I was going through some of my collection recently and I came across a number of ephemera items for the classic US commemorative coin series that I don't believe I've presented before. So, I thought I'd prepare a few posts on them.
Tonight, I'm showing an invitation that was used by the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial, Inc. to directly promote / sell the BTW half dollar. It was mailed directly to potential coin buyers / supporters with the hope (expectation?) that those receiving it would gladly keep the coin and send in a contribution via return mail. The Birthplace Memorial was selling the coins for $1 each at the time, so it's likely they expected at least that much from each person who kept the coin and sent a donation.
Before I continue, if you'd like to read my earlier posts on the Booker T. Washington commemorative half dollar, you can view my original post here
and my two ephemera follow-up posts here - Bebee's Envelope
and here - Gems of Wisdom
Getting back to the invitation...
The mailer invites the recipient "to participate in the work of perpetuating the Ideals and Teachings of BOOKER TALIAFERO WASHINGTON." One of the interesting aspects of the invitation is that it does not include a specific request for payment regarding its enclosed coin. It does express the hope "that in appreciation of his great contribution, all groups and individuals will join hands to carry this program to a successful goal" and references a "contribution to this worthy cause" but it makes no specific request for payment on the half dollar. FYI: A half dollar in 1947 would be equivalent to a face value of about $5.75 in 2020 - an amount large enough to notice.
My example came with a 1946 example of the coin that was minted at the Philadelphia Mint. The postmark on the envelope is incomplete, which prevents me from reading the year. "Nov 13" is easily discernible, however, and that leads me to believe the invitation was mailed in 1947 as November 13 was a Thursday in 1947 (a business day) and a weekend day in 1948 (Saturday) and 1949 (Sunday). It couldn't have been sent in 1946 as the coins were not struck by the Mint until December 1946!
The Memorial originally attempted to sell its coins on its own, but slow sales prompted it to get Bebee's and Stack's involved in the coin's distribution beginning in early 1947 - the arrangements were non-exclusive. The Birthplace Memorial continued to promote the coins directly, however; this invitation was one vehicle they used.
The invitation was printed on one side of a sheet of paper and then folded twice to create a four panel mailer. An example of the coin was taped to the inner right panel; the outline of the half dollar and remnants of the tape used can be seen in the image below. The folded size of the invitation is 3-15/16" wide by 4-7/8" tall. Unfolded, the paper sheet measures 7-7/8" wide by 9-3/4" tall.
The printing is not well-centered on any of the panels with the exception of the inner left. The core message of the invitation, under the signature of the BTW Birthplace Memorial President, S. J. Phillips, is reasonably well centered on its inner panel.
The mailing envelope was addressed to a recipient on East 18th Street in New York City; it originated from the Memorial's Fifth Avenue office in NYC; the distance between the two addresses is less than a mile. FYI: The circa 1947 buildings at both addresses still exist; both are currently apartment buildings.
The piece is certainly not in pristine shape, but, when I encountered it back in 2017, it was the first time I had seen the invitation and figured it would likely be quite some time before I saw another. So, I made the purchase and treat the piece gingerly whenever I take it out of its protective sleeve. I have not seen another offered for sale, though I'm sure others exist.
The 1946 BTW half dollar that came with the invitation appears to be wholly original and the one that was mailed in 1947. As would be expected from long-term storage in the invitation, the area of the coin that was originally covered by tape is largely untoned, while the balance of the obverse and reverse, the areas that were in contact with the paper invitation, are fully toned. If submitted to a reputable third-party grading service, the coin's past direct contact with tape might result in a "Details" grade, but my plans for the coin do not include sending it in for grading so I will never know. I believe the coin was conserved with acetone at some point, as it no longer has any visible tape remnants.
Hope you enjoyed my look back at a bit of BTW ephemera!Booker T. Washington Invitation - UnfoldedBooker T. Washington Invitation - Outer PanelsBooker T. Washington Invitation - Inner PanelsBooker T. Washington Invitation - Fully FoldedBooker T. Washington Invitation - Mailing Envelope - FrontBooker T. Washington Invitation - Mailing Envelope - BackBooker T. Washington Invitation Half Dollar - ObverseBooker T. Washington Invitation Half Dollar - Reverse
Here are images of the coin in my core collection: