Coin Community Family of Web Sites
Like us on Facebook! Subscribe to our Youtube Channel! Check out our Twitter! Check out our Pinterest!
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?


Welcome Guest! Need help? Got a question? Inherit some coins?
Our coin forum is completely free! Register Now!

Commems Collection: 1925 Stone Mountain - Seeing Stars

Next Page | Last 15 Replies
 
To participate in the forum you must log in or register.
Author Previous TopicReplies: 17 / Views: 626Next Topic
Page: of 2
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
5715 Posts
 Posted 04/13/2021  08:19 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
The 1925 Stone Mountain Half Dollar has one of the more intriguing stories within the classic US commemorative series in terms of its "starry nature." It has stars on the obverse and reverse, though they are symbolic of very different - but related - things.

On the obverse of the half dollar are 13 stars . Do you think they represent the 13 original colonies? OR The 13 states that seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy? If you said the latter, you would be correct!

The 13 obverse stars represent the 11 states that officially and w/o question seceded from the Union at the the start of the Civil War: South Carolina, Mississippi. Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. Also represented are Kentucky and Missouri. These last two can be debated, however, as each had two governments that claimed to represent the state - one that sided with the Union and one that sided with the Confederacy. An article of secession was issued by the pro-Confederacy government in each state, but these governments were not recognized as legitimate by the US Congress and thus it never considered the states to have seceded. The final Confederate flags - National and Battle - each include the two states, however, and incorporate 13 stars in recognition.

Turning to the reverse...

Photographs taken of an early version of the models Gutzon Borglum prepared for the Stone Mountain half dollar show that he incorporated 36 stars into its reverse. It's been said that the stars represented the 36 states that were in the Union at the end of the Civil War (CW). Depending on how you count the states that seceded and were not yet re-admitted at the War's end, you may or may not concur with that number.

Borglum's Early Models, Rejected by Commission of Fine Arts



By the time Southern forces attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12. 1861, seven states had already seceded; within three months after, four more seceded. Before the secession articles, the US was comprised of 34 states. After the eleven states officially seceded, the Union total was effectively reduced to 23 (though some still consider the number to be 34). During the War, West Virginia and Nevada became states in the Union. So, depending on your perspective, the number of States in the Union when the Civil War ended ranges from 25 to 36. By mid-1870, all of the Confederate states had been formally readmitted and Nebraska had been added as a new state - the Union states count was thus an unarguable 37.

All that said, if you count the number of stars on the reverse of a well-struck Stone Mountain coin, you will complete your count at 35 - you will likely see fewer on a weakly struck coin. It appears one star got lost somewhere between Borglum's preliminary models and final models. (Borglum was forced into making changes to his models based on initial criticism and rejection by the Commission of Fine Arts [CFA].)

Note: It's important to realize that multiple of the stars on the reverse of a Stone Mountain half dollar are difficult/near impossible to discern on coins with weaker strikes - some just disappear! So, when looking for a well-struck example for your collection, don't forget to examine the reverse with an eye toward counting the stars!

A total of 35 stars is symbolically inaccurate. The stars are not representative of the number of states at the start of the CW - that number is 34. It's not the number of states that were in the Union at the time the last of the Confederate states was officially readmitted - that number is 37. It's also not the number of states that made up the Union on the day the War formally ended, assuming (incorrectly) the immediate and automatic readmission of all Confederate states - that number is 36.

So, 35 is "meaningless" in terms of symbolic representation. I can't help but wonder if Borglum purposefully reduced the number of stars below his original accurate total of 36 as a silent and subtle jab at the CFA as payback for the hard time they gave him about his coin design and its models. Considering his behavior against the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association - he destroyed the models of the mountain memorial on his way out the door after fighting bitterly with the Association and then being fired by them - I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the dropping of a star from the design to lessen its accuracy was premeditated. Of course, that it is pure speculation on my part; it could also have been a simple oversight.

But, even if incorrect in number, the symbolism of the stars on the reverse of the Stone Mountain half dollar was rooted in representing the Union in whole vs. splintered. Such a design serves as a positive counterpart to the 13 stars on the coin's obverse which are symbolic of the Confederate States (including Kentucky and Missouri) that seceded from the Union. In my eyes, the meaning and symbolism of the reverse stars remain even if the final design execution is off by a star!

1925 Stone Mountain Half Dollar





I've posted several times about the 1925 Stone Mountain half dollar, you can find them, and other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, here: Read More: Commems Collection.

For a discussion of the Borglum models presented above, see: Harding and the Stone Mountain Half Dollar.


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
04/13/2021 08:28 am
Bedrock of the Community
Learn More...
United States
56945 Posts
 Posted 04/13/2021  09:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great write-up, thanks as always.
Moderator
Learn More...
United States
99412 Posts
Valued Member
Learn More...
United States
196 Posts
 Posted 04/13/2021  5:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Winesteven to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems, YOU'RE the real "STAR"!
A day without fine wine and working on your coin collection is like a day without sunshine!

My collecting "Pride & Joy" is my PCGS Registry Dansco 7070 Set:
https://www.PCGS.com/setregistry/ty...edset/213996
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
5715 Posts
 Posted 04/14/2021  4:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Winesteven: Thank you! You're very kind.

