This medal is in XF45 or better condition. Aside from a minor rim ding, it is in great shape. It’s also huge and heavy – it contains more than 5 ounces of 99.9% pure silver, which makes it worth quite a bit just as a bullion investment.
On the obverse, it shows a railroad spike with the flat end up and to the left, the point down to the right. The legend around the rim reads “Golden Spike Centennial Celebration Commission, The Oceans United By Railway”. The spike is driven through a block labeled “1869 – 1969”. Above and to the right of the block is the writing “Sacramento” and below is “Promontory Omaha”.
On the reverse,this medal shows two train engines meeting head-on with lines suggesting the Rocky Mountains in the background. The legend around the rim reads “The Central Pacific And Union Pacific Railroads Linking The Nation, Promontory Summit, Utah”. Below the trains is the quotation “…The Pacific Railway Is Completed. May 10, 1869.” The two trains are the Union Pacific #119 and Central Pacific #60 (AKA the Jupiter) locomotives.
Identification code: (unknown)
Mint Mark: P (to the left of the spike for Philadelphia)
Mintage: unknown (but fairly large)
Country of origin: United States
Composition: 99.9% silver (0.999 silver is the same standard that American Silver Eagles and other silver bullion coins are minted to). Another site lists the medal in 90% silver, but I think that’s a listing error.
Size: 64.5 mm
Weight: 147g / 5.15 oz of 99.9 percent pure silver.
Other details: Even though you can go to Promontory Summit and see the meeting place of the two trains, it’s a total put-on. There are reproductions of the two trains there (both were scrapped around 1901) and the train tracks no longer run through that area. There is a 1.5 mile stretch of rebuilt track, administered by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Spike National Historic Site (since 1957).
Also, did you know that there were really 4 different precious metal spikes used for the ceremony? There were 4 flashy spikes used that day (plus a 5th duplicate of the famous golden spike). The spikes include a big gold spike, a smaller gold one, a silver spike, and an iron spike laced with gold & silver. I wonder where they are now – surely they weren’t left in the railroad ties?
You might also be interested in the Longines Medal commemorating the completion of the Trans-continental Railroad.
Estimated Value: $170-180 with silver at $36/oz