1950 HK508 Washington DC Sesquicentennial Medal

This medal is one of the So-Called Dollars in my collection. It is in the mint issued packaging, but has slightly porous surfaces. I’d grade it as MS60 accordingly.

Medal - 1950 HK508 DC Sesquicentennial 01

Medal – 1950 HK508 DC Sesquicentennial 01

The obverse shows the Statue of Armed Freedom that can be found atop the US Capitol Building. It was originally named “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace” and is also known simply as the Statue of Freedom. The statue depicts a female figure wearing a military helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left. The legend runs along the inside of the rim, clockwise from 8:00 to 11:00 “National Capital” and from 1:00 to 4:00 “Sesquicentennial”. From 8:00 to 4:00, counterclockwise is the label “1800 Washington DC 1950”. There is an inner dividing ring, with 13 stars around the statue.

I find it really amazing that much of the casting work for the statue was done by a slave who, because of the nature of the Emancipation Proclamation, was not given his freedom to a Northern master until the conclusion of the Civil War. While Freedom was being cast at Clark Mills’ foundry on the outskirts of Washington DC, the foreman in charge of the casting went on strike. Mills turned the project over to Philip Reid, one of the slaves working at the facility.

Medal - 1950 HK508 DC Sesquicentennial 02

Medal – 1950 HK508 DC Sesquicentennial 02

On the reverse, there’s a lot more text. The central image is a figure dressed in Revolutionary War era garb facing towards an audience, with the backs of 5 bewigged heads suggesting that the viewer is sitting in that audience. The main figure is seen from the waist up, and is slightly to the right of center. Offsetting him on the left is a block of text reading “President / John Adams / Addresses / 6th Congress / Washington / November 22 / 1800; above all, around Sixth Congress 1800 • Eighty-first Congress 1950”. The bottom third of the medal is separated from the top 2/3rds by a bar, text in this section reads “150th Anniversary / Establishment of / Permanent National / Capital” with the artists initials in tiny font at 6:00: “T.J.” The legend encircling the top 2/3rds of the medal runs clockwise from 8:00 to 4:00: “Sixth Congress 1800 * Eighty-First Congress 1950”

Identification code: HK-508

Date: 1950

Mint Mark: n/a

Mintage: 10,000 copper bronze (HK507 is the silver issue, and there were only 1,000 of those minted)

Country of origin: America

Composition: Copper Bronze

Size: 38mm

Other details: I have the original cardboard case that this was issued in, along with a tissue paper wrap and paper insert. The insert reads:

1800 1950

This Medal was struck by authority of the Congress of the United States to commemorate the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the establishment of the seat of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia in the year 1800.

Thus, this Medal commemorates a significant land-mark in the history of the United States of America: the establishment of the nation’s permanent capital as ordained by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution of the United States.

On the obverse of the Medal is a reproduction of the Statue of Freedom that stands on the dome of the Capitol where it was placed on December 2, 1863, in the presence of President Lincoln and a great concourse of citizens. The reverse depicts President John Adams addressing the Second Session of the Sixth Congress at noon on November 22, 1800, an event that made the City of Washington the permanent capital of the nation.

The National Capital Sesquicentennial Commemora-tive Medal was authorized by Public Law 78, Eighty-first Congress and was struck at the United States Mint in Philadelphia. It was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones, Sculptor of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the World War II Victory Medal.

National Capital Sesquicentennial

Also, a quick and interesting note about the statue of Freedom – the headdress was conceived by the sculptor as a Phrygian cap (a symbol worn by a liberated slave), but Senator Jefferson Davis, who was overseeing decoration of the Capitol in 1855, objected strongly. His aide – Captain Montgomery Meigs, was sent with orders to remove the cap and said “its history renders it inappropriate to a people who were born free and would not be enslaved”. The cap was replaced with a military helmet, with an American eagle head and crest of feathers. Today many casual observers mistake the statue, with its eagle and feathers, as the portrait of an American Indian.

Estimated Value: $15-50 (the packaging is quite uncommon to find with this medal, and is the “x factor” there)

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