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Rare 1936 Gold Nobel Peace Prize Medal Captures a Record Price — Competitive Bidding Creates a Million Dollar Medal

By Frank Van Valen, Numismatist and Cataloger, U.S. Coins; Based on the lot description by John Kraljevich, Numismatic Consultant

Author: Frank Van Valen / Thursday, April 03, 2014 / Categories: United States Coin of the Week

The 1936 Nobel Peace Prize sold to a private collector in Asia for $1.16 million — a figure that far surpassed the expected final sale. The medal was just one of the highlights from the Stack's Bowers Galleries sale of The Charles A. Wharton Collection of historical medals that attracted global attention from experienced collectors and first-time bidders at the March 2014 Stack's Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the Whitman & Coin and Collectibles Baltimore Expo.

The first time a Nobel Peace Prize was sold at public auction was in London in 1985 when Sotheby's offered the medal awarded to Sir William Cremer in 1903 - it realized just $16,750. Little did anyone know what the future held for similar medals until nearly 30 years later!

Carlos Lamas (1878-1959) was the Foreign Minister of Argentina. The medal awarded to him marked the first time a South American received the award. It was awarded to him in part for “his recent achievements in the politics of peace…his unusual energy and singleness of purpose.” Lamas was instrumental in ending the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia, fought for control of the Chaco Boreal region, and was respected for his work toward an anti-war pact that was signed by 15 nations beginning in 1933.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 94 times since 1901. Other Nobel Prize medals have come up for sale over the years, but only on very rare occasions has a Nobel Peace Prize been sold — just twice in 113 years! It remains to be seen whether the $1 million+ sale price of the Lamas medal will pry other gold Nobel Peace Prizes out of collectors’ hands, but if such is the case, we are certain Stack’s Bowers Galleries will be chosen to offer them at public auction. The world-class team at Stack’s Bowers Galleries is at your service. When great numismatic items are sold and records are set, you can count on Stack’s Bowers Galleries.


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