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Colombia, large gold medal, 1904, tribute to Lucien Bonaparte-Wyse for Panama canal project, very ra

Currency:USD Category:Coins & Paper Money / Exonumia - Medals Start Price:12,500.00 USD Estimated At:15,000.00 - 30,000.00 USD
Colombia, large gold medal, 1904, tribute to Lucien Bonaparte-Wyse for Panama canal project, very ra
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Colombia, large gold medal, 1904, tribute to Lucien Bonaparte-Wyse for Panama canal project, very rare, NGC MS 62. 53.93 grams; 45.5mm. Obverse with arms inside legend LA REPUBLICA DE COLOMBIA AL DISTINGUIDO FRANCES * LUCIEN NAPOLEON BONAPARTE WYSE; reverse DECRETO / N°629 / 13 DE JULIO on open book with fasces and wreaths in background, year 19-04 at bottom; edge marked with "OR" and hallmark for maker Janvier-Duval; rich gold color with hint of toning around details, high-relief arms with slight flattening on highest point (condor's breast). The story behind this important and impressive medal goes back to 1878, when the government of Colombia, of which Panama was a province at that time, granted a concession to French naval officer and businessman Lucien Wyse (whose middle name was Napoleon Bonaparte in tribute to his famous great-uncle) to build the Panama Canal. The project started in 1881 but halted in 1889 when the contracted company went bankrupt; then in 1894 a new firm resumed the project but was taken over by the United States, whose interest in Panama increased after the 1898 Spanish-American War, resulting in the independence of Panama and of course the eventual completion of the Panama Canal as a United States possession (known as the Canal Zone, handed back to Panama at the end of 1999). In issuing this medal by the decree shown on the reverse, Colombia was showing its gratitude to Wyse for his role in initiating the project. NGC #4495170-007.