And the story continues...
Though it had a generous, approved bill in hand, the West Virginia Centennial Commission requested a change to the quantity of medals authorized. Rather than sticking with the original authorization of up to 200,000 silver medals, the Commission requested the striking of a mix of platinum, silver and bronze medals.
Three bills calling for the amendment were introduced in the House, along with one in the Senate. The House bills were introduced in April (two) and May (one) of 1962; the Senate bill was introduced in April. Specifically, the amendment called for "not more than twenty platinum medals, twenty thousand silver medals, and seven hundred fifty thousand bronze medals."
Once again, the Senate bill was the one to move forward, being passed by the Senate in the first week of September. During its consideration, Jennings Randolph (D-WV) waxed eloquently about visiting his State during its Centennial year:
"We want our visitors to see our hills, sometimes rolling and sometimes rugged, but always beautiful. We want our visitors to sense the history of an area born of conflict in the War Between the States. We want our visitors to be on the soil of a State associated with the earlier years and activities of George Washington, the Father of the Republic. Here transpired the historical events which have meant so much, not only to us as West Virginians, but also to the peoples of the Nation. It was in the darkest hours of the American Revolution that George Washington is said to have exclaimed when he was sorely troubled and he feared for the cause for which he fought so valiantly, 'Give me a -banner to plant upon the hills of West Augusta' - that being another name for what is now known as West Virginia - 'and I will gather around me those men who will set this bleeding Nation free.'
"There is a sense of history. We want those who come next year to visit us to understand it and to be strengthened by its existence.
"We want those who come to witness the efforts we are making to further the diversification of industry in our State. We desire that our visitors anticipate with us the creativeness and the resourcefulness of a people who, although very proud of their heritage, are very generous in their hospitality and very genuine in their cooperation with others from distant States and countries."
After it was passed in the Senate, the bill was sent to the House for its consideration. Kenneth William Hechler (D-WV) - one of the Representatives that introduced one of the original bills in the House that called for West Virginia Statehood Centennial medals - offered a comment to justify the requested amendmanet:
"The law now on the statute books, passed in 1959, provides for 200,000 silver medals. The new law, in providing for 20,000 silver medals, 20 platinum medals and 750,000 bronze medals, allows the sale of a relatively inexpensive bronze medal for schoolchildren, tourists, and many others. The 20 platinum medals are designed for special collectors and will sell at a considerably higher price, of course."
Mr. Hechler also referred to Senator Randolph's remarks in the Senate and added that the medals were "not only symbolizing the greatness of a State, in its centennial year, but we are also thinking in terms of a State with a future - a promising and positive future." No objections to the proposed amendment were raised in the House, and it was passed without further discussion.
The amendment bill was then signed in each chamber and forwarded to the President for approval. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not have any issues with the amendment, and signed it into law on September 27, 1962. It gave the Mint enough time to finalize designs for the medal and strike the initial quantities of the medal in each metal in preparation of the 1963 Centennial.
The obverse of the medal presents the West Virginia State Seal.West Virginia State Seal(Image Credit: Public Domain.)
From the State of West Virginia Legislature web site:
"The Great Seal of West Virginia was adopted by the Legislature on September 26, 1863. The Seal bears the legend, State of West Virginia, together with the motto, "Montani Semper Liberi" (Mountaineers Are Always Free) A farmer stands to the right and a miner to the left of a large rock bearing the date of admission to the Union, June 20, 1863. In front of the rock are two hunters' rifles with a Phrygian Cap, or "Cap of Liberty", resting at the cross of the rifles. Joseph H. Diss Debar, of Doddridge County, designed the Seal in 1863 at the request of the Legislature."
An adaptation of the official 1963 Centennial Emblem/Logo is depicted on the medal's reverse. The primary design element is the proposed 600-foot radio telescope at Sugar Grove, WV. The site was being prepared for the large telescope when the project was cancelled in 1962 - the proposed telescope was never built. (The project was cancelled due to the telescope being deemed "already obsolete.") In the background is an outline map of West Virginia, while in the foreground is a star with "35" inscribed in it. The "35" refers to West Virginia being the 35th State admitted to the Union.1963 West Virginia Statehood Centennial Logo
Wondering about how a radio telescope cancelled in 1962 was chosen to be depicted on a 1963 commemorative medal?
The West Virginia Centennial Commission, the group responsible for the medal, was established in 1958-59 to plan the State's centennial observances. When it commissioned the creation of the Centennial logo, the telescope was an active and popular project (though full construction had not yet begun). The same was true for when the logo was selected for inclusion on the medal. Even though the project's cancellation was known at the time the medals were struck, the decision was made to continue the logo's use as it was already a recognized symbol of the centennial celebration and it drew attention to the state's future potential.
Per US Mint records, all 25 of the platinum medals were struck, as were 12,000 silver and 200,000 bronze medals. The medals were struck as proofs.1963 West Virginia Statehood Centennial
Check out Part I
to learn the full story of this medal.
For more of my topics on commemorative coins and medals, see: Commems Collection