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King George II silver peace medal / European

Essay/Description

A King George II silver medal. On the front, a bust of the king and the inscription, “Georgius II Dei Gratia.” On the back, two figures and the inscription, “Let us look to the most high who blessed our fathers with peace.”

George II medals show him in a Roman style tunic with armor, a lion’s head on the shoulder. The reverse image depicts a colonist, presumably a Quaker and an Indian sitting around the campfire sharing a peace pipe.

This medal was made to commemorate the Treaty of Easton(1757-1758). The Society of Friends (Quakers) in Philadelphia commissioned Edward Duffield to make the dies for the medal. Mexican 8 real silver coins were over struck with the new design.

This medal was made in silver by the US Mint before 1875. It has a die crack that runs horizontally across the middle part of the medal. Dies to make medals and coins were so difficult to make, even damaged ones were used.

Silver peace medals were given to influential Native Americans as a symbol of friendship and allegiance with the United States government or foreign power. Medals were given on important occasions, like the signing of a treaty, and then only to very influential members of the tribe. The medals held even greater importance than normal during times of war or tension, particularly between the US and Great Britain. The countries would compete for the loyalty and friendship of the tribes, and a chief trading in British medal for a US one signified a change in loyalty (Prucha 2000, xiv). Gradually, the medals original meaning diminished, and they were given as rewards for good behavior. The practice was discontinued in the late 1800s.

Native Americans placed great significance on the peace medals and viewed them not only as a sign of friendship, but of power. A suggested reason for this is the connection they saw between these medals and the shell gorgets worn and decorated to represent power. The gorgets, which typically only chiefs and the elite would wear, held a supernatural power source. Images on a gorget gave the wearer the power of what the image represented. Similarly, to the Native Americans, the image displayed on the medal, the head of the president or king, gave the wearer the leader’s power (Reilly III 2011).

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Title(s): 
King George II silver peace medal
Culture: 
European
Date: 
1757
Period: 
American Colonial
Place: 
England
Materials/Techniques: 
silver
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
65.19
Department: 
On View

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