1886 U.S. Mint Abraham Lincoln medal

I.R. writes: What can you tell me about a copper Lincoln inauguration coin dated March 4, 1861?

The original medal you have described was struck at the Philadelphia Mint and has the following description: size: 76 mm. OBVERSE: Bust of Abraham Lincoln to right with the legend around ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

REVERSE: Ornate banded wreath of oak and laurel surrounding the inscription INAUGURATED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MARCH 4. 1861. SECOND TERM MARCH 4, 1865. ASSSASSINATED APRIL 14, 1865. Beneath the inscription there are sprays of pine and cedar encircled by a serpent biting its tail, the Egyptian symbol of immortality.

The medal was first struck in the late spring of 1886 but records are not clear who actually authorized the medal. Those examples with MORGAN on the truncation of the bust were probably struck after 1917 when Morgan became the chief Mint engraver. The wreath on the reverse of this medal was also used for the commemorative medal of President Garfield’s assassination.

The medal was struck in gold, silver and copper. The copper examples have a deep chocolate color. “Brassy” color examples are modern Mint made copies that vary from the above description.