Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


?? :USA, 1793?, Silver, 61x85 mm
George Washington standing, has just given the calumet of peace to an Indian chief, who is smoking it. The Indian has a large medal suspended around his neck. There is a double oxen-drawn plow with farmer guiding it through a field in the background. A house and hills are also in the background. There are trees on the left with a tomahawk on the ground. GEORGE WASHINGTON PRESIDENT 1793
The arms and crest of the United States of America. An eagle with a breast shield containing 13 bars, is holding an olive branch in one claw and 13 arrows in the other claw, representing the original 13 states. Over the head of the eagle is a glory, breaking through a cloud. In the eagle’s beak is a banner bearing the phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM (One Out of Many), which is surrounded by 13 stars.
see Prucha pp. 79-85, Belden pp. 13-18 and Loubat 113/18;  Weiss BW334

This medal is a replica of the George Washington Indian Peace Medals seen in Prucha, Belden and Loubat, with the overall design appearing to be a composite taken from one or more of those medals. It is perhaps most like that seen in Loubat (113/18; plates XVIII and XIX), but this medal is considerably smaller. The suspension loop is similar to that of the 1793 Washington Peace Medals shown in Prucha (85/32) and number 7B, plate 8 in Belden.

The engraving in the medal in Loubat (113/18) is thought to be that of Red Jacket, the celebrated Seneca orator and chief Sa-go-ya-wat-ha (He that keeps them awake). The medal was given to him in Philadelphia by President Washington in 1792. General Ely S. Parker, who served on the staff of General U.S. Grant during the Civil War states that the Red Jacket medal was made by Dr. Rittenhouse, who was the director of the United States Mint at Philadelphia during that time, and that these medals were made in three sizes during the administrations of President Jefferson to President Fillmore. Since then they have been made of two sizes only (Loubat).

The design of the current medal is incuse, either stamped or engraved directly onto an oval, silver planchet. If its design were carved directly onto the planchet, the piece may be considered to be unique, although there may be other similar copies in extant.

Silver medals, designed for presentation to Indian Chiefs and warriors, played an important part in American Indian policy. Known as Indian peace medals, these tokens of friendship and symbols of allegiance belong to not only the history of Indian-White relations in the US but to our artistic heritage as well. The government took great care to see that the medals were of high merit. Among the Indians the medals were cherished possessions, to be buried with the chiefs or passed down from generation to generation. George Washington's administration was a crucial period in American relations with the Indians, who for the most part had taken sides with the British during the Revolutionary War. The new nation needed to conciliate them if it was to start its existence in peace. Washington and his secretary of War, Henry Knox, used every means possible to attain this goal and soon they realized that silver peace medals were a necessary instrument in their policy. (From Prucha, F. P., Indian Peace Medals in American History).

LINK to images of Indian Peace Medals (from Numismatics.org)

LINK to the American Revolution (from The History Place)

LINK to FAKE Indian Peace Medals (from Rich Hartzog)

LINK to article on Presentation Medals in the Age of Exploration (by Robert McCracken Peck)