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Commems Collection: 1936 Bay Bridge Half Dollar - A Distant Cousin

 
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 Posted 05/29/2020  3:29 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Those who have been part of the US Commemoratives area of CCF for a few years may recall that I enjoy adding items to my collection that are related to the commemorative coins I collect - I refer to them as cousins. Most often, the pieces I add are medals, brochures and/or coin holders issued by the same organization as the coin itself. While recently poking around the internet, however, I came across a coin that was previously unknown to me but, visually, seemed instantly familiar. After a second or two, I recognized its similarity to the 1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge half dollar. A definite cousin, but a distant one for sure! Though issued roughly 30 years apart and by two different countries, it turns our that the two coins do have links to each other.

The coin in question is from Portugal. It is a silver 20 escudos piece that was issued in 1966 to commemorate the opening of the Salazar Bridge; construction on the bridge began in 1962. The bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the Tagus River and links Lisbon (the capital of Portugal) on the river's north bank with Almada on its south.

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One look at the coin caused me to immediately think of the Bay Bridge commemorative half dollar of 1936. The length-wise perspective used to present the bridge depicted on the Portuguese coin, while from the opposite side, is reminiscent of the Bay Bridge coin as is the design of the bridge's support towers. The towers on each bridge each have three "X" braces above the roadway and two below it.

I've read on multiple online sites how the Portuguese bridge is similar to the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. I guess the link has been made because both are painted an orange-red, but the physical attributes of the support towers of each are very different. Maybe because I saw the bridge depicted in silver on a coin vs. orange-red in a photograph, the Golden Gate Bridge never entered my thinking. I thought instantly that the Salazar Bridge resembled the suspension portion of the original SF-Oakland Bay Bridge as seen on the 1936 Bay Bridge half dollar.

The similar bridge design isn't much of a surprise considering that the American Bridge Company built the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge as well as the Salazar bridge; the company did not build the Golden Gate Bridge.

At the time of its opening in 1966, the Portuguese bridge was named in honor of António de Oliveira Salazar, the Portuguese Prime Minister from 1932 to 1968; he left office in 1968 due to his failing health and died in 1970 at the age of 81. Salazar was the primary architect of Portugal's Estado Novo ("New State"), which came to power in 1933. It was an authoritarian, facist government which was overseen by Salazar (the Portuguese president at the time was largely a figurehead position); Salazar ran Portugal as a dictator.

(Salazar's history and story is an interesting one, but I'll leave it to those with interest in a detailed history to search the internet for more information about him.)

The name of the Salazar Bridge was changed to the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge in recognition of the successful Carnation Revolution which began with a military coup on April 25, 1974 and an overthrow of the Estado Nuevo regime that remained in power after Salazar's retirement and subsequent death.

The Portuguese coin is 30 millimeters in diameter, has a weight of 10 grams and was struck on a silver planchet of 0.650 fineness. In comparison, a US classic commemorative half dollar has a diameter of 30.6 mm, a weight of 12.5 grams and was struck on a silver planchet that was 0.900 fine. So, the Portuguese coin is a bit smaller and lighter than the US comparison coin. The coin was designed by Jaime Martins Barata; it was modeled/sculpted by Marcelino Norte de Almeida.

There are many ways to find links to the classic US commemorative coin series that will inspire expanded collecting. a shared appearance, a shared construction company and a shared design aesthetic were enough for me to add an inexpensive Portuguese bridge commemorative coin to my collection! (And write about it for CCF!)

Following are images of the Portuguese coin and the Bay Bridge half dollar that are in my collection. Do you see the similarities that I see?







Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 05/29/2020  4:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The two bridges definitely look similar to one another.

I especially like the reverse of the Portuguese coin. Looks like they brought the steel girder motif over. The numerals and fleur de lis are interesting with their "facets."

Thanks for another interesting post.
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 Posted 05/29/2020  4:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting as always, and thank you!
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 Posted 05/29/2020  6:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Alpha2814 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Now I want that coin! The similarities are striking, but given the timing and circumstances it's not all that surprising.

And today I learned that the Golden Gate Bridge and the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge were both built at almost exactly the same time. You'd think I'd know that, having seen at least one of them just about every day for the last 25 years (when I'm not quarantined in the basement) but here we are.
Working on: Indian quarter eagles, Chinese pandas, and San Francisco tokens; upgrading my Peace dollar and US Type sets

"Fear is the enemy of will. Will is what makes you take action; fear is what stops you, and makes you weak."
-- Sinestro to (my avatar) Hal Jordan, "Green Lantern" (2011)
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 Posted 05/30/2020  02:15 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CelticKnot to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Who else feels like they've just exited a Numismatics 405 lecture after reading one of commems' posts? And I of course mean that in good way.

I just checked ebay and these Salazar coins are available in many conditions for those interested.
Edited by CelticKnot
05/30/2020 02:18 am
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 Posted 05/30/2020  02:29 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Alpha2814 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Got one!
Working on: Indian quarter eagles, Chinese pandas, and San Francisco tokens; upgrading my Peace dollar and US Type sets

"Fear is the enemy of will. Will is what makes you take action; fear is what stops you, and makes you weak."
-- Sinestro to (my avatar) Hal Jordan, "Green Lantern" (2011)
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 Posted 05/30/2020  10:32 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Greasy Fingers to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
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 Posted 05/31/2020  12:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks to all for the positive feedback. My goal in posting is always to educate, so I'm always happy to read that folks enjoy what I present and learn from it!

@Alpha2814: Glad you found one you liked!

@CelticKnot: Get ready for the final exam!


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 06/01/2020  9:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Greasy Fingers to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
After nearly all your write-ups I feel the need to buy the coin and remember the history lesson...Thanks
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 Posted 06/04/2020  12:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
After nearly all your write-ups I feel the need to buy the coin and remember the history lesson...Thanks

You're very welcome! You've made me smile! I can ask for nothing more!

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