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It is one of 21 struck at the request of President Franklin Pierce as an award to the rescuers of the Northern Belle, an American freighter that foundered off Thanet in a snow storm on January 5, 1857.

The rescue attempts resulted in the loss of eight lifeboatmen but every crew member from the Northern Belle was saved.

Word of this made it back to the US and President Pierce commissioned the medallist Koehler to design and mint a medal.


The original case for the US Presidential lifesaving medallion that sold at Bentley’s.

Each one was engraved with one of the 21 recipient’s names and was awarded along with a cash reward. This medal is engraved in the name of John Fox.

The last example to appear at auction in the UK sold at Dix Noonan Webb in 2016 for £4600.

Bentley’s example carried an estimate of £3000-5000 on July 3 and came in its original moulded bois durci case. It sold for £7200.