authentic c. 1872 antique american intricately designed ornamental cast or struck bronze great chicago william e. barber-designed "fire medal"

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UR #:: UR-21545-15

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Product Description

original nicely aged c. 1872 circular-shaped "fire medal" containing a finely executed (obverse) portrayal of the city in flames, with an angel holding a torch and sword in flight over fort dearborn, which was a united states military fort built on the edge of the chicago river in 1803. a large portion of the fort was destroyed in a fire that occurred during the 1850's and what was left of its outer walls were later completely destroyed by the great chicago fire. the text below reads: "chicago oct 8-9 1871, / fort dearborn chico / 1812." the reverse contains a centrally located winged phoenix (a mythical sacred bird that lives as long as five hundred years and is then ignited by the sun's rays. after its body is consumed by flames, another phoenix emerges from the ashes) rising from the flames amid smoke surrounded by the words: "made from chicago court house bell / semper resugens." the cast or struck solid bronze medal was executed by william e. barber, who worked as a die engraver in london before immigrating with his family to boston in 1852. he was hired by the gorham company as a die engraver for ornamental embossing of silver plate. barber was later hired as the assistant engraver at the united states mint in philadelphia in 1865 and was promoted to head engraver in 1869. according to some sources, 500 of these particular medals (struck in 1872) were distributed, presumably by h. s. everhart & company, with barber as the fabricator (the artist's name is found on the coin). the bronze metal used to make this historically-important contain was salvaged from the c. 1853 chicago city hall building (destroyed in the fire) bell, which alarmed the city of the rapidly advancing fire until the building's tower that housed the bell was consumed in the fire. the bell was badly damaged from crashing into the rubble and was auctioned off by the city a few months after the fire was extinguished. in addition to medals, miniature fire helmets and bells (in the shape of the original) were made and sold to the public with letter of authenticity from the city.