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Commems Collection: 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial - Warren Gamaliel Harding Memorial

 
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 Posted 01/28/2022  09:12 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've written before about how the Act that authorized the 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar included language that not only referred to its intended commemoration of the start of the Stone Mountain Memorial carving, but also about the coin being struck "in memory of Warren G. Harding, President of the United States of America, in whose administration the work was begun." (Public Law 68-46) (See the link below.)

Though early models of the half dollar's reverse included the inscription "AND IN MEMORY OF WARREN G HARDING" following "COMMEMORATING THE VALOR OF THE SOLDIER OF THE SOUTH / STONE MOUNTAIN GEORGIA", the inscription was eventually removed and the coin was struck without any reference to President Harding - counter to the coin's enabling Act.


1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar



Harding died on August 2, 1923 while on West Coast trip; he died in San Francisco. Though several scandals related to his death were circulated at the time (including death by poisoning), and an initial diagnosis of stroke was announced, today, it is generally believed that Harding died as a result of having a heart attack (he was known to have had an enlarged and weakened heart).

Harding was not forgotten from a numismatic standpoint, however, as the Mint engraved and struck the Harding medal for its "US Presidents Series" in 1924. The Mint referred to the piece as a "Memorial Medal" as it featured Harding's inauguration date and his date of death. The medal was the work of George T. Morgan.

The obverse presents a left-facing portrait of the late President, with "WARREN G." at the rim to the left, and "HARDING" at the rim to the right (all references, viewer's perspective).

The medal's reverse makes wonderful use of allegory. At the design's left is depicted a column (symbolizing strength) and a female figure, wearing a veil, in mourning (she represents the mourning experienced by the people of the United States after the popular Harding's death). In her outstretched right hand, she holds a laurel branch (symbolic of Harding's success and prominent stature). The design also includes a wreath with a palm branch extending through it - the elements are symbolic of peace, victory and eternal life (Harding's memory will live on).

1924 Warren G. Harding Presidential/Memorial Medal



For more on the intended connection of Warren G. Harding to the 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar, check out:

- 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial Half Dollar - President Harding Removed

For other of my posts on the Stone Mountain coin, see: Commems Collection



Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
01/28/2022 09:21 am
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 Posted 01/28/2022  09:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks as always!
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 Posted 01/28/2022  10:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting!

I wonder how Harding's inclusion would have affected its popularity over time.
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 Posted 01/28/2022  7:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@commems - I'm totally impressed and truly amazed on how your research and exceptional writing style can somehow make a connection between the Stone Mountain half and the Harding medal.

The Harding medal is visually very powerful - and your written tour through the allegorical elements of the Harding medal surely resonate with me as I view it in the images provided.

Your outstanding medal collection, that you continue to share, is slowly but surely dragging me into a circling whirlpool of another collectible adventure.


One minor question - the Harding medal reverse shows a heraldic eagle encased in a circle of something - what does that mean?
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 Posted 01/28/2022  8:21 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
One minor question - the Harding medal reverse shows a heraldic eagle encased in a circle of something - what does that mean?

Morgan adapted the Presidential Seal then in use for the medal; the Presidential Seal was based on the Great Seal of the US which incorporates a heraldic eagle. On the eagle's breast is seen the US Shield, in its left talon (viewer's perspective) is seen an olive branch (peace) while its right talon clutches 13 arrows (ready to defend) - together, the elements in the eagle's talons indicate the US prefers peace but has the strength and willingness to defend itself against foes. The eagle is encircled by a laurel wreath, symbolic of success and prosperity.

Quote:
...your written tour through the allegorical elements of the Harding medal surely resonate with me as I view it in the images provided.

Thanks! You won't find such a description in the guide books! It's typical for them to just identify the elements, without going into their symbolism.






Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/28/2022  11:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hokiefan_82 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks again, commems, for a great write-up. That's a very interesting medal - the reverse I find particularly attractive.
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 Posted 01/29/2022  3:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
That's a very interesting medal - the reverse I find particularly attractive.

Well-executed allegory is always a "Winner!" to my eyes.

Quote:
I wonder how Harding's inclusion would have affected its popularity over time.

That's tough to say. At the time of the half dollar's release, it likely would have driven some potential buyers away, but brought in others. Over time, I think the impact would have dissipated away. Over the last 50+ years, I don't think it would have had any noticeable impact at all.



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