My Latest USA/Philippines Acquisition



... and a little more history.

I've been planning to post this journal entry ever since I submitted my Bronze "So-Called" Wilson Dollar in late November of last year. I just got it back last week and I can only guess that it was delayed by massive quantities of Silver 25th Anniversary ASE's making their way through the system.


By sheer coincidence, "JAA USA/Philippines Collection" posted an excellent and highly related journal entry last night titled "The Mint and U.S. Military History" (http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/JournalDetail.aspx?JournalEntryID=10382 ). My post here will hopefully be complimentary in that it shows the other side of the medal.

3,700 of these medals were stuck in bronze, 2,200 in silver, and three are known to survive from an original mintage of 5 in gold. All were very likely struck on July 15, 1920 (or shortly thereafter), to commemorate the opening day of the Manila Mint in the Philippines. They did not sell well at the time though, and a large number remained in the Philippine Treasury. Many of the silver, and possibly even the majority of the bronze medals were dumped into the Pacific Ocean in 1941 to keep them from falling into enemy hands when Japan invaded the Philippines. These pieces were heavily corroded by exposure to salt water, and are often sold as "sea salvaged." Many of those that escaped the ravages of the salt water have been cleaned, so pristine, unadulterated examples are relatively rare.

The obverse is dominated by the portrait of President Woodrow Wilson who is identified only as the "PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES." It was designed by George T. Morgan and is a slightly abbreviated version of the design found on the second Wilson inauguration medal in the United States Mint Presidential series.


The female figure on the reverse is often assumed to be Liberty, since this is a U.S. Mint medal. Occasionally, she is identified as Justice, probably because of the scales she is holding in her right hand. Neither of these are correct however. The reverse (also designed by Morgan) actually depicts "Juno Moneta" protecting and instructing a novice in the art and science of coin production. Juno Moneta is the Roman Goddess of Good Counsel, whose name means "Advisor" or "Warner," a very appropriate choice for a medal commemorating the opening of a mint.

According the The British Museum, "The origins of the modern English words 'money' and 'mint' lie in ancient Rome. In the period of the Roman Republic, from about 300 BC onwards, coins were made near the temple of the goddess Juno Moneta. It was located on the Capitol (the modern Campidoglio), the citadel of Rome. The goddess's name, Moneta ('Warner' or 'Reminder') eventually came to refer to the place where the coins were made, the 'mint', and to its product, 'money', both of which derive ultimately from the Latin word moneta." (http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/cm/s/silver_denarius_showing_juno_m.aspx)

The design of the medal is often credited to Clifford Hewitt. The medal was struck under the direction of Mr. Hewitt, who was responsible for the assembly and installation of the minting equipment in Manila, however the design was Morgan's. His initial 'M' appears on the base of Wilson's bust and to the right of Juno's left foot.


The silver medal pictured on the left below is known as HK-449 or Allen-M1. I purchased this piece raw in 2005 and submitted it to NGC for certification and grading several years ago. Needless to say, I was very pleased with the outcome.

The bronze medal pictured on the right below is known as HK-450 or Allen-M2. I purchased this specimen raw in November of 2011 and submitted it to NGC shortly thereafter. I was a bit disappointed with the Details grade, but not too terribly surprised. At least it's not sea salvaged, hair lined, scratched, or plated. NGC does not explain just how they believe it had been improperly cleaned, so I'm left wondering exactly what had been done to it prior to my acquisition. Despite the improper cleaning, it still has amazing eye appeal, exhibits great color, and is roughly 90% red. Although the mintage is much larger, original bronze specimens are much more difficult to obtain than their silver counterpart. My search will continue for an unadulterated example, but until then, this medal will make a nice addition to my collection.

Both of these medals are part of my Custom Set "Foreign Coins Struck at United States Mints" (http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=433)




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