Genuine, Fake and Fantasy Indian Peace Medals.
If YOU are interested in collecting Indian Peace Medals., please let me know YOUR interests via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We stock a wide variety of genuine Indian Peace medallic items. Do you have the BOOKs on these?
FAKE and FANTASY INDIAN PEACE MEDALS.
Unfortunately, with the increase in popularity and price of genuine Indian Peace medals, the crooks and con-artists have moved in. Actually, the crooks moved in well over a hundred years ago! If you have a Peace medal and wonder if it is genuine, check the following. Please note that original copper medals were silver-plated over a hundred years ago, so the age of the collection producing the medal is NOT a good indication of it being genuine! Indians are known to have sold silver-plated medals to collectors over 75 years ago.
There are three basic types of Indian Peace medals:
I. OVAL George Washington hand-engraved medals, and other hand-engraved medals. These are excessively rare and highly desirable awards to Indians, hand engraved by silversmiths on both sides. Sizes vary, and each is unique.
Every single oval Washington Peace medal sent me has been a modern copy!
1. Is your oval medal a cast copy? Most of the oval Washington Indian Peace medals are cast copies of originals, often made many years ago to fill the cabinets of collectors who could not afford originals. Recently seen pieces are the wrong size! Original ovals are hand-engraved on a sheet of silver, and are finely made by master silversmiths. Please note the key words: Finely detailed! If your piece is crudely done, has mushy details, has a dark overall cast, and/or the individual lines are not clear and crisp, it is likely it is a copy.
2. Is your oval Peace medal an English Copy? Around 1960 or so, some hand-engraved silver copies were made by English silversmiths, as copies. These are more difficult to distinguish.
3. Does your oval medal have a hallmark? Most, but not all, original medals include a silversmith hallmark. If yours has a hallmark, it is a good sign, but not a conclusive one. Most of the fakes do NOT have hallmarks (so far).
4. Did your Oval Medal come with a fancy banner, ribbon or trade beads? Modern sellers of fake/fantasy Indian Peace medals often put them on genuinely old (ca. 1900-1940) banners or ribbons, or even on genuine ca. 1870 trade beads. Look at the MEDAL, not what it is attached to. However, please realize that MOST of the medals that are suspended from banners/ribbons/beads are modern fakes.
End result: If you believe you have a genuine oval Washington Indian Peace medal or any other hand-engraved Peace medal, you have a real prize and I am most interested in buying it and will pay AT LEAST $10,000 (mostly up!). Please also note that every single oval piece I've been sent has been a fake, and it is highly unlikely yours is an original! However, I keep hoping the next one will be genuine. Fake oval pieces are available in the $250-1000 range, retail.
If you want to SELL: You MUST have your piece authenticated NOBODY will pay top dollar for unauthenticated Indian Peace Medals. I no longer buy ANY silver Indian Peace Medal without authentication papers.
II. Round or oval medals, struck in the U.S. Mint. Genuine SILVER Indian Peace medals were struck from the same dies as those struck for collectors in copper. The copper/bronze collector strikes were made from about 1860 to about 1990, and are differentiated by color and minor or major die varieties. Genuine silver Indian Peace medals start at about $1000 and go up, with pre-1904 copper strikes valued at $100 up. I am strongly interested in buying these, and will pay AT LEAST these prices for genuine pieces.
1. Is your medal SILVER or Copper/Bronze? Most all genuine Indian Peace medals awarded to the Indians by the U.S. Government were made in SILVER. Most of these were also sold to collectors, starting around 1860, and are struck from the same or similar dies, in COPPER. These copper pieces are known as bronzed copper, as they do not look like copper coins, but more like bronze. If your medal is copper - bronze, skip to number 8, below.
2. Is your medal depict George Washington on one side, and have clasped hands on the other, and is round? It was struck after 1904, only for collectors. They exist in small and large sizes, and in several varieties. The following is an example of a ca. 1960 George Washington Indian Peace Medal, struck by the US Mint for collectors. The 1904 examples are exactly the same, except for differences in color.
