This medal is sterling silver and comes from the Longines Symphonette Great American Events Medal Series. It commemorates the Golden Spike Ceremony that joined the first railroad from the west with a railroad from the east. It shows a bare chested mountain main with a sledgehammer driving a spike into a railroad tie, superimposed over a map of the US with a train facing east and a train facing west. Promontory Point is marked on the map with a Paul Bunyan sized spike, and the legend reads “Transcontinental Railroad”.
The reverse is covered in boring font, apparently written by someone who was unaware that their caps lock key was on. It reads “The juncture of Union and Central Pacific Railroads at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869 united by rail the maritime boundaries of the United States.” Below that, there’s a dyspeptic eagle at 6:00 on the medal, with an olive branch in its talons and its wings raised over its body.
Identification code: unknown
Mint Mark: n/a
Mintage: 5,000 (this one is from set P #4,224, which is stamped on the edge)
Country of origin: United States of America
Composition: Sterling Silver (92.5% silver)
Size: 39 mm – it is slightly larger than a Morgan silver dollar, but this is not a coin.
Weight: 34 grams (1.109 ounces of ASW)
Other details: Longines is a watchmaker that sponsored a classical orchestra radio show in the 1940s called the Longines Symphonette. There were several different collections of silver medals made in the 1970’s to cross-promote the radio show and the Longines watch brand – this collection was produced along with Wittnauer Precious Metals Guild.
This medal comes from the Great American Triumphs series of 60 medals. These were sold in complete sets, or in little red boxes that held two medals each. The boxes were labeled “The Wittnauer Precious Metal Guild / Symphonette Square, Larchmont, N.Y. 10538 / Makers of Fine Medallic Art”.
These medals were produced in 92.5% silver and 99.99% silver. The edge of each medal is labeled with the composition (inscribed after “Longines Symphonette”). This one is labeled “Sterling”.
Did you know that more than one golden spike linked the railroads? There were apparently 4 precious metal spikes (plus a 5th duplicate of the famous golden spike): they included 1 big gold spike, 1 lesser gold one, 1 silver spike, and 1 gold/silver/iron spike. Surely they weren’t left in the railroad ties?
I’m curious, what happened to the other precious metal spikes that were placed at the ceremony joining the Continental Railroad?
I recently purchased 48 of these medals, but have compiled a list of the full set with links to the medals that I own:
1811-1825: Overland Trail (one that I do not have)
1819-1892: Walt Whitman (one that I do not have)
1846: Fifty-Four Forty or Fight (one that I do not have)
1851: “Go West, Young Man” (one that I do not have)
(undated: 1961-1909): Frederic Remington (one that I do not have)
1863: The Flight of the Nez Perce (one that I do not have)
1876: Little Big Horn (one that I do not have – and, well, I guess it was a ‘Great American Triumph’ for the Native Americans)
1879-1955: Albert Einstein (one that I do not have)
1895-1972: J. Edgar Hoover (one that I do not have)
1898-1961: Ernest Hemingway (one that I do not have)
(undated: 1899): Log Float (one that I do not have)
1927: Lindbergh Flies the Atlantic (one that I do not have)
1929-1968: Reverend Martin Luther King (one that I do not have)
1945: V.J. Day (one that I do not have)
1961: Kennedy’s Inauguration (one that I do not have)
1976: 2 Centuries of Liberty, Peace, and Progress (one that I do not have)
Estimated Value: Approximately $45-55 with silver at $42/ounce