Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The Unloved Medal
Try to imagine a beautifully crafted historical artwork in an extremely limited edition by a highly respected artist that would have been awarded originally to a hero of a historically important military campaign in 1800. And then consider that this artwork would be nearly impossible to reproduce or forge.
What would this historically important artwork be worth? Let's say the piece in question was one of an edition of 180.
Well, if the piece were called a "presentation strike" coin of 50 grams, out of a mintage of 180 pieces from the British Indian series, we could guess it would sell for around 15,000 to 20,000 dollars depending on the condition.
If it were a lithograph by a well known artist from 1800 out of an original edition of 180 it could be worth anywhere from about $4000 to $250,000. A piece with historical significance would tend towards the latter figure. In fact, a piece with great historical significance - such as one connected to the American Revolution - might be worth millions of dollars.
But call it a medal? The lowly medal?
What would that be worth?
If you can find one at auction - take the Honourable East India Company Seringapatam Medal 1799 by Conrad Kuchler, minted in silver gilt and awarded only to Junior Officers of that historic campaign - you could probably pick it up at auction for $2500. If you can find one. One appears every few years. Often the same ones are recycled. Of the 180 original pieces we can reasonably expect very few to have survived in collectible condition - or any condition.
And as with all things grossly undervalued, those that have survived are not likely to be offered at any price close to the auction price. Because those fortunate enough to find an example understand how difficult they are to replace. It's just that, at present, this is a very small community.
So why would someone in this tiny community publicize this when even a few extra collectors could blow out the price structure?
Because everyone benefits when consciousness is raised. Nobody's going to go out looking for this Serengipatam medal. It would be pointless. You won't find one. (Yes, there's one on my site, but it's not for sale.) But within your own particular collecting areas of interest there will be grossly undervalued medals, that you probably haven't even considered. They won't remain undervalued forever.