I’m looking for some information on this piece. It is a small
(possibly gold) medal, with a half-inch diameter and its weight is 1.1
grams. On the reverse it is inscribed evacuation day centennial
1783-1883. On the obverse is a portrait of either Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Franklin or George Washington and the inscription god and our country.
Stanley W. Bassett
Based upon Mr. Bassett’s written description, the piece in
question may be a medalet issued upon the 100th anniversary of the
evacuation of British soldiers from New York City on Nov. 25, 1783.
The obverse actually depicts George Washington, who rode with his
troops into the city after the last British soldiers had boarded ships
leaving the city. The British had occupied New York City since late
1776 during the American Revolution.
According to a New York Times blog article by Sam Roberts on the
225th anniversary of the event in 2008, Evacuation Day was celebrated
annually by New Yorkers for more than a century until it fell out of
favor after World War I, pushed aside by America’s alliance with Great
Britain during the “Great War,” as well as the nationwide celebration
of Thanksgiving, which falls on or close to Nov. 25 every year.
Roberts also writes: “Departing British troops nailed their flag
to a pole downtown and greased it. Every November, a descendent would
re-enact the legendary feat of John Van Arsdale, a sailor, who donned
cleats and shimmied up the flagpole to replace the British colors with
the Stars and Stripes.
“As George Washington triumphantly proceeded Downtown, jeering
Americans on Staten Island were fired upon by a British ship in what
has been described as the last shot fired in the war.”
The medalet celebrating the 100th anniversary was issued by George
B. Soley, according to Russell Rulau and George Fuld’s book Medallic
Portraits of Washington. Soley was a Philadelphia diesinker and likely
used a steam press formerly owned by the U.S. Mint to make this
medalet and a number of other pieces attributed to him. Rulau and Fuld
give this medalet an identifying number of 464 and a rarity rating of
3, meaning it is a somewhat common piece, with an estimated 500 to
1,999 pieces produced. In Extremely Fine condition, Rulau and Fuld
give it a value of $7.50; in Uncirculated condition, $10.
As opposed to being gold, the piece is actually described as being
gilt, meaning it has a gold-colored surface but is composed of base metals.
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