|1876 was the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America. A great Centennial Exposition to celebrate the occasion was held in Philadelphia that year. The official medals of the Centennial Exposition were designed by William Barber and struck at the US Mint Exhibit on the fairgrounds in various metallic compositions. The gilt version of the official medal offered here was originally sold for 50 cents at the fair in 1876. The Hibler-Kappen book on So-Called Dollars reports that 10,500 of the gilt 1876 Centennial Exposition Official Medals were struck. This example of the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition Official Gilt Medal is listed as HK-22 in the Hibler-Kappen book on So-Called Dollars and has been graded MS65 by NGC and is encapsulated in one of the newer-style edge-view holders. This medal is awesome. If you have looked at other examples of the HK-22, they are typically a dull looking medal with a gilt finish that has almost always darkened and usually has parts of the underlying copper poking through. In contrast, this piece has a very bright gold-plating that probably looks the same as the day it was made. The piece has strong prooflike fields that appear virtually black with cameo devices when tilted one way, and then reveal strong die polish lines when tilted another. I have attempted show photos of each look, but the in hand look is just amazing and I believe that you are extremely unlikely to find another HK-22 in the same league as this one when it comes to overall eye appeal. Only a single light scratch in the left obverse field undoubtedly kept this piece from grading a point or two higher. The medal is otherwise just about perfect, with only a couple of relatively tiny marks in the fields which are well hidden amongst the strong die polish lines. Please note the plastic holder does have several light scratches and scuffs which unfortunately show in the photos. In looking at the NGC Census, this is one of only two examples of the HK-22 which have graded MS65 with no examples ever grading higher. An amazing top pop example of this popular so-called dollar that is certainly one of the best survivors, if not the very best survivor, of the issue.
Because of the difficulty in capturing the overall look of the coin in a single image, I have also included a short high-definition video of the coin in an attempt to give you a better idea of what this coin will look like in hand. Please note that you may need to adjust the video quality to 1080p and may need to increase the size of the video to full screen in order to see the coin with maximum detail.