From our (Stack's) January 2010 Americana Sale, described as:
"Frame integrally adhered to cliche by contemporary epoxy or solder, well accomplished from the back, covered at the time of production with multicolor marbled paper. Suspension loop is integral with frame. White paper label adhered to center inscribed in French 'Lafayette ou la France sous les traits de Minerve protege la jeune amerique contre le leopard anglais, vaincu a yorck town en 1781,' translating to 'Lafayette or France, represented as Minerva, protects the young America against the British leopard, defeated at Yorktown in 1781.' The script, ink, and distinctive spelling of Yorktown suggest an 18th-century date. Frame broken at 11 o'clock, cliche separated from frame from 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock, visible only from back, still stable and firmly attached otherwise. The cliche itself is the usual deep pewter gray with some light surface marks and abrasions. Some golden toning is present at the periphery, scattered light spotting of inactive tin pest at lion's posterior, absolute center, and in areas of the left field behind Minerva. The fields are somewhat wavy, as usually seen on cliches of this type. The details of the design remain sharp. Attractive and well preserved, less fragile than an unframed cliche and sound overall. This newly discovered piece was produced at the historical moment just before the Libertas Americana medal first burst onto the scene in spring of 1783. This impression, called an epreuve or "proof" by Franklin and his contemporaries, represents the finished state of the reverse die. Another impression of this state was included in the Ford Collection, sale XIV, lot 288, but the rim on that piece was badly broken. This piece was produced later than the recently sold unfinished cliche in the September 2009 Americana Sale, lot 6101, which sold for $63,250. It was apparently this state, indeed a cliche ssentially identical to this one, that Franklin sent to Sir William Jones in March 1783 with a note stating, 'the engraving of my medal, which you know was projected before the peace, is but just finished. None are yet struck in hard medal, but will be in a few days.' Interestingly, the reverse cliches are more numerous than obverse cliches; despite modern numismatists' love affair with Miss Liberty on the obverse, apparently Franklin's associates found the rich allegory of the reverse to be the more important side. The label on the reverse is interesting. We've never before seen Minerva interpreted as an allegory for the person of Lafayette, as usually it has been identified with France as a nation. The few surviving cliches of the Libertas Americana medal are historically important as trial strikings of America's most famous medal, but their tangible connection to Franklin makes them especially evocative. Impressions such as this would have been distributed at Franklin's pleasure to close friends and associates. Though the provenance of any Libertas Americana medal begins with Franklin, this exceptionally rare trial is an especially personal connection to one of America's most beloved Founding Fathers."
This piece was previously published in the December 1957 issue of The Numismatist as part of George Fuld's work on medallic memorials to the Marquis de Lafayette. It was lost for decades before turning up in our 2010 auction and now reappears as part of this magnificent collection of Comitia Americana medals and cliches. This piece would have likely been given by Dupre to Franklin, and thence to one of Franklin's friends in France, or from Dupre to another historic figure in Paris circa 1783. The marbled paper, similar to paper Franklin is known to have used at his press in Passy, provides another potential link to Franklin himself.
From the Dorchester Heights Collection. Earlier from our (Stack's) New York Americana Sale of January 2010, lot 4732. Lot tag included.