Hello, Dino -- You inherited a Madison Indian Peace Medal from your family? Great! Indian Peace Medals were minted under all US presidents from Washington to Andrew Johnson.
These medals have seen a lot of counterfeiting, so if you said you bought it on eBay for a few dollars, I'd be skeptical. Even so, Rich Hartzog, one of the nation's foremost authorities on medals and tokens, has a web page dedicated to fake IPMs at his web site Exonumia.com. You should check Rich's page before getting too excited about your holding. Roughly:
1. Small (33 mm) diameter medals are modern restrikes by the US Mint produced after 1960
2. Large (50 mm to 75 mm) diameter medals might be originals if they are minted in silver and have a hole for suspension. But they could be fakes, especially if they are silver plated copper.
3. Large (50 mm to 75 mm) diameter medals might be originals if they are minted in copper and are not cast or have a light tan finish
The medal in the primary picture (upper left) comes from the people at iCollector.com, who have several high-quality examples of genuine Indian Peace Medals for sale and at auction. In such wonderful numismatic (coin collector) condition, the iCollector piece would sell for about $300 US dollars, probably more. It is difficult to accurately estimate values of medals and tokens because the market is much smaller than legal tender coinage and this series is plagued by counterfeits. This is especially true with IPMs. Our estimates below are based on scanning auction results for various types of Indian Peace Medals, but they can be way off depending on specifics of particular medals.
Some examples of IPMs and their pricing appear in our composite image to the right. The (A) piece is an amazing silver specimen which sold for $35000 at auction. (B) is an oblong IPM that netted $800. The dark color and large size of (C) indicates a genuine IPM. This one sold for $1600. But, alas, what you see mostly on eBay and similar venues is the $5 small-sized US Mint restrike, shown at (D) in our montage. Finally, (E) is a large sized, light tan modern restrike selling around $30.
Nailing down concise values for Indian Peace Medals is fundamentally impossible for a forum as generic as CoinQuest. Very, very approximate catalog values run like this:
ORIGINAL MEDALS (50 mm to 75 mm diameter)
worn: $200 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $300
well preserved: $500
fully uncirculated: $700
MODERN RESTRIKES (76 mm diameter)
worn: $5 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $10
well preserved: $15
fully uncirculated: $30
MODERN RESTRIKES (33 mm diameter)
worn: $1 US dollars approximate catalog value
average circulated: $2
well preserved: $4
fully uncirculated: $8
Nevertheless, you must always be careful about spending too much money on a piece that you are not 100 percent sure about.
NEVER CLEAN A COIN. CLEANING RUINS VALUE.
CoinQuest thanks iCollector.com for the use of their photograph. Visit their site and you will see a lot more amazing Americana.