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Commems Collection: What If? 1937 York County, Maine

 
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 Posted 11/01/2020  5:41 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
In March 1937, the Committee for the Commemoration of the Founding of York County (aka, the York Country Tercentenary Commemorative Coin Commission) attempted to secure a new, second coin for its commemorative program. Of course, history tells us that they failed. but they did try!

The original York Country Tercentenary authorization allowed for up to 30,000 50-cent pieces to be struck at a single US Mint facility. The Mint struck 25,000 coins (plus a handful for assay purposes) in August of 1936. About 15,000 were sold to Maine residents and another 4,000 or so to non-residents via mail order. As it completed the tercentenary year and entered 1937, the Committee had roughly 6,000 coins still available and was faced with a very quiet market for them.

Following in the footsteps of other coin sponsors, the Committee decided that creating a new variety of its coin would be just what was needed to reinvigorate sales. The original legislation for the coin limited its striking and dating to "1936," so new legislation would be needed for the Committee to realize its vision.

So, it arranged for companion bills to be introduced in the House and Senate in March 1937 that would have allowed them to request from the Mint a new striking of coins with a "1937" date. The coins would be struck from a combination of the 5,000 coins that were not struck under the original legislation, along with those coins already struck and dated "1936" but not yet distributed by the Committee; presumably, the Committee would return to the Mint a large portion of the un-issued coins it was holding so that the Mint could melt them and use the resulting silver bullion to strike new coins. My guess is that the Committee would have worked toward a mintage of 10,000 1937-dated coins.

Considering the coin already had the commemorative dual dates of "1636 / 1936" on its obverse, and presumably would have been kept them on any new coins struck, it would have been interesting to see where the Mint placed the required "1937" figure on the coin. The only open landscape on the coin's obverse is above the shield. Walter H. Rich, the coin's designer, used this location in his original drawings for the coin to "double down" on the year of York County's founding by placing "1636" on a small ribbon. (See image below.) The ribbon was removed on the recommendation of the Commission of Fine Arts before the final design was approved and struck. It would seem reasonable to assume the same location would have been selected for the "1937" year-of-issue date - but we'll never know for sure!


Image of the original design for the York County Half Dollar presented in the 1937 Annual Report of the Director of the Mint.

Each of the bills was referred to the appropriate House or Senate committee, but neither was ever reported out for further action. The Senate bill was included on the agenda of a Hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on Banking and Currency, but it never came up for discussion as the focus of the Hearing quickly became one of reforming the US commemorative coin process to replace coins with medals.

So, the York Coin Committee did not get its new coins and it wound up holding on to its unsold 1936-dated coins for years afterwards. For me, one York County half dollar was enough. It commemorated a local event vs. a national one, and, at that, was definitely among the more obscure events to be commemorated during the series. IMO, the Committee was lucky to get the first coin!

Would you have been a buyer back in 1937?


To view more of my posts about US commemorative coins: Commems Collection


Here's one of the York County pieces in my collection (one day I'll post about how I came to have three!):







Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
11/01/2020 8:18 pm
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 Posted 11/01/2020  5:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good backstory as always. Not one of my favorite designs - that fort looks like something I played with as a child.
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 Posted 11/01/2020  6:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
That fort looks like something I played with as a child.

Here's Walter Rich's source material for his design - a woodcut of Brown's Garrison published in 1931 in The Proprietors of Saco which was privately printed by York National Bank of Saco, Maine; the booklet was written by Frank Cutter Deering. I can't attest to the depiction's accuracy, however.

The coin's view of the garrison is definitely more crowded than the original illustration - and where's the gate on the coin!? (it's there, just far less obvious.)



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
11/01/2020 8:19 pm
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 Posted 11/01/2020  9:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Would you have been a buyer back in 1937?


Probably not then as it sounds like the market for the '36 was appropriately soft, but I have picked up a bit of Maine-related exonumia and numismatic odds and ends over the years. I look forward to someday hearing why you have three of these guys.
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
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"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz

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 Posted 11/03/2020  06:31 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add scopru to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great example and wonderful information along with it as always. Thanks commems
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My Want list: http://goccf.com/t/188411
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 Posted 11/13/2020  5:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Nells250 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yo-waahk Maine? Eyaah! Missed getting up there this year thanks to their travel ban for those of us from Massachusetts. Have to say, though, the design does NOTHING for me...
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