United States of America Presidential Peace Medal struck in 1871. 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. Face: "United States of America - Liberty Justice and Equality – ‘Let Us Have Peace’ " with profile of Grant along with pipe and laurel. Obverse: "On Earth Peace - Good Will Toward Men - 1871" along with the earth, Holy Bible, farm implements, surrounded by stars. It is known that 300 Grant medals were struck by the U.S. Mint and delivered to the Indian Office in 1871; we do not know know to whom this particular medal was issued. All pure silver and 2.55" in diameter. Hole drilled into the top center.
Lot 151, Brian Lebel's Old West Auction - January 20, 2017, Mesa, AZ.
During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), the US government began to issue “Presidential Peace Medals”, a practice that continued through to Benjamin Harrison's presidency (1889-1893). Each of these medals featured a likeness of the then-current President.
Medals accompanied almost all formal interactions between Native Americans and the US Federal Government. Unlike the medals that came before them that were issued alongside treaties, the Presidential medals were issued to select individuals, usually leading and influential chiefs.
Early photographic portraits of Native American Chiefs often show them wearing medals, a testament to their importance. An example of this can be seen to the left, where Chief Red Shirt sits posed, his Ulysses S. Grant medal hanging prominently around his neck and accentuated by the lighting. The medals were held in such high regard that they were often to be buried with the owner, or passed down from generation to generation.