George Washington President of the United States 1789, bust right, reverse: crossed tomahawk
and peace pipe, Peace and Friendship around. First made about 1903-1904 to complete the early Peace medal
issues of the Presidents by the US Mint, sold ONLY to collectors. Obviously if first made in 1903, this was never
awarded to Indians.
George Washington, The Father of Our Country, facing bust, reverse: Friendship The
Pipe of Peace, clasped hands, crossed tomahawk and peace pipe, wreath.
The Father of His Country George Washington, bust right, reverse crossed tomahawk and
peace pipe, Peace and Friendship, clasped hands, 1843
3. Is your silver medal unholed? Most genuine silver Indian Peace medals, except the U.S. Grant medals, were issued holed or looped at the top for wearing by the Indians. If yours is not holed, and shows no sign of being looped, it is most likely a modern copy. Post-1900 U.S. Mint silver strikes are still of significant value, and are actually rarer than originals! Some later issue IP medals were issued in silver, unholed. Generally a hole is a good sign of your medal being genuine.
4. Is your silver medal like new, with minimal wear? Most (but not all) medals awarded to Indians were worn with pride for many years, and show significant wear, often to the point that details are lost. If yours is in near mint condition, it is likely a modern strike. The Mint struck pieces in silver for collectors up to about 1960, on demand (and in excessively small numbers!). These were issued unholed and have a different finish from original issues.
5. Special Note on Jefferson Medals: Some Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace medals were struck as thin silver shells, with cardboard between. They are not solid silver. All are fairly rare. Some early (pre-1900) copies were made, also rare. All need to be authenticated, and all are valuable.
6. Have you checked to see if your silver medal is plated? Over a hundred years ago, Indian Traders ordered copper collector-strike medals from the Mint, had them silver-plated, and traded them to the Indians. Well, yes, this is a US Mint Indian Peace medal and an Indian got it, but since it was not awarded by the U.S. Government, it is not considered an original. Check with a strong magnifying glass around the letters, and with a light, inside the hole. If the inside of the hole shows copper, obviously it is plated. Other, more recently plated pieces may show wear to the letters from a polishing wheel, and an even plating of silver over it. A careful edge test, or an inside-hole scraping may be worthwhile. Any local jeweler can indicate if he thinks your piece is silver or not. However, a specific gravity test is necessary to determine this for sure. Plated medals are only of modest collector value, perhaps $25-100.
7. Is your silver medal a cast copy? Cast copies in silver were made by jewelers and others from originals (usually copper pieces), and show numerous pitting, tiny holes and other voids in the medal. A high-quality cast copy may look great. However, confusing things is the fact that some silver Indian Peace medals were struck on cast silver planchets, and the voids seen on casts may be also seen on a genuine, struck piece. Cast copies are only of modest collector value. Struck medals on cast silver blanks are quite rare.
End Result on SILVER medals: Most all silver Indian Peace medals that I have seen are NOT originals. If you think yours is silver, get it authenticated! I'd love to offer AT LEAST $1000 if it is a genuine piece given to an Indian (actually much more for most!). For top dollar for your silver Indian Peace medal, get it certified. Authentication!
8. Is your COPPER medal a U.S. Mint strike or a cast copy? Actually there are few cast copies of copper (or non-silver) medals, as the copper pieces are not worth much! Cast copies have minimal value.
9. Is your COPPER medal 33mm in size? The small, silver-dollar sized 33mm copper medals are modern, ca. 1960-1990 US Mint strikes sold to collectors. I have most all of these medals available at $25 each retail, just write.
10. Is your COPPER medal a modern strike? Is your medal a light tan, or a deep, chocolate mahogany color? There are four basic colors of these collector strikes.
A: Up to 1904 they were carefully struck with polished dies, with a dark mahogany brown color, with very sharp relief on the letters and devices.
