As we celebrate the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I thought I'd offer a brief post on the coins that depict the building were it all took place.
One of the most recognizable buildings in the US is Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Often referred to as the birthplace of America, the building was host to some of the most important moments in US history. It bore witness to the debates of the Second Continental Congress as it wrestled over the scope and wording of the Declaration of Independence
(as well as the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the US' first attempt at a "national" constitution). It also hosted the delegates of the 1787 Constitutional Convention and watched over them as they worked to create the US Constitution
- a document that continues to serve as the "law of the land" and under which the US continues to operate.
Depictions of Independence Hall on commemorative medals became popular as the US Centennial approached in 1876; numerous privately-struck medals were produced showing either a southern or northern view of the building. The Hall was once again a popular design element on souvenir medals during the years leading up to the US bicentennial in 1976. Shown here is a silver medal struck by the US Mint in 1976 for the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration (ARBA). It features a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and a close-up view of Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence
with a quill pen on the reverse; Independence Hall is seen in the background.
To date, Independence Hall has been used as a major design element on two US commemorative coins. Each was issued to mark a milestone anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independence
: the 1926 gold quarter eagle ($2.50) struck to mark the 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial), and the 1976 half dollar that was released to help celebrate the 200th anniversary (bicentennial).
The gold coin was designed and engraved by John Ray Sinnock, the eighth Chief Engraver of the US Mint. The 1976 half dollar was designed by Seth G Huntington whose design was selected from entries in a national competition; the design was engraved for coining by Frank Gasparro
Both coins present a reasonably accurate depiction of the southern entrance to Independence Hall (the side on which the 168-foot tall Bell Tower is a prominent feature), though neither is completely accurate in its finer details. For example, Sinnock's version more accurately depicts the Hall as a building that is connected to others as he includes portions of the two arcades that extend from either side of the building to its east and west wings (a view I prefer), but Huntington's design more accurately captures the wooden balustrade that extends between the chimney's at each end of the building.
Both coins are terrific souvenirs of one of the most important and historic sites in the US. I hope you consider one or the other for your collection!
Happy July 4th! (Now it's time for some barbeque!)Images courtesy of PCGS CoinFactsRead More: Commems Collection