1936 Nobel Peace Prize medal to sell at auction after appearing in South American pawn shop

Only second Nobel Peace Prize ever to be sold in public auction

The gold medal awarded for the 1936 Nobel Peace Prize is set to be sold at auction in the US after it was discovered by a collector in a South American pawn shop.

The “incredible rarity” will become only the second Nobel Peace Prize medal ever to be sold at auction, after Sir William Randal Cremer’s 1903 award was sold at Sotheby’s in 1985 for £11,550 ($17,440).

It was awarded to Argentina’s then Foreign Minister, Carlos Saavedra Lamas, in recognition of his efforts to negotiate the end of the so-called Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia.

After his death in 1959, the Peace Prize medal “fell into darkness”, said historical medals expert John Kraljevich.

In 1993 someone tried to cash in on the medal at an unidentified South American pawn shop and, apparently unaware of its wider significance, received nothing more than the value of its weight in gold.

Realising its rarity, the shop owner got in touch with a US contact, and the medal was then passed around between a number of private collectors until its latest owner died around 10 years ago.

His descendants have now decided to sell the medal, and it will be auctioned in Baltimore on 27 March by the New York-based Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

A tiny file mark found on the Nobel Peace Prize medal's edge was likely made to determine its worth, at the time when it still faced the prospect of being melted down.

The 1936 medal is only the second Nobel Peace Prize to come to auction and marked the first time an individual from Latin America was recognized by the prestigious award The 1936 medal is only the second Nobel Peace Prize to come to auction and marked the first time an individual from Latin America was recognized by the prestigious award “Back then, you'd grind a little piece off to figure out just how fine the gold was,“ said Mr Kraljevich, a consultant to Stack’s Bowers.

“Had the shop owner not recognized that it might be worth more to somebody than just the value of the bullion ... it would have been melted and thrown in with broken gold earrings.”

The 23-carat relic weighs 222.4 grams, which in today's market would make it worth $9,168 (£5,490) for the gold alone. As an object to collectors and world history, its value is much greater.

“I can't think of many public collections that have a Nobel Prize, never mind a Nobel Peace Prize medal,” said Ute Wartenberg, executive director of the American Numismatic Society. “This is an incredible rarity.”

Mr Kraljevich said that as a historical artifact, the 1936 Peace Prize could bring $50,000 to $100,000 or more.

The auction will also include the first Pulitzer Prize for Public Service medal to come to auction. The 14-carat gold medallion was presented to the now-defunct New York World-Telegram in 1932, and is the only category of the prestigious journalism and arts prize to be awarded a gold medal. It is being sold from the same collection as the Nobel Peace Prize, and has an estimated value of $15,000 to $30,000.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'