Nearly full intact silvering on both sides. The obverse frame toned deep variegated slate, with a couple of tiny oxidation spots noted under close examination. The reverse is lighter pearl gray with traces of soft blue, rose and violet in the protected fields. The perpetual calendar is smoothly functional, and the rotating ring is lustrous with pale blue and russet accents.
The ferrotype is nicely preserved, and at arms length, it is bright and clear. Under magnification, a few tiny defects are seen in the form of small chips resulting in black spots. The most notable is at Grant’s right eye, but it is fortuitously positioned as to not be too distracting. Others are tiny and essentially inconsequential. It is interesting to note the highly unusual nature of the portraits. This is the only conjoined bust ferrotype of the 1868 campaign that we are aware of with the portrait of the Vice Presidential candidate first, on the left. All others feature Grant at left.
The perpetual calendar medal is a novel form that is very rare. Those that exist within the realm of campaign medals are considered the true greats of the series, regardless of the candidate featured. The prize of all is perhaps the 1860 Lincoln piece. It is worthwhile to quote the DeWitt commentary for AL 1860-79 here:
“Perpetual calendars were very much in vogue at this time . As indicated, the patent for this piece was entered by S. Smith in the Springfield District Court in 1853. The firm of Ellis and Read, of Springfield, distributed several with their name upon them. In addition to one bearing the ferrotype of Major Robert Anderson (commanding officer at Fort Sumpter [sic] when surrendered), one has been seen bearing the ferrotype of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth who was killed at the very outbreak of hostilities.”
The Lincoln example plated in Edmund B. Sullivan's American Political Badges and Medalets, and also in DeWitt previously, is the Captain Andrew Zabriskie Collection specimen, sold in June 1999 by Sotheby's. Of all the great pieces in the sale, the Lincoln Perpetual Calendar was selected as the lone piece of catalog cover art and, in turn, at lot 530, it realized the highest price of the Zabriskie pieces at $38,500. While anything Lincoln is likely to eclipse items featuring other candidates, all political perpetual calenders are extremely rare. There are a couple of recorded appearances of the Grant perpetual calendar (see next), and it is believed that perhaps five of those exist. However, this Grant and Colfax is the only one known as far as we have been able to determine. According to George Fuld, it is "unpublished in the numismatic literature." It is a singularly important campaign piece from this landmark offering of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection—a world-class rarity for a world-class collection of political Americana.
From the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection. Earlier ex: Wayte Raymond; F.C.C. Boyd estate.