Untraced since 1885, the only remaining privately held gold Comitia Americana Medal authorized by the United States Congress has surfaced and will be sold in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries April 4-8 Spring Auction, the Official Auction for the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo.
The Daniel Morgan at Cowpens Medal was initially authorized in March 1781 by the Continental Congress to recognize the valor shown by Gen. Daniel Morgan at the 1781 Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. It was designed by Augustin Dupre, the French master whose designs for this medal and others, including the Libertas Americana Medal, earned him legendary status among the world’s medallic artists. The Morgan medal is generally considered the most beautiful of the Comitia Americana Medals, referring to the medals authorized by Congress during the American Revolution. Its artistry inspired the designs of later Congressional Gold Medals struck to honor heroes of the War of 1812.
Morgan’s gold medal was lost in 1818, stolen from a vault during the earliest recorded bank robbery in the history of Pittsburgh. Its owner, Pittsburgh banker and writer Morgan Neville, was Daniel Morgan’s grandson and his oldest male heir. Neville used his national reputation and political connections in a decades-long fight to have the gold medal replaced, enlisting the help of congressmen and even retired President Thomas Jefferson. In 1836, the United States Congress finally authorized a replacement medal, permitting just one to be struck in gold.
The medal authorized by Congress in 1836 is the piece to be offered in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring Auction, struck in 1839 at the Philadelphia Mint and presented in 1841 to Morgan Neville’s son.
It remained in the family until at least 1885. At some point, the medal was acquired by famed financier J.P. Morgan who believed, incorrectly, that Daniel Morgan was his kin. The medal disappeared from view for decades, resurfacing in recent months still in its original box of issue. It has been authenticated by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and graded SP63.
“When Anthony Wayne’s Comitia Americana medal in gold was purchased by the Pennsylvania Sons of the American Revolution at Sotheby’s in 1978 for the world-record sum of $51,000, most collectors believed they would never again have the opportunity to own a Comitia Americana Medal in gold,” notes Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ consultant John Kraljevich. “All the others were permanently included in museum collections, from George Washington’s personal medal at the Boston Public Library to Nathanael Greene’s at the Rhode Island Historical Society. The 1839 Morgan medal was assumed to have been lost or melted, like its predecessor medal. Its appearance represents the most shocking and important discovery in American numismatics in years.”
Stack’s Bowers Galleries is the world leader in the sale of rare American historical medals. The August 2021 sale of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to future President William Henry Harrison for valor at the Battle of the Thames in the War of 1812 set a new world record for a medal struck at the United States Mint, realizing $600,000. The previous record of $460,000, for the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to future President Zachary Taylor for the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War, was set by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in 2006.
The Stack’s Bowers Galleries Spring 2022 Auction will be conducted April 4-8, 2022, at Griffin Studios in the firm’s Costa Mesa, California, headquarters. Lot viewing before the sale will be available in Costa Mesa, New York City, and at the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo, March 29-April 1 in Baltimore, Maryland. The entire Spring Auction will be available for viewing and bidding at StacksBowers.com. For more information call 800-458-4646 or email Info@StacksBowers.com.