1925 Norse Medal struck in Gold PCGS PR65. All Norse gold pieces were struck as matte proofs. As such the surfaces are especially susceptible to contact marks and shiny spots. This propensity toward showing handling marks underscores the dual nature of the Norse medals. They were authorized and struck as medals, but treated by the Mint and collectors as coins. This is a remarkably clean example. The khaki-gold surfaces show the coarse granularity seen on all gold pieces. We see no obvious contact marks and very few shiny spots. Very rare in gold and seldom found finer. This example comes to us uncertified and was submitted to PCGS only once. We believe it has been of the market since the early 1960′s held by the same family ever since then.
Bowers and Merena’s May 1999 catalog of Part I of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, lot 2065, includes excellent background information on the Norse-American medals as part of the description for the present example. We quote this information here:
Congressman O.J. Kvale of the 7th District, Minneapolis, a member of the Congressional Coin, Weights, and Measures Committee, was instrumental in the production of the Norse-American medal series. As early as February 1925, Kvale visited the Treasury Department with his plans for a medal to recognize the accomplishments of the Norse-American settlers in his area of Minnesota. His initial plan called for round medals, but their proposed size would have conflicted with circulating coinage, hence the octagonal format. The silver for these medals was to come from Mint stock, thereby saving the newly formed Norse-American Centennial Commission the cost of procuring silver on the open market. The only cost incurred by the Commission was the production expense for up to 40,000 medals plus the cost of associated dies. On March 2, 1925, Congress authorized the production of 40,000 silver medals and 100 gold medals, all to be produced at the Philadelphia Mint. Records indicate that 39,850 silver and gold pieces were struck in May and June of 1925, 33,750 of which were on “thick” silver planchets, 6,000 on “thin” silver planchets, and 100 pieces on .900 fine gold planchets. The silver pieces were counted, bagged, and shipped to the Fourth Street National Bank of Philadelphia for delivery to the Commission. The cost to the Commission for each piece delivered was 45 [cents] for the “thick” version, 30 [cents] for the “thin” version, and $10.14 for the gold version. The Commission then sold the pieces at $1.25 for the “thick” and $1.75 for the “thin.” According to an article by Anthony Swiatek in the June 1982 volume of The Numismatist, collector “Max E. Brail of Jackson, Michigan, remembers purchasing the gold specimen for $20 back in 1925.” The Centennial Commission retained first strikings of the silver and gold types. Additionally, it is known that Congressman O.J. Kvale received gold medal number two, the second piece struck, in recognition of his services to the Commission.
Although 100 gold Norse-American medals were originally produced, only 46 pieces were actually distributed. The remaining 53 pieces were returned to the Mint and melted.