The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 6, February 7, 2021, Article 29


Fred Holabird submitted this research on the 1862 Lincoln silver Peace Medal in his upcoming sale. Thanks! -Editor

Lincoln Peace medal

1862 Lincoln silver Peace Medal. 62.5 mm. About Uncirculated, with clean fields retaining mint luster, and only slight wear to the high points of Lincoln's har. Virtually all of the hairlines are showing, something not seen on most of the other similar medals that have appeared at auction.

This important silver peace medal is the smaller of two sizes made by the US Mint. Dated 1862, it is the only Presidential peace medal issued in a year other than the inauguration date of the president. This medal is x-Stacks c1993, lot 1518 and is part of a known census published of twenty two 1862 Lincoln medals, of which at least 6 are in institutional homes. Two hundred of the 1862 Lincoln medals were made at the Philadelphia Mint, with 100 of each size. Medals were given to tribal Chiefs, or sometimes to Indians involved in friendly treaties by the various regional superintendencies.

The obverse of the medal is signed "S. Ellis. DEL. SC.", while the reverse is "J. Willson. DEL. & SC." "DEL" is an abbreviation for the Latin delineavit ("he drew it"), and "SC" is an abbreviation for Sculpsit ("he carved/sculpted it" [engraved]). Salathiel Ellis had the contract for the Lincoln medals. $1250 was allotted for the silver, and Ellis agreed to make the medals for $3,250. Only silver medals were made. Approval from Congress did not come until July, 1862. The Mint was paid in advance for the medals. It appears the first of the medals, 5 large pieces, were delivered to Pawnee Indian agent B. F. Lushbaugh. Interestingly, only eight of those original medals were struck, because the reverse die broke on the eighth medal. Willson had died during the Congressional approval process, so his name only appears on the first eight of the large medals, and was removed for the remainder of the run after the new die(s) were made. In March, 1863, the remainder of the large medals were struck, some delivered to Indians visiting Washington. All of the silver medals carry Willson's name. This was the final medal of Ellis' career, and the task was passed on to Anthony Paquet of pattern US $20 gold coin and numerous Mint medals fame.

Some of the first of the Lincoln medals were given to Iowa (Ioway) and Sac and Fox tribe members at the request of Indian Agent John Burbank in 1862.

Awarding of the medals to Indians was an uncertain affair. While Congress explicitly wrote that the medals were for "distribution of medals among the chiefs of the Indian tribes" , they were sometimes given to "friendly Indians." At one time, a delegation of Osage Indians visiting Washington received canes, a number of which are still in existence."

Peace medals were a trophy of unequalled excellence to Indians. The very nature of how highly prized they were is easily seen on the many original period sketches of Native Americans through time including Catlin. Schoolcraft mentions them as well. "For years it has been the custom for the President, …, to present Indians with silver medals. The tokens are highly valued by amicable tribes," as written in the Chicago Tribune in 1865. Every great Indian Chief had one or more peace medals, especially the great Black Kettle, the most powerful Indian Chief of the mid-19 th century, and unarguably the most influential.

A Treaty among the Blackfeet and other tribes in October 1855 resulted in the presentation of several Peace Medals to tribal Chiefs. "…medals were presented to the Chiefs, with speeches by the Commissioner, exhorting them to keep their promises to their Great Father, and control their young braves. These medals were deeply cherished by the Indians. Eighty-five years after the treaty, one of the medals was discovered in the hands of an aged Indian who lived in utter destitution but who refused to part with the medal at any price. It was the most cherished of the family heirlooms."

This 1862 Lincoln Peace Medal has a wonderful appearance megascopicly. Under a microscope, however, can be seen a faint and fine hand scratched "Osage Indian" just above Lincoln's head to the right. A prior cataloger called this "graffiti."

Sometimes what one numismatist sees as "graffiti", another sees as provenance. Such is the case with a 1792 half-disme, in which "graffiti" has been analyzed in detail using the latest scientific equipment. This results of this astonishing study may prove to be an important discovery, showing that not all scratches are "graffiti." In the case of this 1862 Lincoln medal, the "graffiti" is an absolute link to, and proof of provenance, which renders the medal far more important than one of the 100 medals made, with most (nearly all) lacking any provenance whatsoever.

