COLLECTION: Numismatics

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Washington "Voltaire" medal

Origin: Europe, France, Paris
Diameter: 41 mm
Gift of the Lasser family
Acc. No. 2003-22,58
Label:Over the past two hundred and thirty years, medals depicting Washington have been produced to commemorate everything about the man, from his virtues and accomplishments to his death and subsequent anniversaries.

While Washington didn't appear on a circulating coin until a few years after the Revolution ended, he made his medallic debut on a commemorative piece struck in Paris in 1778 and believed to have been commissioned by Voltaire. Without a portrait of the man to go by, this piece utilized an imaginary image.