The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 4, January 28, 2024, Article 25


It's pretty safe to say all numismatists dream of making that flea market find of a lifetime. How about a gold Nobel Prize medal on eBay? Also pretty safe to assume it's probably fake. Here's a listing I came across this week. -Editor

  reproduction gold Nobel Prize Medal obverse reproduction gold Nobel Prize Medal reverse

The Nobel Prize Medal in Physiology or Medicine RARE USA Swedish With Case
good gift for a young doctor

Weight : 1Oz, Size : 40mm, Base Material : Bronze.Gold Content : Heavily Gold Layered.Thickness : 3mm.The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962 was awarded jointly to Francis Harry Compton Crick, James Dewey Watson and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material."

This is a Gold Coin Commemorating the Nobel Prize Medal Awarded to their Discovery. The 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine awarded to Dr. Francis Harry Compton Crick, along with Drs. James Dewey Watson and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins, for …their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material, or what would become known as DNA, sold on April 11, 2013, for $2.27+ million (including Buyer's Premium) as the highlight of Heritage Auctions' Historical Manuscripts Signature Auction at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion. The discovery of the structure of DNA launched a scientific revolution and forever changed human understanding of life, said Sandra Palomino, Director of Historical Manuscripts for Heritage Auctions. Crick's initials are engraved on the reverse of the medal, along with the year of the prize, 1962, presented in Roman numerals: F. H. C. Crick/MCMLXII.

So it's a "Gold Coin Commemorating the Nobel Prize Medal" and a "good gift for a young doctor." And it's bronze but "Heavily Gold Layered". It's not overpriced at $29 + shipping, and probably a fun toy to play with.

Back in March 2013 John Sallay notified us of the upcoming Heritage sale of the original Francis Crick gold Nobel Prize medal. Here are the images for comparison. -Editor

  Crick Nobel medal obverse Crick Nobel medal reverse

The difference in quality is like night and day - the eBay piece is laughable in comparison. But there are better gilt bronze examples. -Editor

John added:

"I have a gilt bronze version of this same Nobel Prize Medal in Physiology or Medicine of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, issued to one of the 1977 winners, Roslyn Yallow. I understand that these gilt medals were made available to the winners for display purposes, so they did not have to have their actual gold medals out on display or otherwise just lying around. Even those are pretty scarce items."

John kindly sent images of his gilt bronze medal. Thank you! -Editor

  gilt bronze Nobel Prize medal Yalow 1977 obverse gilt bronze Nobel Prize medal Yalow 1977 reverse
Gilt bronze Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, to Rosalyn Sussman Yalow 1977

The eBay item is not one of the originally-issued gilt versions, which were struck from the same dies before being gilt. Now one of those would be a respectable eBay find. -Editor

  gilt bronze Nobel Prize medal Klug 1982 obverse gilt bronze Nobel Prize medal Klug 1982 reverse
Gilt bronze Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to A. Klug 1982

John writes:

gilt bronze Nobel Prize medal Klug 1982 edge "Speaking of respectable eBay finds, here are photos of a gilt bronze Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to Aaron Klug 1982 that I purchased on eBay in September. I am embarrassed to say what I paid, but it was indeed a great find at a great price. Both of these medals are stamped on the edge, MV BRONS and the date, 1977 or 1982. The MV stands for AB Myntverket, which produces the Swedish national coins and the Nobel Prize medals, and BRONS is Swedish for bronze, of course.

Nobel laureates are allowed to order up to 3-5 examples (sources vary as to the exact number, which may have varied over the years) of these gilt bronze replicas of their original medal for family members and for display purposes at the organizations and/or the laureates' universities. These particular examples weigh 106 grams and 117 grams, respectively, versus the original gold medals at an average of about 175 grams. All are 66 mm in diameter, as they are made from the same dies in the same Swedish mint facilities. While the gilt bronze pieces should theoretically be more widely available than the gold originals, as a practical matter, the gold original medals seem to show up on the market more often. Nevertheless, while gold examples have been bringing in the seven figure price range depending on the fame and importance of the laureate's work, the gilt bronze medals (and the few bronze specimens made for collectors in 1902) tend to be four figure items when they show up at auction, so in that sense they are indeed more collectable.

Plenty of information about the Nobel Prize and the medals is available online, most notably on the Nobel Prize organization's website, and a comprehensive Wikipedia article, Michael Wehner made an excellent presentation on The Nobel Prize and other medals of Erik Lindberg to the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society in October 2022, which is available on YouTube at: Also, in 2001 The Royal Coin Cabinet, Stockholm, published a book on Nobel Medals, The Royal Coin Cabinet, by Lars O. Lagerqvist, though I believe this book is out of print and tough to find."

In his talk, Michael Wehner mentions having met Nobel prize winners. Here are the closest I've gotten. In 1980 my first job out of college was at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey. One time I attended a Halloween costume party and was later told, "the guy in the mummy costume? - that was Wilson of Penzias and Wilson", famed for their measurement of cosmic background radiation, evidence of the "Big Bang" that formed our universe. They had received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1978. Later I met artificial intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon when I attended a lecture of his at Carnegie-Mellon University. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1978 as well.

By the way, I see a common thread in this issue - what do fake bank bags, counterfeit coins and "commemorative" gold Nobel prize medals have in common? - the internet. Specifically, internet search trolls. These people and companies (happily aided and abetted by Google) watch for popular and real-time trending search terms and then go off and create products and web pages that match those terms. This is why and how the web gets clouded up with crapola.

Last year I searched for a locksmith. It took me several minutes of scrolling down through two and a half pages of search results before I found the website of an actual, real locksmith near me. All the other listings and websites were fakes - Potemkin village mockups that LOOKED like actual locksmiths, but weren't - they were trying to get me to enter my contact information, which they would turn around and sell to real locksmiths for a quick profit and no actual work.

These bottom-feeders even create fake obituaries for people whose corpses aren't cold yet. I've run into these while trying to find information on recently deceased numismatists - some rando in India has a YouTube video where he's reading a death notice published somewhere else. Crawl back where you came from, creeps.

It's an information war, people - and everyone interested in real things from the real world needs to fight back real hard, using weapons that beat the trolls at their own game. I know I'm tilting at windmills here, but please don't bring a knife to a gunfight - you need to fight these people where they are; just choose your battles carefully. I wouldn't die on the hill of commemorative Nobel medals, but high-quality reproductions of rare numismatic items are worth containing. -Editor

To read a New York Times article about obituary pirates, see:
He Died in a Tragic Accident. Why Did the Internet Say He Was Murdered? (

To read the complete eBay lot description, see:
The Nobel Prize Medal in Physiology or Medicine RARE USA Swedish With Case (

To read the complete Heritage lot description, see:
Francis H. C. Crick Nobel Prize Medal and Nobel Diploma.... (Total: 2 Items) (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

WBNA E-Sylum ad 2024-01-28 US Sale 5

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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