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Commems Collection: 1936 Bridgeport Centennial

 
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 Posted 05/09/2012  8:21 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Tonight we take a look at the "Bridgeport," a commemorative half-dollar struck to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The coin is presented via an example in PCGS MS-66.

Bridgeport is located at the mouth of the Pequonnock River in southwestern Connecticut, along the Long Island Sound. The city can trace its roots back far more than the 100 years being celebrated with the half-dollar, with English settlers known to be in the area as early as 1639. Land for the settlement was acquired from the local Pequonnock Native Americans. The settled area underwent several name changes as it grew over the years: originally Pequonnock, the name was changed to Fairfield, then Stratfield, then Newfield and then Bridgeport. Bridgeport began as a borough, grew into a township and ultimately, in 1836, was incorporated as a city.

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The Bridgeport commemorative was designed by Henry Kreiss, who also designed the Connecticut Tercentenary half-dollar. The obverse features a left-facing portrait of Bridgeport's most famous resident, Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum, while the reverse depicts what continues to the present day to be considered the most "modernistic" eagle displayed on a US coin. Kreiss' final designs did not undergo significant change from his initial sketches, though the inscriptions "In God We Trust" and "Liberty" were moved from the obverse to the reverse and "Connecticut" was spelled out on the final models vs. its original abbreviation "Conn". These changes were made at the suggestion of the Commission of Fine Arts.

Barnum, at one time the mayor of Bridgeport, was many things in his lifetime. Though he was a successful politician and generous philanthropist, he is most known for his endeavors as a showman/entertainer and being the founder of a circus that through merger with another show would ultimately become the "Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus." It's interesting to note that Barnum came to the circus business late in life; he was 61 years old at the time he started.

The net mintage of the Bridgeport is 25,000 coins (all struck at Philadelphia). The law authorizing the coin did not limit its total mintage, nor did it limit its striking to 1936. Fortunately for today's collector, contemporary sales of the coin did require the Centennial Commission to order any coins beyond its initial production.

The coin shown is (say it with me!) a brilliant, white example with nice luster on both sides. My scanner is turning the slightest bit of golden toning on the reverse into tan areas on the image -- such areas are not visible when the coin is in hand.

The coin was mailed to out-of-state collectors in either one-coin or three-coin blue and gold boxes; in-state folks could buy the coin (up to 5) at their local bank. I've included images of each box below. A pageant was held in Bridgeport as part of the centennial celebrations, it was titled "Echoes of a Century." I've included images of the cover and title page from the pageant's program.

Enjoy!


1936 Bridgeport Centennial -- Obverse




1936 Bridgeport Centennial -- Reverse




1936 Bridgeport Centennial Original Mailing Box, One-Coin -- Cover




1936 Bridgeport Centennial Original Mailing Box, One-Coin -- Interior




1936 Bridgeport Centennial Original Mailing Box, Three-Coin -- Cover




1936 Bridgeport Centennial Original Mailing Box, Three-Coin -- Interior




"Echoes of a Century" Program -- Cover




"Echoes of a Century" Program -- Title Page


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 05/09/2012  9:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add joshkellogg to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I was born in Bridgeport, and grew up there, and in the next town over, Stratford. This is now one of my favorite commemoratives. It's a shame that Bridgeport, like many other post industrial cities, has deteriorated in the way it has. It wasn't great when I was young, and I've watched it go from bad to worse (and I'm only 22). Still, I love the city and I love that half. Thanks for the post!
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 Posted 05/10/2012  12:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TreeMonkey to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:

The Bridgeport commemorative was designed by Henry Kreiss, who also designed the Connecticut Tercentenary half-dollar.


No wonder I like it so much! The bird is so cool.

You have made a amazing contribution to this forum.
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 Posted 05/10/2012  09:03 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add wquinn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It is plain and simple, but still a nice commem. My mother was born there and I was too, but I grew up in Milford, just a little ways away. Bridgeport was a great city in the 1970s and earlier. I graduated from UB in 1988 and it was deteriorated way back then. Crime was pretty bad around campus.

I've been to Beardsley park and they have a nice little zoo there. I've even taken the ferry from there to Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY a few times.

I need to buy this commem. How are the prices on them for a low end (MS-63 or so) BU coin?
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 Posted 05/10/2012  11:27 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Beautiful. As always, I love seeing the additional material.
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 Posted 05/10/2012  4:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Moe145 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fantastic history lesson and amazing coin! Thank you!!
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 Posted 05/10/2012  9:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Lovely example commems ... not only a lofty technical grade .. but also appears to be very well struck.

MS Bridgeport in my experience are often found with muted luster ... likely repeated dippings ... your bright white and full luster example is a true quality coin.

I can appreciate and value the time and diligent effort it took to find this coin ... and the same for most of your set.

I'm a big fan of the art-deco Eagle on the reverse ... Kreiss knew how to design eagles.

Important to note that this coin ... commemorating an event of minor local significance ... was distributed at the peak of collector abuse in 1936 ...

Collectors of that time had to consider PT Barnum famous expression ... There is a Sucker born every minute.

Thanks for sharing commems.

David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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