The Bone Player
Vintage Sterling Silver Medallion
Inspired by William Sidney Mount's renowned 1856 portrait
This extremely hard-to-find medallion, also called a medal, coin or round, portrays William Sidney Mount's iconic painting, "The Bone Player."
William Sidney Mount's "The Bone Player"
No portrait of a bone player is better known or admired than this one. Painted in 1856, the portrait depicts an African-American bone player during the waning days of the American antebellum era. The date of the painting is just five years before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War. The minstrel craze was already in its thirteenth year by that time, and destined to gain even greater popularity for another nine years. Interestingly, this painting is a sensitive rendition of an African-American bone player not in blackface during the meteoric rise of minstrelsy. Having enjoyed an impressive run as America's number one form of entertainment for more than 20 years, the minstrel era reached its peak at the close of the U.S. Civil War in 1865. The period from 1843 to 1900 is generally recognized as the minstrel era. And if we include the amateur period, then the bone-playing epoch this medallion represents spans well over 100 years.
From The Treasures of American Art Collection
This rare vintage sterling silver medallion was produced by the prestigious Franklin Mint. The coin was created as part of the Franklin Mint's collector series, "The Treasures of American Art," and bears the company's prestigious mintmark.
About the Franklin Mint
The Franklin Mint was founded in 1964 when it began striking legal tender coins for foreign countries. It also struck commemorative medallions, casino tokens and precious metal ingots. The product line was eventually expanded to include sculptures, deluxe games, precision die-cast models, collector dolls, and other sought-after collectibles for which the Mint is now world famous.
The Bone Player Medallion is a Rare Numismatic Treasure
A limited number of these one-ounce sterling silver medals were struck by the Franklin Mint. You will find little information about the coin online. I asked a sales representative from the company about the coin and its history. He confirmed the medal was part of The Treasures of American Art collector series. But to my surprise, he could not determine when the coin was minted, or how many were produced. I asked if the die was destroyed. The rep said the die was not destroyed. So copies of this coin may be minted again in the future—or not.
At least one commercial grading service claims the medal was minted in 1981. When I asked another professional numismatist about the medal, he responded, "Sorry, this is a rare set and we do not have any info on it either." And the dealer I purchased the carded medal from, proudly exclaimed, "It was one of the nicest of all the 'rounds' I have sold recently."
Solid Sterling Silver Proof Medallion
The medallion is rated PR67CAM. This means the coin was specially made for presentation, souvenir, exhibition or numismatic purposes. Proof coins like this, according to a Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) authorized dealer in Naperville, Illinois, are distinguished by sharpness and brilliant mirror-like surfaces which are created as a result of more than one blow from a die. Such coins exhibit tremendous eye appeal, says the dealer, and they are "fully struck with very few noticeable bag marks."
The same NGC authorized dealer explains that the term Cameo describes proof and proof-like coins in which the "devices" are in contrast to the "fields." In plain English, this means the coin displays a frosted image against a mirror-like background.
Hard-to-find Vintage Item
This vintage coin is a truly rare find. In fact, this is only the third medallion we have been able to acquire since our doors opened in 2007. Whoever owns this historic medallion that commemorates the ancient art of bones playing will enjoy a rare vintage treasure our fellow bone players all want and admire.