Lot 245: Ulysses S. Grant / Chief Joseph Peace Medal
United States Peace Medals have a long and storied history. They are very scarce and have been copied for quite some time. Finding an original medal is something special but finding a medal with a connection to a famous Chief is extraordinary. This is a true United States of America Presidential Peace Medal struck in 1871. It is a Ulysses S. Grant issue and the only medal issued by the government without the name of the President whose image is on the medal. This particular piece has a long history connecting it to the noted Nez Perce Chief Joseph. It is believed that this medal was presented to Joseph on the occasion of the dedication of Grant's Tomb. It is known that 300 Grant medals were struck by the U.S. Mint and delivered to the Indian Office in 1871, all pure silver and 2.55" in diameter.
It is also believed this medal is the same example photographed by Dr. Edward Latham in 1902. These images are in the University of Washington Libraries Collection Division (catalog numbers NA954 & NA955). A caption on the negative sleeve for the Grant side of the medal reads: "Bronze medal presented to Chief Joseph by President Grant in 1871."
Literature: "Chief Joseph's Presidential Medal" by Alan L. Hoover 2015. A copy of the book is included with the medal.
From, "Chief Joseph's Presidential Medal" by Alan L. Hoover, 2015, pages 7-8.
In 2015 a Ulysses S. Grant silver Presidential Peace Medal was purchased from a Walla Walla collector. In 1962 the collector’s father had purchased the silver Grant medal from a young Nez Perce man who was acting on behalf of Cornelius Talatoy, the son of Chief Tow-at-way, a nephew of the famous Nez Perce leader “Heinmot Tooyalakekt” also known as Young Joseph and then Chief Joseph after his father died in 1871. Following Chief Joseph’s death in September 1904, a huge traditional “give-away” of all of Joseph’s possessions took place in 1905. His three nephews, identified as Ollicutt, Black Eagle of Montana and Chief Tow-at-way played a prominent role in the ceremonies. According to a contemporary newspaper report the three nephews received important regalia described as “The great war bonnets and war clothing”… The identification of “Talatoy” / “Tow-at-way” / “Tawatoy” as one of Joseph’s nephews and his presence at Joseph’s “give-away” (memorial feast) in 1905 suggests that he received the medal at that event. Chief Tow-at-way died three years later in 1908. His son Cornelius Talatoy sold the medial in 1962.”
Brian Lebel's High Noon Auction - January 23, 2016