John Adams Presidential Peace & Friendship Medal + Original Presentation Collar
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John Adams Presidential Peace & Friendship Medal + Original Presentation Collar:
Ancient Art, Antiques, & FineCollectibles
John Adams Presidential Peace & Friendship Medal
On Original Ornate Presentation Collar
to American Indian Chiefs & Warriors
Peace Medal is Dated 1797 A.D.
“If one truly understands the Medicine Pipe then one comprehends the infinite Universe,
for all is reflected in the Pipe.”
I certify that this Peace Medal and its presentation collarwas legally collected in the 19th century and displayed at a Native American Museum for over 100 years.This is an opportunity to legally own a piece of Native American History that is estimated to be about 200 years-old.
DETAILS & CONDITON
This John Adams “Peace & Friendship” Medal fastened on its original presentation collar is authentic and original. The circular, bronze metal measures about 2.83” (72 mm) in diameter and is composed of two die-struck bronze disks held together by an outer metal band. Both sides of the medal show authentic signs of old wear on the lettering and edges, as these presentation medals were passed down from generation to generation by Native Americans.
The obverse (front) of the medallion has the bust of President John Adams facing right with the date 1797, while the reverse (back) of the medal has clasped hands under crossed pipe and tomahawk inscribed, "PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP." The left wrist was covered with the ornamented cuff of a military uniform; the right wrist was bare, except in the case of Jefferson's medal, which covered the wrist with a broad metallic bracelet with the image of an eagle on it.
The attached, ornate, red collar is about 16” long x 12” wide and retains five of the original, hand-stitched, six gold stars—one star being lost to time. The edges of the collar are trimmed in gold brocade. A few of the gold brocade are missing, and a couple have started to unwind the fine, gold metal thread they were made from. The backing of the collar is made from hand-sewn layers of period-correct cloth. The backing is worn, with several old repairs. Please see photos for details and offer accordingly. The collar still has the original museum tag: “John Adams Presidential Peace Medal Dated 1797.
PROVENANCE: Chronology of Ownership
This Peace Medal comes from a 2013 purchase of a large estate of an old museum/collection in Ontonagon, Michigan. The Ontonagon County Historical Society was founded in 1957 to collect and preserve the artifacts of the county's history and to educate the public about that history. The collection included Native American items, geology items, and related topics. The museum building housed collections of mining, logging, farming, marine, and social memorabilia, displayed in room settings and cases.
Brief History of Peace Medals
Peace medals were an integral part of our government's relations with Native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Peace Medals were produced in both silver and bronze for presentation to Native American chiefs and warriors. The medals became treasured symbols of power for their owners, who often wore them around their necks on ribbons. To the chiefs and delegates who received them, these medals were prized possessions, badges of power and status that were often passed down to sons or even buried with them.
During the administration of George Washington, the US government began a policy of presenting silver “Peace Medals” to American Indian leaders at treaty signings. One of the first medals shows an Indian sharing a peace pipe with President Washington, the new “Great Father.” Every subsequent president from Jefferson to Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893) is represented on an Indian peace medal, with the exception of William Henry Harrison, who died less than a month after taking office.
These peace medals were an important part of the federal government’s relationships with Native Americans. They were often presented to tribal leaders to secure treaties and cement political loyalties. The medals, with a portrait of the current President on one side, were usually made in silver or bronze in limited quantities and are now rare and highly collectable.
Lewis and Clark were faithful about writing in their journals about events of each day, which included the distribution of medals. Unfortunately, they rarely recorded the size and type of each medal specifically enough for us to be sure exactly which medals were given out on which days, they state in their journals that they gave out all but one large Jefferson medal. On May 11, 1806, Lewis noted: "Those with the likeness of Mr. Jefferson have all been disposed of except one of the largest size which we reserve for some great Chief on the Yellow Rock River."
A written proclamation was usually read with the presentation of a Peace Medal. One such written proclamation is held as the Smithsonian, in Washington, DC, and reads as follows:
Thomas L. McKenney, head of the Indian Office, to Little Prince, a Creek chief, 1827
US Government Protocol for Presentation of Peace Medals
In the distribution of medals and Flags, the following rules will be observed:
1. They will be given to influential persons only.
2. The largest medals will be given to the principal village chiefs, those of the second size will be given to the principal war chiefs, and those of the third size to the less distinguished chiefs and warriors.
3. They will be presented with proper formalities, and with an appropriate speech, so as to produce a proper impression upon the Indians.
4. It is not intended that chiefs should be appointed by any officer of the department, but that they should confer these badges of authority upon such as are selected or recognized by the tribe, and as are worthy of them, in the manner heretofore practiced.
5. Whenever a foreign medal is worn, it will be replaced by an American medal, if the Agent should consider the person entitled to a medal.
William Clark, Commissioner of India
Depreciation of the Peace Medals
Although highly valued by Native American Chief in the early 1800s, these Peace Medals were later devalued by Chiefs after white traders flooded the tribes with hundreds of medallions that were not representative of the power or prestige of the US Presidents. One Native American Chief Smutty Bear, reportedly stated:
“We are called chiefs but we are only chiefs in name. Our power has departed we no longer have influence with our tribe. The young men are fools have no ears for they no longer listen to us. . . . Our Grand Father gave us medals. We were proud of them. They commanded respect and gave us influence with our people, but the traders soon flooded the country with medals giving and selling them to the young men until they have quite all become chiefs and great men. They have refused to listen to our advice but do as they please. We have laid aside our medals as they are no longer of any use to us.”
Smutty Bear, a Yankton Sioux chief, to an Indian agent, 1848
In many cases, because the medals were distributed to significant members of tribal parties, the medals became sought after symbols of power and influence within Native American tribes. While most of the medals were not distributed with holes in them, Native Americans would often perforate the medals themselves so to be worn around the neck. Indian peace medals are commonly seen in Native American portraiture.
Once the medals became sought after by Native Americans during the period of European colonization of the Americas, many private corporations commissioned their own medals, often featuring the president of the corporation on the face of the medal, which was to be given out by their representative. The practice of distributing medals to Native American became so commonplace at one point that government representatives reported that it was difficult to engage in diplomatic relations without them.
The production of a majority of the American medals took place at the United States Mint in Philadelphia. As the relations between the United States government and American Indian tribes changed and a large number of unofficial medals flooded reservations, the significance of the medals declined.
Each object I sell is professionally researchedand compared with similar objects in the collections of the finest museums in the world. I have been dealing in fine antiquities for almost 50 years and although certainly not an expert in every field, I have been honored to appraise, buy, collect, and enjoy and recently sell some of the finest ancient art in the world. When in doubt, I have worked with dozens of subject matter experts to determine the condition and authenticity of numerous antiquities and antiques. This documentation helps to insure you are buying quality items and helps to protect your investment.
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