Indian treaty medals up for auction in mid-March

The Donald G. Partrick Collection of Extraordinary Colonial Coinage will offer bidders a chance at six Canadian Indian treaty medals among the 510 lots slated to cross the block on March 17-18.

Conducted by Heritage Auctions, the sale will be the latest offering from the Partrick Collection, the first part of which was put up for auction in 2015, when 354 of his U.S. colonial coins brought nearly $26 million US. Between last October and this January, another four sales offered his Connecticut coppers; hard-times tokens and merchant tokens; merchant counterstamps; and more colonial rarities.

This March, his New Jersey coppers are the sale’s focus; however, tucked among a 53-lot section of tokens and medals are six Indian treaty medals—one from 1871 (Lot 15184), two from 1873 (Lot 1518586) and three from 1875 (Lot 15187 and 1548687). Each one is offered with no reserve price.

Each of the medals (Lot 15184 shown) depicts then-monarch Queen Victoria on the obverse.

LOT 15184

The first example is an 1871-dated Treaty No. 1 medal certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (NGC) as AU (About Uncirculated) Details, with a notation on the holder explaining the reverse is scratched.

Nonetheless, the 76-millimetre silver medal is a “major Canadian rarity,” according to auctioneers, who add it’s “among the very rarest of all Canadian numbered treaty medals.”

“To say the Treaty No. 1 medal is a rarity is an understatement. There were eight signatories to the treaty, and probably no more than that were issued retroactively. The only other example we are aware of is held by the Manitoba Museum.”

The example on offer this March – with an original hanger and suspension loop – was held in its current owner’s collection for more than 30 years.

“Silver-gray surfaces exhibit a number of small marks and a handful of wispy pinscratches appear in the field between the officer and the Indigenous chief. None of them are significant, and some may find they even enhance the appeal. Certainly, they pale in comparison to the historical significance and rarity of this offering,” reads the auction catalogue.

Lot 15185.

This example was previously owned by Partrick, Winnipeg dealer Ian Laing, the owner of Gatewest Coin, plus Montréal numismatist Warren Baker and late U.S. sportscaster Chris Schenkel.

LOT 15185

One of only a “handful” of known examples, according to auctioneers, an 1873-dated Treaty No. 3 medal will also cross the block as Lot 15185.

NGC certified the 76-millimetre medal as Extremely Fine-45. Like both medals struck for Treaty Nos. 1 and 2, Treaty No. 3 medals are “excessively rare,” auctioneers add.

“We have been able to trace six examples, including one each in the Manitoba Museum and Library and Archives Canada.”

In addition to Partrick, Baker also owned this example.

Lot 15186.

LOT 15186

The following lot offers another 1873-dated medal, this one modified for Treaty No. 4.

NGC also certified this medal – described as simply “rare” by auctioneers – as AU Details.

“(John) Ford had one, the Manitoba Museum has an example, one appeared in a September 2014 Jeffery Hoare sale and was repatriated to Saskatchewan, and another came to market in 2018,” reads the auction catalogue. “We believe a few more may exist.”

The present example features the 4 scratched in by hand over what appears to be a punched 3 in the treaty number. That would make sense given the 3 punch in the date matches that of known Treaty No. 3 medals. Iridescent accents frame the devices, while the exposed areas are largely silver-gray. Scratches and other small dings are expected for a presented medal.

Lot 15187.

This example was also previously owned by Baker.

LOT 15187

Lot 15187 offers an 1875-dated Treaty No. 5 medal certified as Very Fine-30 by NGC.

The 76-millimetre medal is believed to be scarce, according to auctioneers.

“W.H. Hunter’s collection included one, Ford had two, and the Manitoba Museum has one. Three examples, including the present, are in this Partrick Collection sale. Surely, others exist.”

Included with this lot is the ribbon used to suspend the medal and a photo showing a chief wearing it.

It was also previously owned by Baker.

Lot 15486.

LOT 15486

An 1875-dated Treaty No. 5 medal, one of 150 numbered examples ordered from England’s Wyon family of well-known medallists, will cross the block as Lot 15486.

There was, however, the following caveat: “It is important that they should be in the hands of the Minister if possible early in the month of June,” as noted by the auctioneers.

An 1876 memorandum confirms “at least six Treaty No. 5 and three Treaty No. 1 medals had been received in Canada and forwarded to Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba Alexander Morris at that time,” auctioneers add.

Lot 15487.

“It likely that additional medals were delivered earlier.”

LOT 15487

An 1875-dated medal commemorating Treaty No. 5, also certified as AU Details by NGC, rounds out the Canadian highlights.

With a replacement hanger and suspension loop, this example is “cleaned as usual,” according to auctioneers, who note the recipients’ desire to keep the medals “bright and shiny.”

“The medal has all the hallmarks of a genuine example used for presentation. While it is possible the modifications were made for numismatic purposes, it seems more likely that the medal had originally been presented to commemorate the signing of one treaty and reused or passed along in celebration of the signing of Treaty No. 5, which took place not on one occasion but on multiple dates and years across numerous First Nations as late as 1910.”

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