Tom Dalrymple submitted these thoughts inspired by an earlier E-Sylum item. Thanks!
First off, thank you for your many contributions to a thoroughly fascinating on-line publication. Whenever I wish to avoid actually doing my day job I can always count on The E-Sylum to provide an interesting if not outright enjoyable way to procrastinate.
As avid collectors of all things round and metal and Alaskan and dated between our Statehood in '59 and our Centennial in '67 (wheh!) my wife and I were very interested by the reply to our friend and fellow collector's inquiry regarding one of our more mysterious commemoratives, that being President Adam's portrait on a medal bearing our state's seal:
The answer, learned as it is, still left some doubt in our minds. As for it possibly being a "mule" however, my wife's find of a silver edge-numbered specimen in the 800's took much from the credibility of that being a possibility, as did the subsequent discovery of bronze versions.
For the record, the producer was Metal Arts Company (and not MACO, as is most often reported) who's president, John L Jack, died this past January 5th. His obituary noted his time spent in the Navy and, perhaps far more importantly here, was quite careful to point out he had "served in Alaska".
While we do not know if he was yet president of Metal Arts at the time the Adams/Alaska was minted, if so his desire to honor the state he called home is certainly likely. Further, as he undoubtedly travelled the Pacific it is also likely he would have stopped off in Hawaii as well, thus possibly also providing some inclination to honor our 50th state as well.
All of which brings us to the recent find (on eBay, where else?) of the pair of medals in the attached photos. These photos lead us to believe the Adams/Alaska coin was minted as part of a two-coin Hawaii/Alaska set. This combination was exceedingly common. For example, there is the SOM Alaska/Hawaii Medallion, the MACO "Official" Alaska and Hawaii companion medallions, Mishler's Alaska/Hawaii set, G&G Distributors "Flag Day" Dollars and Heraldic Arts Alaska and Hawaii "Halves", not to mention the Franklin Mint's many subsequent and shameless attempts.
All that said, while we are very proud and pleased that documented historical connections do exist between John Adams and the State of Alaska we would have to say the existence of a Washington/Hawaii set pretty much changes the debate as to why an Alaska/Adams was actually produced. Our guess would be that Metal Arts simply wished to cash in on the Alaska/Hawaii medal frenzy, especially if they happened to already have at least the start of a Presidential Series on hand to work with.
Obviously, it would not be possible to match up the then (and now, Mr. President!) 50 states with the then 34 presidents (no, not even in reverse order…) so further installments could not have been contemplated. Additionally, I have never seen any other president's portrait on any medal of this size issued by Metal Arts.
I'm not sure if the Adams/Alaska medal nor its history is of any interest to collectors outside of Alaska, but at the very least we believe this discovery serves as yet another example of how a perfectly good theory can be brought into question by a single dose of reality.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WHY PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS IS DEPICTED ON AN ALASKA STATEHOOD MEDAL
Wayne Homren, Editor
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