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Commems Collection: What If? 1938 New Haven, CT Tercentenary

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 Posted 03/31/2023  09:33 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
The history of New Haven - the Elm City - extends back to the earliest days of Connecticut. It was organized in 1638 as a separate colony under the leadership of Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton. The original settlement was known as Quinnipiac, being named after the local Native American tribe from whom the site was purchased under a contract that promised the English settlers would protect the Quinnipiac from the Mohawk and Pequot, two enemy tribes who had nearly killed them off.

Just two years later, in 1640, the name was changed to New Haven ("safe harbor"} and it has remained such ever since. The city was originally planned using a nine-square grid layout by John Brockett; the grid-plan gives rise to New Haven's claim to be "the first planned city in America." (Note: Savannah, Georgia makes a similar claim.)

The New Haven Colony became part of the Connecticut Colony roughly two decades later.

Map of Early Connecticut

(Image Credit: Kmusser assumed., CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The first New Haven, CT coin bill to be introduced was that of James Andrew Shanley (D-CT), who introduced his bill in December 1937. The bill called for coins "in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Colony of New Haven (New Haven Tercentenary)."

It called for the striking of 25,000 silver 50-cent pieces of standard specifications with a single commemorative design. The coins were to bear a "1938" date, regardless of when struck, and that all 25,000 of the coins were to be delivered to the New Haven Tercentenary Commemorative Coin Association at one time and within one year of the bill's enactment. The bill's language also limited the striking of the coins to a single US Mint facility, no P/D/S sets would be possible.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures where it sat dormant for the balance of the 75th Congress.

Approximately a week later, Augustine Lonergan (D-CT) introduced a related bill, though not a full companion. Lonergan's bill called for the striking of half dollars "in commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the New Haven Colony, then consisting of the towns of New Haven, Alilford, Branford, Gnilford, and Stamford, Connecticut, and Souchold, Long Island." A bit more detailed than the House bill.

Lonergan's bill called for "not less than twenty-five thousand silver 50-cent pieces," thus opening the possibility of coins in excess of 25,000 being struck (the House bill restricted the mintage to 25,000) without a defined upper limit. The bill did, however, limit coin production to 1938, so a fully open-ended situation would not have developed. The bill specified the coin's sponsor as the city of New Haven vs. the House bill's "New Haven Tercentenary Commemorative Coin Association." I believe this difference would have been easily clarified, considering the Coin Association was established in conjunction with the city.

Upon its introduction, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, As with the House bill, it was never reported out for further consideration. New Haven, CT would not get a commemorative half dollar for its 1938 anniversary!

New Haven did, however, pursue a privately-struck commemorative medal for its 1938 anniversary. I plan on a future post covering New Haven's 300th and very similar 200th Anniversary medals.

New Haven was still in a numismatic state of mind in 1988 as it prepared to celebrate its 350th Anniversary, and commissioned a privately-struck souvenir commemorative medal for the occasion. You can read my post about the medal here:

- 1988 New Haven, CT 350th Anniversary

For more of my topics on commemorative coins and medals, including lots of other What If? stories, see: Commems Collection.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 03/31/2023  09:56 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Figured that for a layup !
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 Posted 04/02/2023  06:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It's a bit surprising that in 1938 these bills did not even move out of the original committees - although by that time enthusiasm for commemorative coins had begun to wane.

Thanks @commems for another great What If? thread.
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