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US Commemorative Coin Series: Quick Bits #72 - Actual Women On Classic US Commemorative Coins

 
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 Posted 07/03/2022  07:29 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Classic-era US commemorative coins often included the depiction of a woman within their designs. In many cases, however, the female figure was allegorical/mythological (e.g., Liberty on the 1926 American Sesquicentennial gold Quarter Eagle, Columbia on the 1915 Panama-Pacific silver half dollar, Victory on the 1934-38 Texas Independence Centennial silver half dollars, etc.).

Disregarding these coins for the present discussion, we find that actual/non-allegorical women have been presented on just three classic-era commemorative coins:

1. 1893 World's Columbian Exposition Quarter Dollar




The obverse of the coin features a portrait of Queen Isabella of Spain. The coin's reverse depicts a female allegorical figure representing Women's Industry. The coin makes the list because of Queen Isabella.


2. 1936 Elgin, IL Centennial Half Dollar




The reverse of the coin depicts the "Pioneer Memorial" statue which presents a pioneer family with the mother holding her infant child. (The figures depicted in the statue are meant to be representative of a real-life pioneer family vs. specific, named individuals; the gender of the infant is unspecified in the official description of the statue.)


3. 1937 Roanoke Colony Memorial Half Dollar




The reverse of the Roanoke Colony half dollar presents two women - a standing Eleanor Dare and, cradled in her arms, the newborn Virginia (the daughter of Eleanor and Ananias Dare).


So, four actual women on three coins. If the female allegorical/mythological figures are counted, 11 additional coin designs need to be added (possibly 12 depending on the position you take on the female mermaid vs. male triton debate regarding the 1935 Hudson, NY Sesquicentennial half dollar).

- Classic US Commemorative Coins Depicting Allegorical/Mythological Figures


For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including more on each of the coins listed here, see: Commems Collection.


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Edited by commems
07/03/2022 07:30 am
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 Posted 07/03/2022  09:48 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What about female figureheads on some of those ships?
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 Posted 07/03/2022  3:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add captainmandrake1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Poor little Virginia Dare...makes me sad each time I think about it. Hope she made it somehow.
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 Posted 07/05/2022  07:29 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What about female figureheads on some of those ships?

I realize a joke was being made, but for those unfamiliar with ship figureheads:

1. Until the late 1700s, figureheads on wooden sailing ships, when used, were not typically a woman - they were animals or mythological male gods or shields/coats-of-arms. The ships depicted on classic-era US commemorative coins were from a time well before the late 1700s; they date to the early 1600s or earlier, an era that did not make significant use of figureheads. For example, from my reading, the Mayflower didn't have a figurehead (1920 Pilgrim Landing Tercentenary half dollar), neither did the Nieuw Nederlandt (the 1924 Huguenot-Walloon coin), and the figurehead on Henry Hudson's Half Moon was a lion (1935 Hudson, NY Sesquicentennial half dollar).

2. Later, when a ship included a figure head that depicted a woman, it was generally a representation of a mythological/allegorical or idealized woman vs. an actual living woman.

So, the number of actual women depicted on classic US commemorative coins is not impacted by the potential inclusion of figureheads on the ships depicted.



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 Posted 07/06/2022  05:49 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great read commems, thanks for sharing.

I suggest that in lieu of the flashy and lustrous MS66 Roanoke example you proudly show - you could have represented Eleanor and Virginia Dare via an honestly circulated example which was used in our nations commerce.
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 Posted 07/06/2022  07:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
you could have represented Eleanor and Virginia Dare via an honestly circulated example which was used in our nations commerce.

You mean this ol' thing?






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 Posted 07/06/2022  07:46 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Slerk to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
About 1936 Elgin, IL Centennial Half Dollar.
Do I understand correctly that it does not depict a specific woman. It's just a family of pioneers. We do not know the name of this woman and the other heroes of the statues.

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 Posted 07/06/2022  07:52 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Do I understand correctly that it does not depict a specific woman. It's just a family of pioneers. We do not know the name of this woman and the other heroes of the statues.

Correct. A representative family is depicted vs. a specific family.


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 Posted 07/06/2022  08:42 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
You mean this ol' thing?


That would be the example I was thinking of. It's nice to view an old friend again.


Quote:
A representative family is depicted vs. a specific family.


I don't recall ever coming across an Elgin example where the facial features of the Pioneer family are well detailed. I wonder if this was a die prep issue (details were never present in the design) or a striking issue whereby the detail was not transferred to the coins?
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 Posted 07/06/2022  11:10 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
You mean this ol' thing?

Quote:
That would be the example I was thinking of. It's nice to view an old friend again.
A lovely circulated example with a light cameo touch.
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