"1799" (1800) Funeral Urn Medal. Baker-166A, Fuld Dies 1-B. Rarity-6. Small Bust. Silver. AU-55 (PCGS).
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Historic Silver "1799" Washington Funeral Urn Medal

"1799" (1800) Funeral Urn Medal. Baker-166A, Fuld Dies 1-B. Rarity-6. Small Bust. Silver. AU-55 (PCGS).
An intriguing and exceptionally well preserved example of this scarce and popular Washington type. Both sides are remarkably smooth with a soft satin texture beneath handsome olive-gray patina. Much of the original finish persists to tempt the viewer as the surfaces dip into a light, such direct viewing angles also revealing iridescent pale gold undertones. The details are uniformly sharp throughout, and the centering is nearly perfect apart from the fact that the obverse is drawn ever so slightly to the viewer's right. Even so, the denticulation is complete around that side, if a bit tight along the right border. Pierced for suspension, as originally issued, although now neatly plugged. We find this plug interesting for, when taken into consideration alongside the exceptional level of surface preservation, it suggests that this medal was not worn as intended but, rather, may have found its way into an early cabinet. In any case, the plug appears to have been done a long time ago, perhaps even shortly after the medal's production.
When George Washington died at his Virginia home on December 14, 1799, the fledgling nation was plunged into an extended period of mourning and celebrations of his life for months. Throughout the young United States, many events and funeral processions were held, and along with it a series of privately produced souvenir medals and badges. Among the best known are those issued by the City of Boston in 1800 for the two funeral processions, one on February 11 and a second on February 22. The medals, struck in silver, white metal, and even gold, were made with two distinct designs: the medals for the first procession bear a skull and crossbones motif, while the medals produced for the later event have a funeral urn instead. The medals were all intended to be worn around the neck from a black ribbon and were all pierced, which as a consequence, very few surviving specimens are found uncirculated or even undamaged. Here is an example that appears to have been purposefully not worn for very long and the hole plugged. Always popular among exonumists and collectors of Washingtoniana, the Boston funeral medals remain a key component of any specialist cabinet of early American medals.
PCGS# 928.

March 2016 Baltimore
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