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Commems Collection: What If? 1938 Admiral Francios Joseph Paul Comte De Grasse

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 Posted 03/16/2022  1:11 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I believe it is safe to say that without France's financial and military assistance, the American Revolution would have turned out quite differently, with the British quite likely emerging victorious.

The French Navy, for example, was a crucial participant in the Battle of Virginia Capes and the Battle/Siege at Yorktown. Admiral Francios Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse commanded the French fleet that defeated the British Navy at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay at the Battle of Virginia Capes and prevented Lord Cornwallis from receiving troops and supplies at Yorktown. These events led to Cornwallis' surrender to American General George Washington and French General Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau (and, ultimately, brought about the end of the American Revolution).

In January 1938, Representative William Irving Sirovich (D-NY) introduced a bill in the House that called for 50-cent pieces "in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of Francois Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse, admiral of the fleet which aided the armies of General Washington during the American War of Independence."

The bill proposed an unusual number of coins - 18,000 - to be struck "at the mints of the United States," thus opening up the possibility of coins being struck in Philadelphia. Denver and San Francisco. The requested mintage figure along with the potential to be struck at all three US Mint facilities make me think an issue of 6,000 per mint was contemplated by the coin's sponsor.

The bill did not specify the date to be placed on the coins, nor did it specify the time period during which they could be struck or a minimum quantity for orders. The bill did, however, specify that the coins could be delivered only to its sponsor - the Friends of de Grasse.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures upon its introduction, but was never reported out. I have no doubt that if the bill had been reported by the Committee and considered by either the House or Senate, its open-ended language would have been tightened considerably and the coin would have been limited to a single mint and dated "1938" (the 150th anniversary of de Grasse's death).

Of course, Congress' inaction on the bill meant that no coin would be struck. Several years before, however, the Paris Mint struck at attractive commemorative medal for the 150th anniversary of the victory at Yorktown. Its obverse featured right-facing, conjoined portraits of George Washington, Francios Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse and Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau - the principal leaders of the victorious side. The medal's reverse presents an overhead view of the battle area with the inscription "CAPITULATION AT YORK TOWN" ("SURRENDER AT YORKTOWN"). The design/engraving is the work of Pierre Turin.

1931 Paris Mint - Capitulation at Yorktown Medal

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Yale Univeristy Art Gallery,

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 03/16/2022  2:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Arkie to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice. Thank you.
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