The Liberty Cap coinage of the fledgling United States was inspired by the famous Libertas Americana medal, whose dies were engraved by Augustin Dupr? in Paris in 1782 from a concept and mottoes proposed by Benjamin Franklin. To Franklin (then U.S. minister to France), the infant Hercules symbolized America, strangling two serpents representing the British armies at Saratoga and Yorktown. Minerva, with shield and spear, symbolized France as America’s ally, keeping the British Lion at bay. Franklin presented examples of the medal to the French king and queen (in gold) and to their ministers (in silver), “as a monumental acknowledgment, which may go down to future ages, of the obligations we are under to this nation.”
Between 100 and 125 original copper medals exist, and two dozen or more silver; the location of the two gold medals is unknown. Over the years the Paris Mint has issued restrikes that have modest value as mementos.