Book Series The Studies in Medallic Art, vol. 5

The Early Betts Medal Companion: Medals of America's Discovery and Colonization (1492–1737)

Christopher R. McDowell

  • Pages: xxii + 324 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:300 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-0-89722-389-8
  • Hardback
  • Available


Christopher R. McDowell is a lifelong numismatist and recognized expert in the area of colonial coinage and medals. He is the author of Abel Buell and the History of the Connecticut and Fugio Coinages (C4, 2015), along with several award-winning articles on American colonial coins and medals. An ANS Fellow, Chris is also the editor of the prestigious Journal of Early American Numismatics. This current work grew from Chris’ interest in Charles Wyllys Betts and American colonial history and medals. A graduate of Marshall University and West Virginia University College of Law, Chris served as an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and was stationed in Korea, Germany, Bosnia, and Kansas. He currently practices law in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lives with his wife Annah and three children, Jack, Danny, and Maggie.


This book is a companion to C. Wyllys Betts’s masterpiece, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, and should be used in conjunction with Betts’s book and not as a substitute. Betts’ Contemporary Medals is the definitive work in the area of American colonial medals and has been for over 100 years. It is far from perfect and includes medals that, upon reflection, have little or nothing to do with America, while at the same time ignoring others closely associated with the American colonial experience. Betts also included some medals that do not exist. The present book does not take on the daunting—if not quixotic—task of including all the medals associated with the Americas that Betts failed to describe. Rather, it follows the course set out by him—right, wrong, or indifferent. If Betts included a medal in his book, it is discussed and illustrated here. The only medals added are those closely associated with variants already included or those indispensable to an understanding of a medallic series. This volume updates and illustrates each listing in the first two chapters of Betts. With only a few exceptions, every Betts medal described in Chapters I and II of Betts’s book is illustrated here, many for the first time. These medallic images, along with the historical narrative, bring the story of America’s discovery and colonization to life. In instances where additional images are included, they are used to explain some aspect of the medal and not the historical account. This was C. Wyllys Betts’s vision: history told only through contemporary medals.


Chapter 1. The Period of Discovery
Chapter 2. The Period of Colonization