1826 Erie Canal Completion Medal. HK-1000. Silver, 43.3 mm. MS-63 (PCGS).A spectacular example of this American numismatic classic. Richly toned with lovely deep olive and tobacco tones around the obverse periphery and across the reverse, with the obverse fields alight with gold and olive toning over reflective and lustrous surfaces. This is an unusually attractive and well preserved example of this historic medal, engraved by C.C. Wright and struck by New York silversmith Maltby Pelletreau. There is a thin hairline across the tridents left prong and careful examination will find a long curved hairline across Neptunes knees. The reverse shows just a few contact points and some rather trivial hairlines, far fewer than usually seen (and the reverse always seems more hairlined than the obverse on these). The strike is sharp, neither distorted by double striking nor soft as sometimes seen. The strike and planchets on these are occasionally a bit crude, but this is a very well made medal. Since striking, it has been well cared for and remains very pretty today.<p><p>Since 2006, we have offered a silver Erie Canal medal on 17 occasions (plus the unique First Reverse medal that brought $26,400 in November 2017). Categorizing those 17 offerings (which include a few duplicates) by grade is instructive, and roughly equates with your catalogers broad view of how the grades break down among survivors. Exactly one medal, representing two of those 17 offerings, was higher grade than this one: the NGC Proof-66 that failed to sell in 2011 and then brought $13,512 in November 2016. Four were no grades, with flaws like cleaning, scratches, and polishing. One was worn but problem free enough to be given a circulated numerical grade (AU-58 NGC, in the 2012 ANA sale). And almost all the rest (nine pieces, one sold raw in 2006) graded either 61 or 62, representing more than half of all offerings. The only examples graded higher than 62 were the aforementioned Proof-66 and a single PCGS MS-63 sold in March 2016. The data reflect what most so-called dollar specialists and advanced collectors of American historical medals already knew: this medal is extremely rare in Gem, often comes with scratches or severe hairlines that either keep it from grading or confine it to grades below Choice Uncirculated, and it is almost always deeply toned unless seriously cleaned. PCGS has never graded a Gem. This example is in a rare sweet spot in the population: neither a Gem that may stoke competition to the stratosphere, nor a replacement-level typical piece with below average eye appeal.PCGS# 926014.<strong>To view supplemental information and all items from the Sydney F. Martin Collection, click<a href="https://stacksbowers.com/sydney-f-martin-collection/"target=’_blank’> here.</a></strong>.From the Sydney F. Martin Collection. Earlier from our (Stacks) Americana sale, January 2004, lot 2453; Lawrence R. Stack Collection, November 2006.