Harry Waterson submitted these thoughts on the Bayonne Bridge medal mentioned last week. -Editor Dick Johnson asked me to comment on the high price this 32.2mm medal which sold for $174.15 on Ebay and mentioned in The E-Sylum last week. This medal is by Julio Kilenyi and Dick knew of my interest in Kilenyi medals. My initial reaction was “WOW!”
My research on this medal indicates that it is relatively scarce by medallic standards. It is one of three versions struck for the dedication. There is a 76.3mm table medal and a 31.5mm fob hung from a blue ribbon and probably worn as a hanging badge at the ceremony. The medals were struck by Whitehead & Hoag and issued by the Port of New York Authority. All of the W&H records were destroyed in 1955 and the Port Authority records went up in 9/11. I have not found any other source for mintage figures. So empirical evidence must suffice.
Auction Records: Ebay; since 2002 the hanging badge has sold 14 times and made an average $36 each. The table medal has come up 5 times and made $67 on average. The small round piece had come up only twice prior to 3/23/09 and averaged $25.70 a sale.
Auction Records: Johnson & Jensen; during the history of this company, the table medal was auctioned off 5 times and the hanging badge once.
Historical Perspective: In 1931, the Port Authority opened two major bridges, the George Washington Bridge on Oct. 24th and the Bayonne Bridge on Nov. 14th. The GWB Dedication made a big medallic splash with 2 gold medals, silver medals, bronze medals in 2 sizes, a hanging badge and a small round medal.
The opening of the GWB was a major political event. The Governor of NY, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man with serious Presidential aspirations, was one of the major participants in the ceremonies. Three weeks later, the major state election now past, the Port Authority, I am sure, ordered only enough medals to service the needs of the Bayonne Bridge Dedication on the day. Hence relatively few of the small round medals were probably produced.
Name Change: On Oct. 31st, The Port Authority changed the name of the bridge from the Kill van Kull Bridge to the Bayonne Bridge. This added a time constraint that would also have mitigated against a larger number of medals than absolutely necessary being produced before the opening two weeks later.
Comparison of Ebay Sales: Numbers for both medals:
GWB Fob-14; Round-9; Table-21
Bayonne Fob-14; Round-3; Table-5
The fact that a medal is scarce does not necessarily affect its price in the market. This market is usually quite thin and in the past Port Authority medals have been little sought after. Recently there has been a marked increase in interest in New York City medals. On 3/31 a silver GWB Dedication medal went for $527 on Ebay. In the case of this Bayonne Bridge medal, there were two highly motivated buyers and, I think, a very surprised seller.
To read the previous E-Sylum article, see: 1931 BAYONNE BRIDGE DEDICATION MEDAL (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n13a16.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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