The link to Osage Indians tells us that only one treaty was (attempted) signed during Lincoln's presidency. An Indian agent negotiated a treaty between the Government and the Osage in Kansas that was complicated, but sold a part of the Osage land to the US, with the monies going into a trust for the Osage, and other considerations, including stoppage of attacks to settlers and emigrants. That treaty was signed August 29, 1863. But Congress put on the brakes, and politics took over, stone-walling the formal completion of the treaty, and effectively "pigeon-holing" the treaty indefinitely. It was not the last time this proposed treaty would meet with resistance.

For the next two years, Col. Ellijah Sells, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Southern Superintendency, and colleagues tried to refine the proposed treaty, and in so doing, appear to have worked with the Osage and Government officials to assure all that they would end up with a treaty that was not a "take all" affair, which had been so typical of many of the Indian treaties of the early nineteenth century.

The treaty with the Osage was exceptionally important. During the Civil War, the Osage and other tribes in Kansas saw their lands overrun by emigrants and settlers. It was out of control, and to make matters worse, Kansas was right in between the Union forces and Confederacy. While most Osage "sided" with the Union, there were a few "outcasts" siding with the Confederacy, probably the result of force and will of survival. The Confederate run at Kansas ended in a bloody battle with Quantrill's raiders, who suffered a massive defeat. A treaty was badly needed to understand and underscore who owned what, and where things were going to go in the near future. During the 1860s, there were three wars: the Civil War, and the war between tribes and the Union settlers, and the war between the tribes and the Confederates. It needed fixing.

In a treaty between the Osage and the US in 1825, the Osage had given up a lot of their ancestral ground, mostly in Kansas. The tribe felt the treaty was unjust and had no interest in a new treaty unless certain goals were accomplished. The proposed treaty of 1863 addressed those "problems", but politics intervened. The fix came on September 29, 1865 with a new treaty, the only treaty between the Osage and the US Government during the Lincoln presidency. While the actual signing of the treaty came after Lincoln was killed, the work was done under the Lincoln presidency.

The Treaty of Sept. 29, 1865 became known as the Canville Treaty of 1865. It was signed at a small trading post run by A. B. Canville, who made sure he was paid through the treaty for past work and supplies. The treaty was signed by D. N. Cooley, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Elijah Sells, and the chiefs of the Great and Little Osage tribes. The Chief of the Little Osages was Me-tso-shin-ca (Little Bear); White Hair, Principal Chief Osage Nation; Chief Big Hill band Ta-wah-she-he; Chief Clermont band, Clermont. Each chief had a successor present (Little Chief), and more than fifty witnesses and members of various tribes were present and signed as witnesses. An Osage interpreter was present as was G.C. Snow, the Neosho Indian agent.

The treaty was monumental. In it, the Osage sold the US land for $900,000 to be put into a Trust for the Osage, a huge amount at the time, and possibly the largest sale of Indian lands to date. It further allowed for the future sale of two million acres to be placed into that Trust. Most of the newspaper articles on the treaty were confusing, probably poorly understood by whites. The Osage quickly used part of this money to buy more land. They bought 1.57 million acres from the Cherokee Nation in 1866 which became the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma Territory, which became autonomous in 1906. At least one source claimed the Osage were the wealthiest of all American Indian tribes.

Once the Treaty was signed, and formally approved by Congress, the "deal" was done. But… S.J. Crawford, the Kansas Governor disputed the Treaty, claiming it was invalid, and that the Treaty of 1825 did not give the Osage all the land that was part of the 1865 Treaty. The US Land Commissioner J. M. Edmunds argued that the Treaty was correct in all respects.

This Peace Medal was handed out to one of the four Osage Chiefs. While it was awarded during Andrew Johnson's presidency, the Johnson medals designed by Paquet were not made and issued until December 23, 1865.

Summary and Conclusion
This silver 1862 Lincoln Peace medal with "Osage Indian" inscribed lightly on the obverse belonged to one of the chiefs of the Osage tribe who signed the September 29, 1865 Canville Treaty in Kansas. There was no other treaty among the Osage during Lincoln's presidency, and no other event discovered in research that would warrant the awarding of a Lincoln Peace Medal to an Osage member. As such, it was owned and cherished by one of four great Osage chiefs, all named above. It may be the single remaining artifact of that Peace Treaty, and is one of a very few such medals left in existence.

For readability I've removed footnotes, but these are preserved in the lot description. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
3595a Lincoln Silver Peace Medal, Julian 39, Prucha 51, Belden 54. Osage Indian Award [131549] (

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