Rare GW on Base "1799" Washington Funeral Urn Medal
Our May 2019 Baltimore Official Summer Expo Auction offers an exceptional array of rarities from the Washingtonia series, highlighted by a newly discovered original Washington before Boston medal in silver. Another important highlight from this offering is a rare "1799" GW on Base Funeral Urn medal in white metal that ranks as finest known of the die pair.
The death of George Washington at his Mount Vernon home in Fairfax County, Virginia on December 14, 1799, plunged the nation into an extended period of mourning. Events were held in commemoration across the country. In 1800, the city of Boston staged two funeral processions, one on February 11 and a second on February 22. For both occasions, special funeral medals were produced in two designs. The medals made for the first procession bear a skull and crossbones motif, while the medals produced for the later event feature a funeral urn. They were struck in white metal, silver, and a few in gold, and were nearly all pierced so that they could be hung around the necks of attendees. The medals were meant to be worn, and as a consequence, very few surviving specimens are found in Uncirculated grades or even undamaged.
The historic AU-53 (PCGS) Funeral Urn medal featured in our May 2019 Baltimore Auction is a significant offering for the Washingtonia enthusiast and is one of only a handful of this type known to exist. Both Crosby and Baker considered this type to be unique in the late 19th century. By 1999, the authors of Medallic Portraits of Washington indicated that only three examples of the GW on Base variety were known–only one of which was from the Fuld 6-F dies as offered here. More recently, specialist Neil Musante estimated in Medallic Washington (2016) that perhaps just two to seven examples survive of the overall GW on Base type. We are aware of only five distinct specimens from the Fuld 6-F dies, and the present example ranks as the clear finest of this population. The most recent offering of an example from this roster was our August 2013 sale of the EF-45 (NGC) example which realized $22,325. It is a historic memento representing the grief the United States experienced with the loss of its first president.