Pillar of the Community
A bill that seemed doomed from its inception was one that called for a 1949 half dollar "in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts."
Marblehead, MA is a small town located on the North Shore of Massachusetts, on a peninsula that extends into the Massachusetts Bay. The town traces its European settlement roots to the 1620s when small fishing villages were first set up in the area. As more settlers moved into the area, the developing community was considered a part of the previously-established Salem, MA. Marblehead incorporated in 1649 as an independent town, separate from Salem. It is this date/year that was to be celebrated with the coin.
In 1949, it had been over a decade since Congress had passed a coin bill for a city and its associated local event. In the then-current climate within Congress, a coin needed to clearly celebrate an event of national significance if it was to have any chance of being approved. So, when Representative George Joseph Bates (R-MA) introduced his very local Marblehead bill in May 1949, he couldn't have had very high hopes for its success.
The Marblehead bill sought up to 100,000 half dollars, but did not explicitly limit the coinage to a single Mint facility. The bill did contain language that could be interpreted as limiting the coin's mintage to 1949, but it did not specifically state such. In addition, the bill did not list a sponsor for the coin, though its language suggests that the coins were to be struck for the town itself. The bill also lacked the standard language regarding protecting the Government from incurring any costs related to the coins, as well as language pertaining to the rules for placing coin orders and selling the commemorative pieces. In short, the bill did not follow the precedents/guidelines set for such coin bills in the 1930s. Considering that Bates had been in the House of Representatives since 1937, I would have expected a bit more historical awareness on his part.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency, but was never reported out. Thus, the Marblehead, MA coin bill joined the long list of those that died for lack of action.
Note: Marblehead claims to be the birthplace of the US Navy - a claim also made by Beverly, MA, Whitehall, NY, Philadelphia, PA and Providence, RI. The roots of Marblehead's claim lie in the fact that residents of the town owned and crewed the schooner Hannah which was the first ship (1775) that George Washington ordered to be outfitted as a warship to harass British ships in the area. The outfitting of the ship was completed in Beverly, thus the competing claims. The five "birthplace" claims make for an interesting story, but beyond my scope here.
Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
05/20/2022 09:50 am