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coinsbygary's Blog

12 Dec 2020

The Wilson So-Called Dollar Restrike

Medals-So-Called Dollars | coinsbygary

The Wilson so-called dollar restrike is a privately commissioned medal struck by Daniel Carr of the Moonlight Mint. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Manila Mint opening on July 6th, 1920. It is almost an exact copy of the original medal except for the reverse legend. The reverse legend of the original "Wilson Dollar" reads, "To Commemorate The Opening Of The Mint," and the date is 1920. The restrike replaces the word "Opening" with "Anniversary" and dates 2020. What makes this medal a restrike is that the original 1920 obverse die engraved by George T. Morgan was used to strike the 2020 medal. The question now is, how did this die get into private hands without first being canceled? The answer to this question is fascinating, and I can't tell it all, so I'll give you my sources to read for yourself after I whet your appetite.

This story begins with the only United States Mint to operate outside the continental US in the Philippine city of Manila. The so-called Wilson Dollars were among the first numismatic items to be struck at the new facility. The obverse of the medal features a left-facing bust of Woodrow Wilson. There is some debate concerning the reverse and the identity of the female image. However, I believe she is Juno Moneta, the goddess of money. Other people think she may be Libertas or Justitia. In a kneeling position, Juno Moneta is overseeing a young child pouring planchets from a cornucopia into a minting press. The young child probably represents the Philippines.

With an impending invasion by the Japanese of the Philippines on December 8th, 1941, the Manila Mint's monetary assets were moved to Corregidor Island. Before the final fall of Corregidor on May 6th, 1942, the leaders of the Philippine government were evacuated to the United States by submarine. Along with those leaders, US Navy submarines smuggled some 73 tons of gold and silver bullion, 140 tons of peso and centavo coins, and millions of treasury notes, bonds, and stocks from the Philippines. Unable to smuggle out all the Manila Mint's assets, the remaining currency was cataloged and burned. Moreover, 115 tons of silver coins were dumped into Manila Bay at night over multiple evenings.

Along with the silver peso and centavo coins dumped into Manila Bay were many silver and copper so-called Wilson Dollars. Wilson Dollars were also struck in gold, but there are only five examples known to exist. Naturally, with so many recovered medals damaged by seawater, mint-state specimens are rare and expensive. Still, other medals managed to work their way into circulation despite not being a coin.

Manila remained occupied by the Japanese until March 3rd, 1945 when US forces captured the city. By this time, the Manila Mint was in shambles, and GI's were removing small items from the mint as souvenirs. Among those souvenirs was the obverse die for the Wilson so-called dollar found by Army Warrant Officer Lloyd V. Spriggle. This die remained in the Spriggle family and was used as a paperweight until two coin dealers authenticated it at the 2012 January FUN show in Florida. To the best of my knowledge, the die remains the property of Shawn Spriggle, whose grandfather is Lloyd.

Now I don't know how the prominent so-called dollar dealer Jeff Shevlin obtained the original obverse die to commission the restrike. However, if I were to guess, he probably borrowed it from the Spriggle family for one or more of the medals. From there, Daniel Carr used the die "as is" without any repairs or modifications to mint the restrike using several different metals, including silver and gold. My medal is struck using a nickel alloy. It is 38 mm in diameter and weighs 26.3 grams with a mintage of 118. The reverse die was probably manufactured by digitally mapping the reverse of an original medal. Interestingly, the word "anniversary" 's relief and font are slightly off from the rest of the words in the reverse legend.

I'm glad that the obverse die wasn't repaired because of the die-clash marks and polish on my medal. This kind connects my medal more closely with the original die's condition when it was recovered from the Manila Mint during WWII. If you look closely, there are clash marks on the back of Wilson's neck, the back of his head, and on his forehead. The die polish is visible in the field in front of and behind Wilson's bust.

This is the first collectible I purchased manufactured by Daniel Carr's Moonlight Mint, and I couldn't be happier with its quality. I know Danial Carr is a controversial person in numismatics because he often comes close to violating the Hobby Protection Act of 1973. However, in this case, I'll give him a pass. This medal is clearly a copy of the original. For someone like me, without the means to purchase a nice original, it will do nicely. Gary.

Sources:

Sea Salvage Sunken Treasure, or Damaged Goods? By John R. Riley in the May 2010 issue of " The Numismatist."

https://www.coinworld.com/news/precious-metals/wilson-dollar-medal-obverse-die-surfaces.html

https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/1042080/wilson-dollar-100-year-anniversary-medals-restrike-by-daniel-carr-final-mintages

https://www.wilsondollar.com/

https://www.ngccoin.com/news/article/7240/

Comments

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 5

Never heard of these. I will have to do some research.

Longstrider

Level 6

Great blog Gary. You are too right about D. Carr's Moonlight Mint. Some people get downright crazy, almost violent about him and his products. I love them. I have no problem seeing they are different than the original. I don't want to get into that here but I have a Peace Dollar in the original version of what was supposed to be. I know the difference. I would never have been able to buy a "real" one. I barely was able to get this. Anyhow thanks for the history.

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

I have seen several advertisements for these. While I find the subject matter rather appealing I have not pulled the trigger at this point. Trying to focus my collection.

I visited the moonlight mint on a tour once, it was great. he does come a hair bit too close for some of his products, but that just shows the quality.

Kepi

Level 6

Very cool Medal! I love the works of Daniel Carr and the Moonlight Mint! Great blog ; )

"SUN"

Level 6

I fine this coin interesting. Not aware of this coin.

TheNumisMaster

Level 5

Very fascinating. I have never heard of this restrike. What an amazing piece of history. Cheers, NM

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Wow, I hadn't known about this restrike and how it came to be. VERY interesting story! Thanks so much!

It's Mokie

Level 6

Wow Gary, a wonderful acquisition and an even better back story, thanks for sharing and much love to that somewhat controversial Daniel Carr.

user_9073

Level 5

2020 is the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the US operated Manilla Mint. I think this event deserved more celebration than it got. Jeff Shevlin creating these restrikes and Whitman Publishing created a Redbook Special Edition. These are the only celebratory items I know of. I got the restrikes in silver and copper and I got a copy of the special Redbook. Anyone heard of anything else????

Golfer

Level 5

I am on Jeff Shevlin's mailing list and have seen these for sale. Was thinking of buying a silver one, or the other options. I have bought a few medals from Shevlin. Thanks for the additional information on how the obverses die made its way. I am now a socalled dollar and half dollar collector. Love the old medals.

Mike

Level 7

Gary I'm sorry . Is it nice yes it is. But I have never been a fan of Mr. Carr. How he is not in jail I don't know. He takes and takes your money. You get a re strike copy without the word copy and you pay his price. To me that's insane. He will never get a dime from me. My son's will not get a copy of a coin that's almost exact. It's the real deal of nothing. Please don't take this personally. I just can't stand the man. Great blog. In was going to stop when I got to his name. But I enjoyed it. We buy what we like!!

Stumpy

Level 5

I love it, the history of the Manila Mint has always been fascinating to me. Thank you for this walk through a great historical period during and after WWII. The coin is sharp, I like it. Well researched and written. I loved it! Later!

Long Beard

Level 5

First, although I recently started collecting the U.S. Philippine coinage sparingly until I find a good reference book, this is one I have not heard of until now. Second, David Carr is the sort of engraver/designer one either loves or hates. Personally, I like his restrikes. Particularly the Walking Liberty with broken sword, my favorite. Great blog!

CentSearcher

Level 5

Very interesting topic. I think it is pretty neat about what they did to make this medal. Thanks for sharing!

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