Last week Alan Weinberg inquired about the present whereabouts of the General Anthony Wayne Comitia Americana medal in gold. He recalled, "I attended that auction and remember then-Sotheby's employee Mike Hodder standing up front by the dais, his hands crossed in front of him."
Mike Hodder writes:
"I think Alan Weinberg must have confused me with my friend David Tripp
when he recollected a 1970's Sotheby's sale of a gold Comitia Americana
medal. In the late 70's I was in the PhD program at U.C. Berkeley.
Sotheby's hired me to catalogue coins in 1980. I sold a lot of neat
stuff at Sotheby's, including territorial gold and the Farnell
Collection of 18th C. English Merchant's Tokens. I don't recall a gold
Wayne medal but having become an old geezer I may misremember."
David Tripp writes:
"The gold Anthony Wayne medal was sold at Sotheby Parke Bernet (as it was then) June 15, 1978, lot 519.
"The nervous soul standing next to the auctioneer was me (age 26), not Mike (who didn't start until about 1980).
"Estimated at $10-15,000 it brought $51,000 (no buyer's premium those days). The underbidder was John Ford (in the front row) telegraphing his bids to Herb Melnick standing at the room's door.
"The purchaser was the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution. They loaned it to the Philadelphia Mint where it has been on display for decades, along, I believe, with Wayne's sword. In 2010 they also purchased (at Sotheby's NY as part of the James Copley collection) Washington's letter of transmittal of the medal….it brought almost twice as much as the medal. I believe it too is on display at the Mint.
"Years ago, for Mike Hodder and Larry Stack, I wrote a Reminiscence of JJF for part XX of his sale (2007). In there I recounted the tale."
I don't know when or for how long it was loaned to the Mint, but I found these July 16, 2021 Facebook posts from the Museum of the American Revolution describing a display of the medal alongside its original letter of transmission signed by none other than George Washington.
"In honor of his successful assault at Stony Point, the Continental Congress awarded Anthony Wayne a gold medal, newly displayed at the Museum and on loan from Pennsylvania Society Sons of the Revolution. It shows America, represented as a Native American woman, presenting a victory laurel to him."
It took 11 years for Wayne's Stony Point medal to be delivered to him. The Continental Congress ordered the medal in 1779, but it was not until 1790 that George Washington was able to present it. Washington wrote to Wayne that the medal showed "the high sense which your Country entertains of your services on that occasion."
To read the complete post, see:
On this day in 1779, the Battle of Stony Point took place in New York, with a charge on the British led by Anthony Wayne.
Len Augsburger writes:
"Tony Lopez reported in the October/November 2009 MCA Advisory:
The original gold medal presented to Wayne by Washington was consigned by the Wayne family in 1978 to Sotheby Parke Bernet, where it was hammered for $52,500 to the Pennsylvania Sons of the Revolution. (John J. Ford Jr. was the under bidder.) It is currently on display at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
"Coin World reported the sale on July 5, 1978, also noting the medal was purchased by the Philadelphia Sons of the Revolution, with a hammer price of $51,000. Robert Schwarz acted as agent and noted that he cut into his commission to acquire the medal, which may explain the discrepancy with the price reported by Tony Lopez. The underbidder was Herbert Melnick,
bidding for a private collector, apparently John J. Ford. Jr.
"The consignor was Anthony Wayne Ridgway, a descendant of Wayne. Ridgway commented
I've had to keep it all these years in a vault three levels underground under a bank. It gave me no pleasure or joy; it's not the sort of thing I can keep around the house and exhibit. I'm not a coin person, and my friends aren't coin or medal people, so you can't leave it sitting around on a desk; and I needed the money.
"The sale was held June 15, 1978 and took place at the Sotheby Parke Bernet office in New York."
Regarding the letter, David adds:
"It brought $98,500 (including the premium).
The $51,000 for the medal, was, at the time, a world record for a medal."
David also passed along these catalog images and the below link to the sale of the Washington letter. Thanks.
"You will receive with this, a Medal struck by order of the late Congress in commemoration of your much approved conduct in the Assault of Stoney Point—and presented to you as a mark of the high sense which your Country entertains of your services on that occasion.
"This Medal was put into my hands by Mr. Jefferson; and it is with singular pleasure that I now transmit it to you. In the postscript, Washington acknowledges "the receipt of your letter of the 1st February, which reached my hands a few days since."
Anthony Wayne's capture of the British garrison at Stony Point, New York, was one of the pivotal actions of the American Revolution. In late May 1779, British forces under General Henry Clinton began moving up the Hudson, hoping to draw George Washington into battle and possibly even to reach West Point, the "key to the American continent."
To read the complete lot description, see:
Washington, George, as First President
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
The General Anthony Wayne Gold Medal
Wayne Homren, Editor
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