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Commems Collection: What If? 1951 New Castle, De Tercentenary

 
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 Posted 10/22/2019  1:39 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
In 1938, Delaware celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of its first European settlement. The Swedes and Finns came to the New World in 1638 on two ships, the Kalmar Nyckel and the Fogel Grip, and established a settlement on the banks of the Christina River in what is today Wilmington, DE. One of their first tasks was the construction of Ft. Christina (named in honor of the Queen of Sweden); with its construction, New Sweden was born. The Delaware Tercentenary Commission, the Governor-appointed group charged with planning and organizing the State's anniversary celebrations, sponsored legislation in the US Congress that called for a commemorative half dollar to help fund its operations/events. The Commission was successful in its efforts; the coin is well-known to collectors of the classic US commemorative series.

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Little more than a decade later, in 1951, Delaware again looked to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the establishment of a new settlement upon its shores. This time it was the arrival of the Dutch and their construction of Fort Casimir on the Delaware River under the direction of Peter Stuyvesant (of New Netherland and the Manhattan Island purchase fame). The building of the Fort Casimir settlement was the beginning of the moves by the Dutch against Sweden's control of the area.

The Swedes captured the fort in 1654, but the Dutch regained control of it in 1655. It remained in Dutch hands under the new name of Fort Amstel until the British seized it and other Delaware settlements in 1664; the British changed the name of the settlement to New Castle. During colonial times, New Castle hosted Delaware's legislature and, beginning in 1704, after Delaware separated from Pennsylvania, the city served as the seat of the colony's government. In later years, New Castle also served as Delaware's first state capital.

A bill proposing the striking of "50-cent pieces in commemoration of the three hundredth anniversary of the settlement of New Castle, Delaware" was introduced by Senator Joseph Frear, Jr. (D-DE) on January 19, 1950. Senator Frear's bill called for up to 50,000 coins of standard size, weight and composition with all of them to be dated "1951" even if they are struck in a different year. As the bill did not allow for coins to be struck after December 31, 1951, it would appear that the senator was giving the Mint the flexibility to strike the coins in 1950 if it so chose; a prudent move considering how early in 1950 he introduced the legislation.

The coin was sponsored by the New Castle Tercentenary Commission. The Commission was created by Joint Resolution of the Delaware General Assembly in 1949 "to help the people of New Castle and the State pay fitting tribute to the Dutch Founders." The Commission was the only group that could request the coins, and it had to do so in groups of at least 5,000 on or before December 31, 1951. As with other commemorative bills, the legislation allowed the Commission to sell the coins at a premium and use the proceeds for expenses associated with its "authorized functions."

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency but was never reported out or subject to a formal hearing. It died for lack of action. As no companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, the New Castle half dollar proposal experienced a quick and quiet death.

The lack of a commemorative coin did not stop the Commission from moving forward and completing its assignment. New Castle's 300th anniversary celebration was held on Saturday, June 16, 1951. The official program in New Castle included speeches from Paul R. Capelle, the mayor of New Castle, the governor of Delaware, Elbert N. Carvel and the Ambassador of Netherlands to the US, His Excellency J. H. van Roijen, among others during the morning session; a musical concert and historical pageant was presented in the afternoon.

I do not believe a privately-struck commemorative medal was produced for the celebration as I have not ever read of one or seen one either online or in person. (I'd be happy to be proven wrong, however!) In fact, the celebration appears to have been essentially devoid of commemorative souvenirs. Local papers even congratulated the Tercentenary Commission for not commercializing the celebration with a myriad of keepsakes. The only souvenir item I have in my collection for the event is the program for the celebration; I've presented images of the cover and a couple of interior pages below.

Hope you've enjoyed the read of another page in US commemorative coin history!





Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
10/22/2019 7:17 pm
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 Posted 10/22/2019  6:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add moxking to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Always appreciate your time in providing wonderful commemorative information that I ALWAYS learn from.

But don't be all classic only. After I finished my classic set I decided I loved the challenge of the modern commemorative issues too.

Been at it hard this year and I'm amazed by the beauty of many that are as good as many of the classic. I had no intention of breaking my no post 1964 edict, but I'm glad I did.

Not nearly as boring as 900 varieties of the Lincoln cent
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 Posted 10/22/2019  7:24 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@moxking: I haven't forgotten the modern series...I have a complete set of the modern commemoratives in BU and have enjoyed assembling the set.

Someday, I will spend more time writing about them - I do have one story in the works at present, it should surface here on CCF next week. For now, however, my writing focus is on the classic series.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
10/22/2019 7:27 pm
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 Posted 10/22/2019  9:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add HGK3 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Commems,

As a New Castle boy born and raised I was pleased as punch to read your story. Your Delaware Commemorative is gorgeous and I'm not sure whether I'm lusting or coveting (or both) right now.

I also have a copy of that program buried somewhere with all my other New Castle paraphernalia.

I had never heard there was even a discussion of a commemorative coin.

Thanks for sharing!
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 Posted 10/22/2019  9:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CelticKnot to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I lived in New Castle for a number of years and am a graduate of the University of Delaware so this is fascinating stuff to me. Thank you for a glimpse into the history of the state I once called home (I now live in a state in which 100+ Delawares would comfortably fit).

And I agree with my DE brethren HGK3 that your 50c is lovely.
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 Posted 10/23/2019  09:18 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Another classic @Commems piece. Thank you for your thought-provoking articles.
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 Posted 10/27/2019  1:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@All:

Thanks for the kind and supportive feedback. I'm glad I was able to offer a "local" story for some!

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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