Medal Commemorating Dutch Recognition of American Independence, 19 April 1782
||facing page|| 65
Silver medal by the Amsterdam medalist, Joan George Holtzhey. The obverse side reads: “LIBERA SOROR / SOLEMNI DECR. AGN. / 19 APR. MDCCLXXXII” (“A free sister, acknowledged by solemn decree, 19 April 1782”). The reverse side reads: “TYRANNIS VIRTUTE REPULSA / SUB GALLIAE / AUSPICIIS” (“Tyranny repelled by valor under the auspices of France”). See C. Wyllys Betts, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, New York, 1894, p. 290–291. Two allegorical figures, representing America and the Netherlands, grasp hands near a burning altar under the rays of the sun. America, in an Indian headdress, rests her foot on the head of a lion. On the reverse a unicorn, one of the supporters of the arms of England, lies wounded after breaking its horn against a precipitous rock.
On 2 November 1782 John Adams wrote Holtzhey to thank him for “the Present of a Medal, in Commemoration of the great Event of the 19th of April 1782,” which he found “ingeniously devised and . . . very beautiful.” He thought Holtzhey “would find a Sale for many of them at Boston and Philadelphia,” and promised that upon his return to Holland “I shall be glad to purchase a few of them to give to my friends” (Adams Papers
). On Adams' advice Holtzhey marketed a number of the medals through John Stockdale in London. When, on 24 March 1784, Adams sent a “Couple of Medals” to Charles Spener, a Prussian bookseller, he stated that “These Medals were not Struck by any publick Authority” but were “the Invention and Execution of the Medalist Holtzhey of Amsterdam solely” (Adams Papers
). Concerning this and other medals associated with John Adams' mission to the Dutch Republic, see, further, Henry K. Pasma, “Dutch Fireworks—And Our Own,” National Historical Magazine
(a publication of the National Society of the D.A.R.), 73 (1939), No. 7, p. 8–11.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.