realized that previous
appearances of this medal could be located rather easily using Newman Portal, and a brief search yielded some results. First off, how many were struck? Bob Wester, writing in the
NENA News (1986, no. 2) reported that 15 were awarded in 1826 and 20 in 1828. His source is unnoted but is probably the Society proceedings or minutes. After that we look
at the medals themselves. Typically the awardee's name was engraved by hand in the lower reverse, but a few of these are blank, suggesting that they were una- warded
remainders or that the recipient never had their name engraved in this space. The following awarded examples are known:
Mrs. Edward Brooks
Samuel F. Coolidge
Of the last, special mention is required. Gobrecht's grandson, who would have known, wrote in the early 20th century that the first presentation of this award was made to
Gobrecht himself, in acknowledgement of the artistry demonstrated in the execution of the dies. The whereabouts of this medal is unknown, and apart from this single mention over a
hundred years ago, there is no further information. It may still reside in the family. Needless to say, the appearance of this medal would draw substantial commercial interest.
There is also the possibility that Gobrecht's example was never engraved with his name, meaning that we would never be able to tell which of the blank pieces might have been
Further searching revealed 19 auction appearance between 1867 and 2005, meaning that an example appears at auction about once every seven years. A few fixed price listings were
also found, most notably a pleasing toned (unawarded) piece recently sold by John Kraljevich. Finally, examples were located in the American Numismatic Society and the
Massachusetts Historical Society, both unawarded. Beyond the six named pieces listed above, there are perhaps another half dozen unawarded pieces out there, suggesting a
population of 12 silver pieces.
In addition, there are a few related oddball items. Woodward's sale of the Mickley collection 1867) offered plaster impressions of both the obverse and reverse dies. These
have not reappeared on the market. The Presidential Coin and Antique sale of 1/16/1987 presented a white metal example, said to be on a cast planchet. This was likely a test
impression prior to striking the silver pieces. Finally, the Gobrecht catalog prepared by his grandson, c. 1900, mentioned a copper example in the stock of S.H. and H. Chapman,
Philadelphia dealers. The copper piece has not been mentioned since, and is likely worth more than most of the silver examples.
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Wayne Homren, Editor
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