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Silver Medal of George Washington Circa 1800


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Found this in an antique store in Florida, spotted it in a jewelry cabinet. Seeing the fleur-de-lis, the axe & what looked like it could be Louis XVI I took it for a medal & pinback holder with a safety chain and axe commemorating Louis's death by guillotine. Using an axe to represent his death by guillotine was used on other medals, the guillotine was really just a mechanical axe. Bear in mind that the medal is only 23mm X 17mm. When I looked at the reverse of the medal it was stamped sterling which was commonly used in the USA at that time without any makers marks(unlike England) so I assumed it was made for the French emigres in the US. The fleur-de-lis is silver plated but both the axe & medal are silver.

 

DSCF1909.jpg

 

As you can see the medal is in fact George Washington, at first I thought some enterprising US jeweler had just used a small Washington medal instead of bothering to make one of Louis, hoping to pass it off, it being so small. I would have dated it between 1793 to 1814.

 

Washington-horz.jpg

 

Then I thought perhaps it has nothing to do with Louis & was meant to be Washington, the axe makes sense but the fleur-de-lis is a problem. But Washington did have a boxwood parterre in the shape of a fleur-de-lis at Mount Vernon which is thought to represent his friendship with Marquis de Lafayette and to pay tribute to the French for helping America win the Revolutionary War. That would date this then to 1799 or later.

 

So my current theory is that perhaps a French emigre in the USA wore this circa 1800(or earlier?) to commemorate George Washington. In any event it was a steal for $18.

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:bthumbsup: Great find!

 

I'm going to disagree on the dating based on the "sterling" mark - it (925 grade silver) generally did not come into popular use in America until the mid 19th century - most US silver articles from the first half of the 1800s were coin silver rather than sterling.

 

Early 1800s US (coin) silver spoons are sometimes also seen with a maker's name only but no indication of silver grade.

 

I'm more inclined to put it towards late 1800s, perhaps around the centennial.

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I'm more inclined to put it towards late 1800s, perhaps around the centennial.

 

Thanks for the info ccg, I agree with you.

 

It is an interesting item of jewelry which, though I am pleased to have acquired, I hope it does not lead me into collecting Washingtoniana as I fear it will be too expensive for me!

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