Obv: Fame seated on the clouds, supporting two shields with her right hand and holding a trumpet with her left hand. Rev: Mercury flying toward a pyramidal monument. Surfaces lightly cleaned long ago, but now lightly reflective with lilac and deep gray overtones and quite pleasing in hand. This medal is the smaller of two with these designs. The John J. Ford collection included just a single specimen of this variety, described as "Choice Extremely Fine. Cleaned long ago, now recolored to a rich gunmetal blue-gray hue." It sold for $920. This piece essentially equal quality to Ford's and is superior to the Lucien LaRiviere example that we last sold in our November 2006 sale, where it realized $1,380.
Today in 2013 Betts medals -- pieces coined in America and in Europe with themes relating to the colonial era of America -- are one of the hottest tickets in numismatics. Whenever we have an offering there is great excitement. We could hardly have imagined this 20 years ago when Betts medals were among the most obscure of obscure specialties. Today, the rich history of these pieces -- each has a story to tell -- has drawn many enthusiasts, and deservedly so. Curiously, the standard text on this series is by C. Wyllys Betts and was published way back in 1894.