||March 2020 Baltimore U.S. Coins Auction
||Condition Rarity 1925 Norse-American Centennial Medal
Silver, Thick Planchet
1925 Norse-American Centennial Medal. Silver. Swoger 24Ba-wv3. Thick Planchet. MS-67 (PCGS). CAC.
Delicate pinkish-silver iridescence adorns both sides, with warmer reddish-russet toning along the upper obverse border and around much of the reverse periphery. Frosty luster is full and intense and the surfaces are exceptionally smooth and well preserved. Tied for finest certified by PCGS in MS-67, and worthy of very strong bids.
The design of this commemorative medal type is attributed to James Earle Fraser. Obv:Viking warrior in horned helmet with sword and shield advances from dragon ship, inscription NORSE AMERICAN CENTENNIAL above, dated 1825 - 1925 in the field. Rev:Dragon ship sailing right under four-line inscription, AUTHORIZED BY / CONGRESS OF THE / UNITED STATES / OF AMERICA with date of Leif Erikson's discovery below, A.D. 1000. All Norse-American pieces were struck on octagonal planchets, and the thick and thin silver strikes were almost the same overall diameter as U.S. commemorative half dollars. Coin collectors were given notice of these medals when Wayte Raymond included spaces for them in his albums of American commemorative coins. Since then they have been considered an integral part of a complete set of classic commemorative types.
The guiding spirit behind the Norse-American issue was Representative Ole Juulson Kvale (1869-1929) of the Seventh Congressional District in Minnesota, which included Minneapolis. A Lutheran pastor, Kvale officiated at the second wedding of a brash, reform-minded fellow congressman from New York City, Fiorello H. LaGuardia. Kvale wanted a commemorative half dollar, but since six issues were already authorized for 1925 he had to be content with a medal struck by the Philadelphia Mint with an eight-sided format to prevent confusion with coins. The bold use of Viking imagery has led many collectors to believe that the pieces hailed the voyage of Leif Erikson in 1000 AD. However, the event actually honored took place 800 years later, the arrival of the first organized immigration of Norwegians to the United States.
This band of immigrants arrived on the sloop Restaurationenin 1825, settling in Orleans County, New York. This sloop appeared on a two-cent stamp celebrating the same anniversary, paired with a five-cent stamp with the dragon ship. Individual Norwegians had arrived during the colonial era and more significant numbers came in the 19th century, settling in Minnesota and the upper Northwest. The 1825 event was chosen because of the organized character of the immigration. Commemorative maven Anthony Swiatek researched the Norse-American pieces in his article "A Proud Heritage, the Story of the 1925 Norse Commemorative" in the June 1982 issue of The Numismatist. The artist's signature OPUS FRASER led one dealer to assert, "that must be the brother of James Earle Fraser," when in fact it was Latin for "the work of Fraser."
Estimate: $2,000 - $2,500.
PCGS Population: 2; 0 finer.
Click here for certification details from PCGS.