Having missed out on the 300th Anniversary of the 1636 establishment and 1641 incorporation of the Town of Springfield, Massachusetts, John Foster Furcolo (D-MA) introduced a bill in April 1952 (82nd Congress) to coin "special 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the one-hundredth-anniversary of the founding of the city of Springfield, Massachusetts."Seal of Springfield, MA(Image Credit: Public Domain.)
Springfield is a city in west-central Massachusetts; it is the County Seat of Hampden County. In 1952, its population was approximately 162,000.
The bill's title/objective is somewhat misleading. As noted above, Springfield, MA was established in 1636 - it was originally named "Agawam Plantation" and was considered to be within the Colony of Connecticut. It was in 1636 that William Pynchon, along with six other men, purchased land from the local Native Americans and established a trading post (primarily for fur trading) at the confluence of the Agawam and Connecticut Rivers; the Agawam River is known today as the Westfield River. The land occupied today by Springfield was included in Pynchon's purchase.
The Town of Springfield was incorporated in 1642; it was incorporated as the City of Springfield in 1852 - more than 200 years after being settled and incorporated as a town. It is the 1852 "City" date that was to be marked by the coin, not Springfield's true founding.
Is the City of Springfield, MA worthy of a legal tender US commemorative coin?
It certainly has better credentials vs. some of the other towns/cities I've discussed. Among them, Springfield, MA is:
Home to America's first Armory and military arsenal, dating to the Revolutionary War under the authority of General George Washington (Springfield Armory; National Historic Site)
Home to the first American-made automobile (Designed in Springfield in 1893 by brothers Charles and James Frank Duryea (design was mostly Charles' / building was mostly James); sales began in 1896 after 13 cars were built by hand)
Birthplace of basketball (Invented by Dr.James Naismith (Canadian) in 1891)
Home to Basketball Hall of Fame (Celebrated with US commemorative coins in 2020)
Birthplace of Theodor Geisel (aka, "Dr. Seuss")
Birthplace of America's first motorcycle company - Indian Motorcycle Company (First factory opened in Springfield in 1897 by George Hendee; opened as Hendee Manufacturing Company)
Publishing home of Merriam-Webster American-English Dictionary (publishing rights purchased from estate of Daniel Webster in 1843); the G & C Merriam printing and publishing business opened in Springfield in 1831Side Note: While Springfield, MA and Springfield, IL are the most famous US Springfield towns/cities, there is believed to be a "Springfield" town/city in 34 states, including Oregon (the Springfield that is the basis for
The Simpsons cartoon).
The bill appears to have sought a circulating commemorative half dollar as it does not list a sponsor, specify a maximum mintage or include provisions regarding ordering and selling the coins (above their par value). Decisions regarding mintage and design were to be made by the Secretary of the Treasury. I've posted before about other circulating commemorative attempts (e.g., What If? 1948 Oswego, NY Centennial
), I believe such were attempts to get around the Treasury Department's objections to the use of US coinage
for purposes other than general commerce (e.g., fundraising).
Upon its introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Banking and Currency. The Committee did not report the bill, and it thus failed for lack of action when the 82nd Congress adjourned.
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, as well as more What If? stories, see: Commems Collection