Libertas Americana Medals

Obverse of Libertas Americana Medal
Reverse of Libertas Americana Medal

Ron Guth: The Libertas Americana medal is one of the most famous and cherished of all the medals relating to American history. According to the historical record, the brainchild for the medal and its designs was none other than Benjamin Franklin. In a March 1782 letter to Robert Livingston, U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Franklin wrote, "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." (quoted in Joseph Loubat's The Medallic History of the United States of America). Clearly, the final design is a bit more aggressive than Franklin's suggestion, but one gets the point nonetheless.

The obverse of the medal shows a head of Liberty with flowing hair, facing right, a freedman's cap atop a pole in the background. This model served as the inspiration for some of the U.S. Pattern coinage of 1792 and for the first U.S. Half Cents in 1793.

Silver versions of the Libertas Americana medal are very rare. Bronze versions are more common but are still valuable and are highly prized.