1920 Wilson Dollar – Silver So Called Dollar HK-449

This medal is both rare and beautiful. It is a silver “Wilson Dollar”. It commemorates the opening of the US mint in Manila on July 16, 1920. Manila was the only overseas US mint, and it produced many of the US Philippine coins.

On the obverse of the medal is a bust of President Woodrow Wilson facing to the left. This is a slightly abbreviated version of the bust that was used on Wilson’s 1917 Inauguration Medal and the 1920 Assay Commission Medal. Woodie is shown wearing a suit and tie, with wire rimmed spectacles. He looks quite contemporary, and could easily pass for a modern bank manager or CEO. The inscription reads “President of the United States”.

On the reverse is an allegorical representation of the minting process. This pattern is almost identical to the Assay Commission Medals issued from 1880-1890 (just reversed). The Roman goddess of minting is shown helping a young boy pour planchets into a coin press from a cornucopia. Juno Moneta holds scales in her right hand (which reaches up into the legend) and has her left hand on the youth’s shoulder. Because of the scales, Juno is often mistaken for Justice (as Hibler and Kappen did when describing her). She is shown wearing a very modest toga, while the youth is nude. The legend reads “To Commemorate The Opening Of The Mint * Manila P.I. 1920”.

So Called Dollar - 1920 Wilson Dollar HK449 Obverse

So Called Dollar - 1920 Wilson Dollar HK449 Obverse

So Called Dollar - 1920 Wilson Dollar HK449 Reverse

So Called Dollar - 1920 Wilson Dollar HK449 Reverse

Identification code: HK-449

Date: 1920

Mint Mark: None (Manila Mint)

Mintage: 2,200 (~37.26% of the total minted)

Country of origin: United States (US Philippine Territory)

Composition: 90% silver, 10% copper

Size: 38 mm

Weight: 27.22 grams (0.87514332 oz ASW)

Other details: The medals were struck at the Manila mint under the direction of Clifford Hewitt. The dies were designed by George Morgan, and his initial is on both the obverse and reverse, on Wilson’s breast and above Justice’s sandal (a microscopic “M”). The reverse is similar to the obverse of the Panama Pacific Expo half dollar (which was designed by Morgan’s rival, Barber).The medal was struck in copper (HK450), silver (HK449), and gold (HK1031). Good luck finding one of the gold ones – the last one that sold at auction went for $74,750 in July of 2008.

3,700 Copper and 2,200 Silver pieces were struck and sold to the public for $0.50 and $1, respectively. If I get my hands on a time machine, you can bet that I will pay 1920 a visit.

The gold piece is vanishingly rare – only 5 were reported struck.. One gold medal was presented to President Woodrow Wilson and one to the U.S. Secretary of War, the other three were lost when the Japanese invaded the Philippines. There seem to be 3 distinct examples that have sold in auction (possibly all 3 that were missing when the HK catalog was published). One has a mount that was removed, one is in MS-61, and one is in MS-62.

The copper and silver medals also disappeared in great numbers during the war. Many were dumped in the ocean when Corregidor fell – virtually every bank vault and safety deposit box in the islands had been evacuated there as the Japanese approached. Before the fortress surrendered, boats spent nearly 2 days dumping valuables in deep water to delay Japanese salvage operations. That means that several tons of coins, metal, and jewelry were dumped – some are still there to this day. While many of the dumped coins and medals have been recovered, they are often severely damaged by salt corrosion (this medal has no damage from ocean water).

Estimated value: $800-950 in MS-61 (slabbed by NGC)

$74,750

12 responses to “1920 Wilson Dollar – Silver So Called Dollar HK-449

  1. Hi admin can I copy some information from the publish?

    Thanks

  2. SILVERCOIN > Thanks for asking, but no, my content is protected by copyright.

    You are welcome to include an excerpt up to 100 words in length as long as you provide a link back to the original page, but anything else would require licensing.

  3. My dad passed on his coin collection (one big plastic bag full!) to me recently and lo and behold one of those coins was inside. It seemed blackened around the rim though, is that the salt water damage you were talking about?

  4. What you’re describing may just be natural toning. Silver takes on a purple/black patina from oxidation, and some people pay extra for that beautiful color. I would not recommend cleaning your father’s medal – harsh cleaning can damage the coin and drastically reduce its value.

  5. Hi,

    I have one but due to oxidation, it got dark and somewhat purple. I had it since I was in grade school way back 1970. I found it the secret compartment of a cabinet I inherited from my great-grandmother. Will it still have value?

  6. Tania –

    Yes, it likely still has value. Do you have a picture of both sides? You want to make sure not to clean the medal. Doing so can drastically reduce its value.

    -Yours,
    George

  7. Hi , fortunately i’ve got the silver one in mint condition. Was your estimate accurate?
    I’m planning to visit a coin collector just to have an idea how much it worth now.
    I will try to sell it on ebay just incase…. Thanks!!

  8. It really depends on the condition that your medal is in. Can you send me some pictures? I’ll be happy to give you an estimate.
    -Thanks,
    George

  9. Hello all, I was reading up on this coin due to the fact I have the die for the coin. Its the willson side. I’m wondering if anyone would know the dollar amount for it. I already had heritage and MGC look at it to commemorate it. Any info would be great.

  10. I’d love to see photos of your die. I’m not entirely sure of the value of dies, but I would imagine that this would be worth at least as much as my medal. Are you sure that your die wasn’t from one of the Wilson presidential medals (which had a much larger mintage)?

    For many coins, there were multiple dies used, but sometimes there were remarkable differences between them. And, for this very limited issue, I doubt that there would have been more than a few dies made (2? 3? Probably no more than 4 or 5).

    -Thank you,
    George

  11. Pingback: Willson Dollar Die - Page 2

  12. Jimmy Martin

    have a piece but don’t know the value. it’s a silver wilson 1920 commemorate opening of the mint. MANILA PI…thanks.

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