@Coinfrog & jbuck: Thanks for stopping by and leaving positive feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Pillar of the Community
United States
1802 Posts
 Posted 04/14/2021  5:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bump111 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I enjoy the "Deep Dive" you always provide. Makes our hobby even more interesting! Thanks.
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
1710 Posts
 Posted 04/14/2021  5:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add southsav to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks commems for another great numismatic history lesson.

This was one of my first commemorative coins added to my collection.

.
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
7081 Posts
 Posted 04/14/2021  6:32 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As always commems I send along my enthusiastic acknowledgment of your tremendous contributions, elegant writing style and depth of knowledge that you regularly share with us.

Thank you for all of the contributions.

I will note that by chance at a coin show likely 15 years ago I happened to come across a Stone Mountain half in well worn state - purchased it, and over time developed a collection of circulated classic silver commemorative.

This Stone Mountain half was indeed the coin that got me started on that pursuit.

Hopefully adding some alternatie context to your thread:

1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar - PCGS PO01

Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
Edited by nickelsearcher
04/14/2021 6:33 pm
Bedrock of the Community
Learn More...
United States
56945 Posts
 Posted 04/14/2021  7:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That's truly an amazing specimen. I wouldn't really want to own it, price aside, but it's something to marvel at for sure.
Edited by Coinfrog
04/14/2021 7:06 pm
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
5715 Posts
 Posted 04/14/2021  7:25 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Bump111 & southsav: Thanks for positive feedback. Always appreciated!

@nickelsearcher: Thanks for supplementing the thread by adding images of your well-worn Stone Mountain and the story of how it came to be part of your collection.

If I look at it while squinting, I think I see the remnants of one star on each side. Obviously, Borglum designed it that way so that one star on each side of well-worn examples would remain to represent the two opposing sides in the Civil War!




Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Moderator
Learn More...
United States
99412 Posts
 Posted 04/15/2021  11:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Hopefully adding some alternatie context to your thread: 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar - PCGS PO01
Smooth!


Quote:
Obviously, Borglum designed it that way so that one star on each side of well-worn examples would remain to represent the two opposing sides in the Civil War!
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
1986 Posts
 Posted 04/17/2021  1:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add fortcollins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems, Fantastic write-up! I remember hearing a theory on the 35 stars at a coin club meeting eons ago. The argument made back then was that the Arts Commission intended the 35 reverse stars to be counted along with the 13 obverse stars, for a total of 48, matching the number of states in 1925, at issuance. If so, that was a subtle way of saying the 13 obverse stars represented the 13 original colonies, rather than the 11 states that seceded and two (Kentucky and Missouri) that had competing state governments during the war. James Earle Fraser was on the Arts Commission, did not at all like Borglum, and did not want to honor the rebels.

As far as I know, there is no evidence to back up that reading, but it's the story I heard years ago.
Pillar of the Community
Learn More...
United States
5715 Posts
 Posted 04/17/2021  8:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@fortcollins: First, thanks for the kind words! Second, I wasn't aware of that theory before reading your post, but it was actually something I wondered about as I tallied the overall number of stars on the coin.

I ultimately decided that it made sense to consider the stars on each side as individual groups vs. two parts of a whole, however. So, that's how I crafted my post. I did so using the following lines of thought:

- if the 13 stars on the obverse represented the Confederate states, they were a very strong tie-in to the depiction of the Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson (i.e., they fit in with a strong Confederate theme on the obverse).

- the symbolic use of stars (or other devices) is most often tied to the time of the event being commemorated (e.g., 22 stars on the Alabama Statehood coin, 24 stars on the Missouri Statehood half dollar, 29 stars on the Iowa Statehood half dollar, etc.) vs. a future date. As the coin's commemorative theme was connected to the time of the Civil War, including a group of stars to represent the states in the Union at that time seemed very plausible.

- Borglum initially included a number of stars (36) that could be justified as representative of the number of states at the CW's conclusion - the loss of one star (for the reasons I noted above) would not be beyond reason.


All that said, your theory makes enough sense to me to make me want to dig a little deeper to determine if I can find supporting evidence for one theory or the other (or something completely different!).


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Valued Member
Learn More...
United States
196 Posts
 Posted 04/17/2021  9:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Winesteven to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems, I like the way you think.
A day without fine wine and working on your coin collection is like a day without sunshine!

My collecting "Pride & Joy" is my PCGS Registry Dansco 7070 Set:
https://www.PCGS.com/setregistry/ty...edset/213996
Moderator
Learn More...
United States
99412 Posts
 Posted 04/17/2021  11:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That is a fascinating alternate theory! I look forward to seeing what commems can dig up on that.
Valued Member
United States
138 Posts
 Posted 04/18/2021  03:20 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Reedbeard08 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
This is the coin that started me looking into commemoratives, so thank you much for the extensive information into it!

I'm kind of enjoying the idea of lowballer commemorative collection, nickelsearcher....
Page: of 2 Previous TopicReplies: 17 / Views: 626Next Topic  
 
To participate in the forum you must log in or register.





Disclaimer: While a tremendous amount of effort goes into ensuring the accuracy of the information contained in this site, Coin Community assumes no liability for errors. Copyright 2005 - 2021 Coin Community Family- all rights reserved worldwide. Use of any images or content on this website without prior written permission of Coin Community or the original lender is strictly prohibited.
Contact Us  |  Advertise Here  |  Privacy Policy / Terms of Use

Coin Community Forum © 2005 - 2021 Coin Community Forums
It took 0.49 seconds to rattle this change. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.05