The Libertas Americana medal vignette was inspired by Benjamin Franklin who was then U.S. minister to France.
In a letter dated March 1782 from Paris to Robert Livingston, U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Franklin wrote, "This puts me in mind of a medal I have had a mind to strike ... representing the United States by the figure of an infant Hercules in his cradle, strangling the two serpents; and France by that of Minerva, sitting by as his nurse, with her spear and helmet, and her robe specked by a few 'fleurs-de-lis." (quoted in Joseph Loubat's The Medallic History of the United States of America).
The two serpents being strangled by the infant Hercules portrays the defeat of the British armies at Saratoga (1777) and Yorktown (1781) by America the victor. France’s assistance to America during the Revolutionary War was invaluable.
The Libertas Americana medal was minted in Paris as acknowledgement to future ages of the obligation owed to France for their alliance and assistance to America during the Revolutionary War.
Gold medals were given to the French King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette while silver medals were given to their ministers. The rest of the medals were minted in copper.
There are many counterfeit medals or copies.
The location of the original gold medals given to the French king and queen is unknown.
(noted by "The Official Red Book" by R.S. Yeoman Kenneth Bressett, Senior Editor)
Five-hundred restrikes of the gold medals were minted in Paris in 2001 for collectors. The restruck medals are desirable to coin collectors and exonumia collectors. Most coin collectors also collect exonumia.
The Liberty Cap half cents and large cents were inspired by the Libertas Americana medal. The design of lady Liberty with a helmet on a pole signifies freedom from King George III of England.
Coin collectors looking to divest a coin or coin collection may contact Louis Pinga of GI Coins in West Warwick, RI. Click subscribe next to the headline for articles about coins as they relate to your personal finances.