An Original Congressional Gold Medal, Newly Discovered, is for Sale

PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Raab Collection, the nation’s leading dealer in important historical documents, announced today that it is offering for sale a great American treasure, whose survival had been unknown to the public or historical community: the original Congressional Gold Medal from the early years of the United States, given to victorious General and future President William Henry Harrison for saving the American West in the War of 1812. This medal, which had been retained by descendants until this summer, is one of only a handful known to have survived the centuries and the only from the era given to a President now in private hands. It has never been offered for sale before and is valued at $225,000.

“It is an honor to handle such a historic treasure and remarkable that it survived the ages,” said Nathan Raab, President of The Raab Collection. “It represents a great moment in American history that led to the ascension of an American President. It is a truly unique artifact.”

Since the American Revolution, Congress has reserved its highest expression of national appreciation for the Congressional Gold Medal. The tradition began when General George Washington received it in 1776 from the Continental Congress. This tradition, giving the nation’s honor as a Congressional Gold Medal, continued under the Constitution, but with only some 30 people receiving them in the early (pre-1840) period.

Very Few of These Medals Have Survived the Centuries; Most Are in Institutions

Of the 30 or so Congressional Gold Medals from the War of 1812 and earlier, fewer than half are known definitively to have survived. There is only one other during this early period known to be in private hands and it was given to a Commodore, not a President. The rest are in institutions. Only three medals have come to market in the past few decades, the most recent approximately 10 years ago.

The Harrison Medal and Provenance: The Only Early American Congressional Medal Given to a President in Private Hands

William Henry Harrison received this medal for his great victory at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812, in which he guaranteed American possession of the Northwest. It was awarded by an act of Congress approved in 1818, when he and his men were honored “for their gallantry and good conduct in defeating the combined British and Indian forces...." The engraver is Moritz Furtz and the designer of the obverse is Thomas Sully. The medal is forged in gold. It is large, weighing more than 300 grams and measuring 2.5 inches in diameter. It retains the original presentation case. There was a special ceremony to formally present Harrison with his medal, and it was presided over and bestowed on him by the President of the United States, James Monroe.

Provenance: The original gold medal presented to Harrison, the location of which has been unknown to the public, was a treasure passed down in the Harrison family. We acquired it from an heir directly and offer it here for sale for the first time.

About The Raab Collection: The Raab Collection has handled many of the most important historical documents to reach the market and worked with the families of famous Americans in the sale and preservation of their family treasures, among them Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nathan Raab, a member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, is also a contributor to Forbes.com.

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