Paul Cunningham offers these thoughts on two unusual 1876 Centennial items submitted last week by Dave Schenkman. -Editor
The first looks to be a post-Centennial Expo piece, perhaps homemade.
The second really grabbed my attention! It was obviously was a centennial for the U.S.O., the United Service Organizations, an umbrella
organization of six charitable organizations, including the Y.M.C.A. and the National Jewish Welfare Board! Oops! It couldn’t be a centennial of the
USO because it was founded at the request of President Roosevelt early in 1941.
Still, it was obviously a centennial for something. With a figure (crossed cannon and bomb) that anyone would associate with the military, maybe
it was for a 100 year celebration of a Revolutionary War fort. There are known tokens from eight locations in the U.S., namely Pine Bluff in
Arkansas; Benicia in California; Rock Island in Illinois; Aberdeen in Maryland; Picatinny, Raritan and Rockaway in New Jersey; San Antonio in Texas;
one in Tokyo; and one maverick, which used tokens. Three had pictures on the tokens of a flaming bomb (Rock Island, Tokyo and the maverick) and the
Rock Island also had the crossed cannon pictured.
The Rock Island token is the only one which pictures what is on Mr. Schenkman’s token. I have seen a design like that on the token but I can’t
place it. Perhaps a military insignia or shoulder patch?
A location not on the list offers a tantalizing twist: Ft. Adams in Rhode Island was originally formed as what I had called a “fortification” in
the town in 1776! That knowledge is merely a coincidence in the context of these comments but, on further study of Ft. Adam’s history, it is reported
that in recent years the fort had in operation an Ordnance Department! Could it be that a Company G (the countermark) at Ft. Adams decided to
celebrate 100 years of apparent continuous operation of a Revolutionary War fort?
Interesting. Deciphering these unusual items is part of the fun of numismatics; it's also a maddeningly difficult task at times.
Often all we're left with is speculation with no hard proof of their origin. But publication is the first step. Thanks to Dave for passing along
the images of his pieces, and to Paul for his thoughts. Readers - please be on the lookout and report any similar pieces you come across. Thanks,
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
Query: Two Unusual 1876 Centennial Items (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n47a23.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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