What Are Libertas Americana Medals?

Libertas Americana Medals: An excerpt from the Archangel Collection of Colonial Coins and 1792 Coinage Catalog and the John J. Ford, Jr., Part XIV Catalog


No other medal in the canon of American numismatics is invested with so much history and importance as the Libertas Americana medal. It followed the declaration of American independence, whose date is placed in the obverse legend, and the support of France in the American cause. The two greatest American victories, that of Gates at Saratoga and Washington at Yorktown, are referenced with dates in the reverse exergue.

The Libertas Americana medal was commissioned by Benjamin Franklin as a tribute to American independence. Silver specimens were distributed by Franklin to the president of Congress, members of George III’s government, and the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, among others. Members of the Continental Congress of 1783 may also have received silver medals, but there is no certainty about this (they may have received bronze medals, instead, Franklin was not definite). The dies were finished in later 1782 and the first medals were struck in 1783.

Silver examples are perhaps 10 times rarer than bronze examples. Having been distributed non-numismatically, many have been mishandled, and examples that are uncirculated are legitimately rare.

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