Jeff Garrett: Collecting Medals

Posted on 7/21/2022

Interest in medals is growing, and most are affordable for beginners.

The recent sale of the Dmitry Muratov Nobel Peace Prize Medal for $103 million by Heritage Auctions caused an amazing media sensation and brought attention to the world of medal collecting. The sale price was more of a statement of support for Ukraine than a true reflection of value. However, the record price for the numismatic item will still be on the books.

Most collectors consider medals an obscure corner of the market with little relevance to the broad market. The majority of coin dealers seldom offer a selection of medals, apart from a few who specialize in them. Recently, the US Mint has increased the production of interesting medals, and you should explore what they have to offer.

2016-W American Liberty Silver Medal graded NGC PF 69 Ultra Cameo
Click images to enlarge.

2016-W American Liberty Silver Medal

Several years ago, during one of the US Mint Forums held in Washington, DC, attendees suggested the production of more numismatics medals. The 2016 American Liberty Silver Medal pictured above was one of the ideas that came to pass. Panelists told Mint officials that their current offering of bronze medals was unattractive and not very popular. The 2016 American Liberty Silver Medal was well received, and several silver medal projects have been produced with others in the pipeline.

A few years ago, I purchased about 100 of the Arnold Palmer Medals struck in copper, a duplicate of the Congressional Gold Medal that Arnold Palmer was given. I give these out to my golf friends as an introduction to numismatics. I just noticed that the US Mint now offers copper examples of the Congressional Gold Medal given to Jack Nicklaus. Guess I will need to be buying these as well.

Jack Nicklaus Bronze Medal from the US Mint
Click images to enlarge.

The US Mint has 134 different medals offered on its website. Medals are currently offered in the following categories:

The bronze medals can be purchased for as little as $20 each. Most of the silver medals are offered for $65 each. The 2002 American Liberty Silver Medal costs $75 and can be ordered on August 18. The bucking horse design is attractive and quite popular. My personal favorites are the military medals, such as the Air Force medal being offered August 16. These will be sold for $65 each as well.

U.S. Air Force Silver Medal from US Mint
Click images to enlarge.

As can be seen from the list above, the selection is quite extensive, and you will surely find one that touches on a topic of interest.

Silver Libertas Americana Medal

Collecting silver medals in the United States goes back to the origins of coin collecting in the US in the 1850s. At one time, collecting medals was probably more popular than the pursuit of federal coinage. There is a rich history of this part of the numismatic market. One of my all-time favorite numismatic items is the Silver Libertas Americana Medal from the 1780s. The medal was the idea of Benjamin Franklin and was produced in Paris to acknowledge the help of France during the American Revolution.

1781-dated Silver Libertad Americana Medal graded NGC MS 62
Click images to enlarge.

There is a rich history of collecting medals in the United States, but it can be difficult to get started. The Guide Book of United States Coins (Red Book) has a rotation of information about collecting different kinds of United States medals. You can review the last several editions to find information about such issues as Modern US Mint gold and silver medals, so-called dollars and much more. There are also dozens of books and articles about collecting US medals.

One of the best articles I have seen about collecting medals was by David T. Alexander for Coinweek. David gives an excellent history of the subject and discusses one of the greatest medal collectors of all time: John J. Ford. The auction catalogs of his collection by Stack’s are one of the best references ever produced on the subject. Finally, you might check the digital archives of the American Numismatic Association. They have 125 years of articles in a searchable format that can be very useful when researching this exciting part of the numismatic market.

Several years ago, I purchased a collection of so-called silver dollars. Instead of selling the collection, I decided to begin collecting them. It’s a fun pursuit and much less expensive than US federal coinage. I suggest giving this part of the market some thought. Whether you choose vintage medals or more recent productions, they are fun to collect. As they become more popular, medals will probably be a good investment in the future.

Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to the free NGC Weekly Market Report.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.