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Virginia "Happy While United" Indian Peace Medal

1780
Origin: America, Virginia, Richmond or Williamsburg
Diameter: 72.4 mm, Weight; 1140.0 grains (73.75 grams.)
Bronze (cast)
Museum Purchase partially underwritten by the Lasser Family Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund
Acc. No. 2009-6
Obverse; The goddess Virtue holding a spear and a sword resting her right foot on a trampled tyrant (George III) holding a sceptre, and with his crown falling off.

Reverse; A European-American and a Native American seated on a bench sharing a "peace pipe." To the right is a tree, shading the two figures, and behind them is harbor(?) scene with three vessels at sail.

The integral suspension loop is formed by a crossed calumet and an eagle's(?) wing.
Label:Unique in the history of colonial Amer-Indian relations is the "Happy While United" peace medal produced in Virginia in 1780. Based on designs by noted artist Pierre Eugene du Simitiere and New York silversmith Daniel Christian Feuter, these large cast brass medals were produced somewhere between Richmond and Williamsburg in late 1780 at the behest of Governor Thomas Jefferson. In fact, an example identical to Colonial Williamsburg's was recorded as a gift from Isaac Zane, of Marlboro Iron Works fame, to du Simitiere some time before May of 1781.

Using the peace pipe scene from an earlier medal made in New York City, the Virginia example uses the fledgling state's first seal. With the goddess Virtue trampling what is no doubt George III, the legend reads Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.


Provenance:Purchased by John W. Adams privately on October 24, 1990 from James Welch; earlier, ex. Stan Steinberg, from an unidentified Spink or Seaby sale ca. 1970, in a lot of 12.

"The John. W. Adams Collection of Medallic Distinctions Awarded to North American First Peoples," Stack's, January 12, 2009, Lot 5059.
Inscription(s):Obverse; REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD with VIRGINIA above the device within a ribbon

Reverse; HAPPY WHILE UNITED with 1780 in exergue.