Numismatic Detective - Undated Honolulu Carnival Dollar

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THN

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HK-721 features an Olympic gold medalist

Information on the so called dollar HK-721 is bear to locate. Identified as the "Honolulu (Aloha) Carnival Dollar" and given an R-5 rarity (estimated that less than 200 known). Date of mintage is unknown.

A good starting point was researching the "Mid-Pacific Carnival" (MPC). I found posters and post cards that indicated the carnival series lasted from 1910 through 1917. My focal point was the year 1914 as the HK-721 "surf rider" bears the resemblance of the poster's surf rider. Poster names the surf rider as Duke Kahanamoku.

In 1912, Duke Kahanamoku broke the 200m freestyle in his Olympic trial heat. He went on to win the gold in 100 m freestyle and silver in the 4x200 relay team. Duke was also making surfing popular around the world.

One can make the case that Duke Kahanamoku is the surf rider on HK-721. And that HK-721 was made available at the 1914 MPC.

I scanned the archived Hawaii newspapers from 1910 through 1917, period when the carnival series was held. As a reference point in history, Hawaii became a US territory in 1900 and WW1 lasted from 1914 -- 1918.

The Hawaii newspapers I reviewed indicate the MPC was led by a director general. Many of the articles reflect poster selection by the MPC committee. The primary means of advertising MPC was by poster and postcards. The 1914 MPC committee was adamant that only territorial entries were to be accepted. Many of these original advertisements command a premium today.

The 1915 MPC committee agreed to steer away in using a surf rider figure in its 1915 MPC poster and is reflected in its selection.

Review of the MPC committee work in the newspaper archive reflects no mention of a coin, token or medal to be issued in conjunction with the MPC. This indicates that HK-721 was an unofficial souvenir.

After reviewing a few 1914 advertisements I made discovery. Wall & Dougherty, a design firm that makes: "Medals, Plaques, Buttons, Badges, Emblems, and Prize Cups". As the ad states, "Are especially well equipped for making original designs". The advertisement itself does not draw any conclusion. However, the director general of the 1914 MPC was James Donahue Dougherty. He was also a partner in the firm Walls & Dougherty. Did Dougherty and his partner create and sold HK-721? The investigation continues on this possibility.

In summary, it is possible that HK-721:

1) Was minted in late 1913 or early 1914 (MPC is held each February)

2) Minted by Wall & Dougherty as a 1914 unofficial MPC souvenir

The investigation continues....

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