Home Page


Next Coin

Featured Coin
1776 (circa 1783) Libertas Americana

Silver Medal


Variety Betts-615 - PCGS MS65

  Obverse: Variety Betts-615 - PCGS MS65

Click Coin to Enlarge

Reverse: Variety Betts-615 - PCGS MS65

Click Coin to Enlarge



While merchants continued to conduct business in the Colonies without a national silver dollar, General George Washington continued to fight on the battlefields for the Country’s independence.  Washington’s prowess as General led to key victories and a major turning point in the War, as well a major turning point in the design of our national coinage.  Following Washington’s defeat of British General John Burgoyne on October 17, 1777, and British General George Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, Ambassador Benjamin Franklin thought to commemorate the events by the striking of special medals.  Franklin commissioned noted French sculptor Augustin Dupre for the task.  The engravings were prepared, and finally the medals were struck in Paris, France in March of 1783.

To this day, the so-called “Libertas Americana” medals are generally considered to be the most beautiful of all of the early colonial medals.  The obverse displays the portrait of a youthful woman (Miss Liberty) facing to the left with her hair flowing freely to the right.  Behind her portrait, we see a pole slanting from lower left to upper right, topped with a Phrygian cap, as adopted by freed slaves in Roman times to proclaim their new-found liberty.  Above the portrait is the legend “LIBERTAS AMERICANA” and below is the date “4 Juil 1776.”

The reverse bears the inscription “NON SINE DIIS ANIMOUSUS INFANS” (translating to “the infant is not bold without divine aid”) above, and the dates 17 Oct. 1777 and 19 Oct. 1781 below.  The intricate reverse design features Minerva, clad in breastplate and plumed helmet, holding a shield bearing the fleur de lys of France.  The infant Hercules (representing the new American nation) kneels in the protective shadow of Minerva’s shield, grasping a strangled serpent in each tiny fist.  (The serpents representing the defeats in battle of Burgoyne and Cornwallis.)  The British lion stands, with its forepaws on Minerva’s shield, and its tail between its rear legs, as a symbol of its cowardice in defeat.

Just two were struck in gold, a small handful in silver, and several hundred in bronze.  Franklin presented the gold medals to the King and Queen of France and several of the silver medals to the ministers of the French government in appreciation for their assistance during the Revolutionary War.  Franklin also presented medals of silver and bronze to members of the Continental Congress and other VIPs.

Clearly, the Libertas medals made a lasting impression on Congress, causing them to abandon their thoughts of the Continental Dollar design and the various proposals for placing Washington’s image on circulating coinage.  Indeed, with the adoption of the Mint Act of April 2, 1792, Congress resolved that for all coins struck, “Upon one side of each of the said coins, there shall be an impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word Liberty…”

Pedigreed to the Harry Bass collection and graded by PCGS as MS65, the Cardinal Collection specimen is one of the very finest surviving of the rare Silver Libertas medals.  The medal bears an extremely sharp strike, with even the very smallest of details boldly rendered in ultra-high relief.  The deeply mirrored and reflective fields contrast sharply with frosted design motifs, and delicate iridescent toning in pale rose, sky blue, gold and violet complete the specimen’s immense visual appeal.


Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation
E-Mail: mail@earlydollars.org
� 2005, by the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation
All rights reserved.