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Commems Collection: Official Seals On Classic US Commemoratives - Part II

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 Posted 02/23/2021  6:37 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Continuing my look at classic US commemorative coins that feature a Coat-of-Arms or Seal...

2. 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial

On March 15, 1820 Maine became the 23rd state to be admitted into the Union. In 1920, Maine celebrated its centennial of Statehood with commemorative events staged from June 26th through July 5th 1920; the Maine Centennial Committee was in charge of organizing the celebration.

The official State-level celebration took place in Portland, ME, though dozens of cities and towns across the state held centennial events during the year.

The Maine Centennial Exposition opened on Saturday, June 26 in the Portland Exposition Building and ran for the duration of the celebration; the objective of the Exposition was to "show goods made and sold in the State of Maine." The ten-day celebration also included multiple parades and fireworks shows, music programs, an "Indian Village," warships of the US and Allies, services at multiple churches across the city and various athletic events.

As a means to help defray the expense of staging its celebration, the Centennial Committee sponsored a commemorative half dollar that it had planned to sell at the event. Unfortunately, the coins did not arrive from the Mint in time, so they were sold afterward by the State Treasurer.

The coin depicts a version of the Maine State Seal on its obverse. From the web page of the Secretary of State, State of Maine:

Maine State Seal

The seal of the State shall be a shield, argent, charged with a pine tree (americana, quinis ex uno folliculo setis) with a moose (cervus alces), at the foot of it, recumbent; supporters: on dexter side, a husbandman, resting on a scythe; on sinister side, a seaman, resting on an anchor.

In the foreground, representing sea and land, and under the shield, shall be the name of the State in large Roman capitals, to wit:


The whole shall be surrounded by a crest, the North Star. The motto, in small Roman capitals, shall be in a label interposed between the shield and crest, viz.: -- DIRIGO.

1920 Maine Statehood Centennial Half Dollar

Comparing the illustration of the Seal to its depiction on the coin, I would say that Anthony de Francisci modeled a very faithful rendition of the Seal, the primary difference being the omission of much of the forest behind the pine tree.

I've previously posted about the Maine Half Dollar:

- 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial
- 1920 Maine Statehood Centennial - Revisited

3. 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial

Alabama joined the Union on December 14, 1819 as the 22nd state. The Alabama Centennial Commission was created by the Alabama State Legislature, with its authorizing bill being signed into law by Governor Thomas Kilby on February 17, 1919. The Commission was "charged with the duty of providing for appropriate commemorative exercises throughout the State, so planned as to arouse a greater pride in our history, and to stimulate citizenship to higher patriotic ideals." IMO, creating a Centennial Commission in February of the actual centennial year was such a late effort that it gave the Commission little time to fully develop the ideas of how best to celebrate Alabama's anniversary.

The Commission was, however, able to respond quickly and publish several plays about Alabama history (in distinct versions for adult production and children's productions), craft and distribute an "Alabama Day Program" for use in schools on Alabama Day (December 14, 1919) and conduct general promotion of the State's Centennial.

Some of the Commission's work extended beyond 1919. Prime example: the Alabama Statehood Centennial Half Dollar. The bill proposing the coin (initially as a 25-cent piece) was not introduced into the US Congress until February 28, 1920 and the half dollar coins were not delivered to the Commission by the US Mint until October 1921.

I've covered the coin's draft designs in other posts (see below), but, ultimately. the reverse design that was selected presents a slightly modified version of the Great Seal of Alabama that was in use at the time of the coin's issue. The Seal had been adopted in 1868 and was replaced in 1939.

Here's the Seal as it looked in 1919 during the state's centennial:

From Act 133 of the 1868 General Assembly of Alabama:

That the governor be, and he is hereby authorized and directed, as soon as practicable after the passage of this act, to have prepared a seal, which shall be known as the "great seal of the State," and which Seal, shall be of the following character: The seal shall be circular and the diameter thereof two and a quarter (2-1/4) inches. Near the edge of the circle shall be the word " Alabama," and opposite this word at the same distance from the edge shall be the words, "Great Seal." In the centre of the seal there shall be a representation of an eagle and a shield, and upon such part of the seal as the governor may direct there shall be the words, "Here we rest."

I think it's clear the "Here we rest" quote in combination with the eagle perched on the Federal (Union) shield was a clear signal, in 1868, that Alabama considered the Confederacy its past and the Union its future.

1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial Half Dollar

Comparing the Seal illustration to the coin's depiction of it, differences can be seen in the orientation of the eagle's head, neck and wings plus there are differences in the shield. All-in-all, however, I believe the coin is faithful to the original.

I've previously posted about the Alabama Half Dollar:

- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial, Plain Variety
- 1921 Alabama Statehood Centennial, 2x2 Variety
- What If? A 1921 Alabama Quarter
- US Commemorative Coin Series: Quick Bits #8 - Monroe-Wilson Alabama Half

Up next, the 1934 Maryland Tercentenary and the 1936 Norfolk Bicentennial/Tricentennial half dollars.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 02/23/2021  6:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great pics and great backstories as always.
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 Posted 02/24/2021  04:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wonderful information commems. Thank you for sharing the research.
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