Vintage Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal Marble Bookends

Presented is a vintage set of marble bookends, to which reproduction Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace medals have been affixed. The bookend set is designed so each bookend shows a different side of the medal. Thomas Jefferson is depicted in profile on the obverse of the medal, with the inscription: "TH. JEFFERSON PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. A.D. 1801." The inscription on the reverse of the medal, "PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP," was symbolized by the image of clasped hands and a crossed tomahawk and peace pipe.

The original Jefferson Indian peace medal was designed and engraved by John Reich. Prior to the American Revolution, the British, French, and Spanish had presented American Indian leaders with silver medals, as tokens of distinction and allegiance. Because of the symbolic importance of these medals in maintaining peaceful relations with Indian tribes, the new United States government continued the practice. Thomas Jefferson, the first Secretary of State, described the policy in 1793 as "an [ancient] Custom from time immemorial." He went on to write: "The medals are considered as complimentary things, as marks of friendship to those who come to see us, or who do us good offices, conciliatory of their good will towards us…” Medals were presented to Indian chiefs on their visits to the national capital and on important occasions such as the signing of a treaty. Federal officials distributed medals when traveling through Indian territories and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark carried a large supply of the Jefferson Indian peace medals on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean from 1804 to 1806. 

Unmarked, these vintage bookends most likely date to the mid to late 20th century. 

CONDITION: 

Good condition, with only light wear. Marble bookends, with gold-colored affixed medals. Natural variations are present in the beige marble. 




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