The initial session opens with a flourish as Stack’s Bowers presents a sensational high quality collection of Comitia Americana medals, clichés and splashers. The Dorchester Heights Collection (lots 4073-4100) celebrates the spirit of the American Revolution and the foundation of the United States through the historically significant Comitia Americana medals. These medals were authorized by Congress to commemorate the men and battles that helped us achieve independence. The project was the brainchild of Benjamin Franklin and most of the art was produced in Paris by the finest engravers of the era such as Dupre and Duvivier. Collected extensively by astute numismatists, the series is well documented in John W. Adams & Anne E. Bentley’s Comitia Americana reference (2007, George Frederick Kolbe) making the medals historically accessible and elaborating their development, rarities and nuances. The medals that comprise the Dorchester Heights Collection were painstakingly assembled with an emphasis on their history and significance.
The first Congressional Medal of Honor was appropriately awarded to George Washington. An outstanding Washington Before Boston medal, struck from original dies, is a fitting beginning to this cabinet (lot 4073). The stirring Houdon bust is majestic upon the 76mm planchet. The Duvivier reverse depicts Washington on horseback looking upon the British evacuation scene below. The common denominator of this collection is outstanding condition, and this remarkable assortment of medals includes bronze strikings from original dies of several important issues, like the Horatio Gates at Saratoga (lot 4076 and lot 4077), 1779 DeFleury at Stony Point (lot 4078), John Paul Jones (lot 4082), William Washington at Cowpens (lot 4089), John Eager Howard (lot 4090), and the extremely rare 1787 Nathanael Greene medal (lot 4091), which was one of 24 pieces struck. Additionally, a remarkable silver John Paul Jones medal is featured in Mint State as lot 4081, which is sure to entice American and Naval medal collectors alike. Benjamin Franklin is integral to the series and an extremely rare bronze original of the Franklin Genius reverse medal (lot 4092) once hailed from the Boyd Collection. Lot 4096 features a bronze Libertas Americana in Mint State, a classic design ranked number one in Whitman’s 100 Greatest Medals and Tokens.
The Dorchester Heights Collection contains an exceptional selection of uniface white metal clichés and splashers, pieces that acted as the earliest strikes and samples for these medals. These pieces came directly from the artist’s studio and are of the highest rarity and historical significance; they were often held in the hands of dignitaries, including Benjamin Franklin himself. This collection offers lovely clichés of the Gates obverse (lot 4075), John Paul Jones obverse and reverse (lots 4079 and 4080), Major Henry Lee obverse (lot 4083), and Daniel Morgan obverse and reverse (lots 4084 and lot 4085). Perhaps the most significant pieces in the collection are two Libertas Americana reverse clichés, including the unique discovery version with INTANS instead of INFANS in the legend offered as lot 4094. The pedigree traces its illustrious history to Dupre and Benjamin Franklin himself, adding historical allure to the overall significance. Additional highlights include the Diplomatic Medal created by Thomas Jefferson that is collected with and listed in the Adams/Bentley reference. There are only three original bronzes extant, but the exceedingly rare obverse and reverse strikes from the original dies are offered in Mint State condition as lots 4097 and 4098.
The Dorchester Heights Collection is an exceptional cabinet of historical Numismatic Americana, and any of its pieces would be a wonderful addition to any collection. Cataloged and researched by John Kraljevich, Jr. and produced by our Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction team, this selection is certain to elicit excitement as it crosses the block. See you all there!