Dies by Dupre at the behest of Benjamin Franklin, then U.S. commissioner to France, who suggested the iconography for the issue. In a letter written to Robert Livingston by Benjamin Franklin dated March 4, 1782, Franklin wrote: ''This puts me in mind of a medal I have had a mind to strike, since the late great event you gave me an account of, representing the United States by the figure of an infant Hercules in his cradle, strangling the two serpents; and France by that of Minerva, sitting by as his nurse, with her spear and helmet, and her robe specked with a few fleurs de lys. The extinguishing of two entire armies in one war is what has rarely happened, and it gives a presage of the future force of our growing empire.'"
Obv: bust of Liberty to left with flowing tresses and liberty pole with cap, LIBERTAS AMERICANA arcs above, 4 JUIL. 1776 beneath in exergue, die break on rim below 4 as found on all genuine first strikes of the issue. Rev: standing Minerva in full battle dress with spear holds a French shield over the infant Hercules (America) who is gripping a serpent in each hand, the serpents representing the American victories at Saratoga in October 1777 (the field was won for the American army by Benedict Arnold who was wounded in his leg while rallying the American forces, though credit for the victory was given to General Horatio Gates who remained as far as possible from the actual field of battle) and at Yorktown in October 1781, Minerva fending off a leaping lioness (England), its tail between its legs, an heraldic symbol of defeat, NON SINE DIIS ANIMOSUS INFANS (the courageous child was aided by the gods) arcs above, the dates of the British surrender by General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne at Saratoga on October 17, 1777 and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown October 19, 1781 in the exergue below.
Medium steel gray with lively luster and just a few faint hairlines defining the assigned grade. The high-relief devices are intact and as struck with no wear or blemishes visible. Double struck, with the first impression crushed but visible around much of the peripheral legends and date, especially on the obverse. Perhaps just a couple dozen examples of this rare prize are known in silver, encompassing all grades and physical states, with another 100 or slightly more pieces thought to exist in bronze (see elsewhere in the catalog for an example in that composition); two gold medals were struck and presented by Franklin to the king and queen of France, but no trace of those two gold medals has ever been discovered. Whenever a world-class collection of "colonial" issues is discussed, it must necessarily include a Libertas Americana medal for completeness, for few issues smack of America more than the Libertas Americana medal. Its connection with Franklin and its influence on the earliest products of the fledgling U.S. Mint in 1793 -- witness the 1793 Liberty Cap cent of Joseph Wright's design for instance -- has won a place of honor in the hearts of every collector who has ever owned or aspired to own an example. It is with great pleasure we offer this greatly prized and beautifully designed Franco-American medal for your bidding enjoyment.