B. In 1904 a handful of pieces were issued in a sea-green finish, and are excessively rare.
C. In the early part of the 20th century, they were struck in a medium tan, with sharp letters.
D. However the vast majority of pieces seen are modern (ca. 1950 up) collector strikes in a light tan, with a sand-blasted finish, resulting in somewhat indistinct lettering. The pre-1904 copper collector strikes in MINT condition are worth $100 and up wholesale (and substantially less for minor wear, damage or fingerprints). The post-1904 tan specimens are of modest collector value, $75-200+ retail. If your copper/bronze piece is holed, it probably comes with a story that it was given to an Indian. The story is worth more than the medal. The George Washington 1789 medal above is a ca. 1960 strike in LIGHT TAN.
End result on COPPER: Unless yours is a pre-1904 piece, or unless you have several, I'm not interested in a single specimen in modern tan (sorry!). I do want to buy all sea-green pieces, and any in a deep chocolate brown. Ship!
III. Non-US Peace Medals, mostly British.
The small round George II Indian Peace medal ("Georgius II Dei Gratia), with a Quaker on the reverse offering a peace pipe to an Indian, is the most frequently seen piece. Actually this is a U.S. Mint piece, given by Quakers in silver to nearby Indian Chiefs, and it has been a popular collector item in copper since before 1860. It exists in silver, has been extensively cast-copied in silver, in copper, in modern bronze and other base metals. Modern tan specimens are of modest value. Pre-1900 mahogany and silver medals are wanted.
A number of other, non-US Indian Peace medals were issued. If you have some reason to believe your piece is an original, you need a certificate to maximize your return. A number of varieties of Indian Peace medals were made, and even the experts are not always in agreement about when they were made, or if they were given to Indians. Authentication!
I want to buy ALL authenticated Indian Peace Medals.
There are several good books on Indian Peace Medals (postage extra):
INDIAN PEACE MEDALS in AMERICAN HISTORY, Prucha. Great historical research, pictures, etc. Hard-Bound 1971, 186p. Detailed descriptions, Historical Notes, $125.00 Low Stock: WRITE FIRST.
INDIAN PEACE MEDALS, Belden. 1966 reprint, photos, lots of information. Hard-Bound 1927, 68p. $120.00 Low Stock: WRITE FIRST.
The Indian Peace Medals of George III, or His Majesty's Sometime Allies, John Adams. NEW BOOK, recently released. Tells how the British, French, Spanish and Americans sought to gain the friendship of Native Americans by giving them large medals that could be worn as amulets. Hardbound, wonderfully detailed, pictures, photos, detailed descriptions, more! $165.00
MEDALS STRUCK by the U.S. MINT, The First Century 1792-1892, R. W. Julian. The classic reference, photos, lots of information. Hard-Bound 1977, 425p. Detailed descriptions, Historical Notes, Standard Reference, $74.95
PRICE GUIDE to U.S. MINT MEDALS, Hartzog. Soft-Bound 1986, 64p. $33.00
NOBLE PEACE PRIZES: A Study of the George Washington Administration, Infanti/Stednitz. Detailed historical look at the oval Washington peace medals. Hard-Bound 1991, 163p. $124.95
Authenticity: I no longer do written reviews. If you believe your Indian Peace medal might be genuine, and especially if it is silver, you need to have it authenticated. Please see: Authentication! If your seller won't guarantee (in writing) your piece, it is highly likely to be a fake or fantasy!
My Experience: So who am I to make claims about Indian Peace medals? I've
been a collector and dealer in tokens, medal, exonumia, slave tags and other collectibles since 1962, and a full
time dealer since 1972. In 1991 I produced my mail bid sale catalog #9, offering the largest selection of genuine
silver Indian Peace medals ever sold (ever, so far) at any auction. I also authored a Price Guide to U.S. Mint
Medals, to go with the Julian book on them (see above books). And oh yes, I'm a life member of the ANA, TAMS,
CWTS, CSNS, IL-NA, NOW and others, a member of the ANS, and served as a long-term Board of Governors member of
TAMS, CWTS and CSNS, and I was President of the Chicago Coin Club for 5 years. In short, I've been around, I've
studied the field and I know a few things about Indian Peace medals. If you'd like to contact any of these organizations,
check the web or email me for contacts.
Thomas Jefferson Monticello
© All web pages AND all images: Copyright Rich Hartzog World Exonumia ® 1997-2003
Fakes --- Slave