Proposed Coinage

The Libertas Americana Medal
"1781 Libertas Americana Medal MS64 PCGS. Silver. Betts-615. 47.5 mm. 57.22 gm. In a letter dated March 4, 1782, Benjamin Franklin wrote to the Honorable Robert Livingston, then the Secretary for Foreign Affairs for the recently victorious United States. In response to previous correspondence, Franklin mentioned a side project of his, as quoted in Joseph Loubat's The Medallic History of the United States of America: "This puts me in mind of a medal I have had a mind to strike ... representing the United States by the figure of an infant Hercules in his cradle, strangling the two serpents; and France by that of Minerva, sitting by as his nurse, with her spear and helmet, and her robe specked by a few 'fleurs-de-lis.'" That design would become the reverse of the Libertas Americana medal, justly famous for its beauty and one of the best-known medals among American numismatists.

The design of the Libertas Americana underwent a number of minor changes between Franklin's early description and the medal as rendered by Augustin Dupre. Dupre was a French medallist whose sterling reputation was known all across Parisian society, and Franklin, then serving as Ambassador to France, commissioned the gifted artist. The medal's famous symbolism bears repeating here. The obverse has LIBERTAS AMERICANA (American Liberty) across the top. The center shows a striking bust of Liberty with flowing hair, Phrygian cap on a pole behind her. Below, in the exergue, appears the date 4 JUIL. 1776 (4 July 1776), slightly misspelled from the proper Latin form 4 JULI. 1776. The signature DUPRE appears at the truncation of the bust. The reverse center shows the infant Hercules, symbolic of the United States, strangling two snakes that represent the British armies of Saratoga and Yorktown. At left, Minerva with the fleurs-de-lis of France on her shield and a spear in hand, thwarts the attack of a lion representing Britain. Above the scene is the motto NON SINE DIIS ANIMOSUS INFANS, from Horace's ode "Descende coelo," variously translated "the infant is not bold without divine aid" (Betts), "the courageous child was aided by the gods" (Loubat), or similarly. In the exergue below, two dates with a common month, 17 OCT. 1777 and 19 OCT. 1781, signify the victories at Saratoga and Yorktown. The signature DUPRE F. appears at the lion's feet.

While Betts dates the medal to 1781, further correspondence from Franklin clearly places the strikings of the Libertas Americana medals in 1783, demonstrated by selected quotes from Loubat. As cited in the first paragraph, the medal was still in planning in 1782, and while Franklin sent early examples of the medal with a letter dated April 15, 1783, a brief passage from a March 17 letter of that year notes that strikings "in hard metal" were not available. Franklin, however, did send a test piece along with that letter to Sir William Jones, who had supplied Franklin with the pertinent quote from Horace.

The Libertas Americana in silver is much rarer than its counterpart in copper or bronze. In a letter of April 15, 1783 to Livingston, Benjamin Franklin reveals why: "I enclose one [medal] in silver for the President of Congress and one in copper for yourself. The impression on copper is thought to appear best; and you will soon receive a number for the members." Franklin continues in this vein, and mentions that a silver medal had been presented to each minister in the French court. Still, between the added expense of silver and the perceived aesthetic superiority of copper, it is little surprise that few examples were struck in silver, and more than two centuries of attrition have further limited the supply."

Source: Heritage Coin Auctions

1792 French Liberté Françoise Medal
1781 Libertas Americana Medal
Silver (24+ exist)
Copper (estimated 100+ originals exist)
Gold (Minted but none discovered)

French Liberté Françoise Medal
1792 French Liberté Françoise Medal
1781 Libertas Americana Medal
Post-Colonial Coin Home

Post-Colonial Issues

Speculative Issues, Tokens, and Patterns

Nova Constellatio Coppers 1783-1786
Confederatio Coppers 1785-1786

Speculative Patterns

Immunis Columbia 1786

Coinage Of the States

New Hampshire 1776
Massachusetts 1787-1788
Connecticut 1785
Connecticut 1786
Connecticut 1787
Connecticut 1788

New York and Related Issues
Brasher Doubloons (Gold))
Copper Coinage 1786-1787

Imitation British
Halfpennys Machin Mills 1786-1789
Nova Eborac Coinage For New York
New Jersey 1786
New Jersey 1787
New Jersey 1788
Vermont 1785_1787

Private Tokens After The Confederation

North American Tokens
Bar Coppers
Auctori Plebis Tokens
Auctori Plebis Hispaniola
Mott Store Card
Standish Berry Threepence
Albany Church Pennys
Kentucky Tokens
Franklin Press Tokens
Talbot Allum Lee Cents
Myddelton Tokens
Copper Company Of Upper Canada Tokens
Castorland and Medals
Theatre at New York Tokens
New Spain (Texas) Jola Tokens
North West Company Tokens

Washington Pieces

Georgivs Triumpho Tokens
Washington Portrait Pieces 1783
Washington Portrait Pieces 1791
Washington Hancock Pattern Cent 1792
Washington Getz Patterns
Liberty and Security Tokens
North Whales Halfpennies
Success Medals

Contract Issues and Patterns

Continental Currency 1776
Nova Constellatio Patterns 1783
Fugio Cents 1787

Proposed Coinage

Silver Center Cent 1792
Birch Cent 1792
Half Disme 1792
Disme 1792
Quarter Dollar 1792
The Libertas Americana Medal

United States Coin Guides

Colonial Coin Guides  1615-1767

U.S. Type Coins Guides 1792-Present

U.S. Gold Coin Guides

Get our toolbar!
Iphone and Android coin applications by CoinHelp! Click Here
Check Our Facebook CoinHELP! Fan Page
Have numismatic question click here