BRUCE THOMAS COLLECTION OF SO-CALLED DOLLARS AND OTHER MEDALS
HK-011F MS 64 PL

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Coin Details

Origin/Country: United States SOUTH CAROLINA 1861
Design Description: SO-CALLED DOLLARS - HIBLER & KAPPEN TYPE 1
Item Description: SILVER SC$1 1861 SC HK-11F BOMBARDMENT OF FT SUMTER SILVER HK-11F
Full Grade: NGC MS 64 PL
Owner: Bruce Thomas Collection

Set Details

Custom Sets: BRUCE THOMAS COLLECTION OF SO-CALLED DOLLARS AND OTHER MEDALS
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Explorer NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

PRESS RELEASE FROM NGC REGARDING THIS UNIQUE MEDAL:

NGC Certifies First Silver Bombardment of Fort Sumter Medal

Posted on 11/14/2017

NGC has identified a new silver variety of the Fort Sumter Medal as HK-11f.

A new metal type for the renowned “Bombardment of Fort Sumter Dollar” was just identified by NGC’s tokens and medals team. This variety, found in silver, graded NGC MS 64, Prooflike. The piece is largely untoned, with very clean surfaces. NGC conducted both a metallurgic analysis and a specific gravity test to confirm its solid silver content, and that it was not a silver-plated copper specimen.

The 2nd edition of Hibler & Kappen’s So-Called Dollar book lists this medal as HK-11, 11b, and 11c — as white metal, brass and copper, respectively. Each of these have a rarity listed at R-7 (meaning an estimated 11-20 known) in each metal type, though they are more common than the authors originally suggest. For instance, NGC has certified about a dozen examples in white metal and over 20 examples in copper. The original book only listed this piece in white metal. The medal is, nonetheless, still very rare in all metal types, and highly sought by collectors.

As this new silver variety is unlisted, NGC has elected to identify it as HK-11f. It is likely that a few others exist in silver, and are only waiting to be brought to light. At auction, prices for these medals can vary drastically, selling from as low as $700, to upwards of $3,000, as in the case of the copper example from the Rev. Dr. James G.K. McClure Collection. Silver is often the far more desirable metal type for tokens and medals, and this specimen could demand an even sharper premium in the right venue.

The firing upon Fort Sumter by Confederate forces under Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard marked the beginning of the American Civil War. The spotlight was upon US Army Major Robert Anderson, who led a small force of loyal troops from Fort Moultrie to the much stronger and more strategic position at Fort Sumter. Southern leaders were outraged at their “betrayal,” but their stance was celebrated in the North. As the medal highlights, the Union troops were severely outnumbered and outgunned. The fort was low on ammunition, and they had no fuses for exploding shells, so only solid shot could be used.

At 4:30 a.m., April 12, 1861, 43 Confederate guns and mortars began firing upon the fort in a counterclockwise sequence, and continued for 34 hours straight. Major Anderson wisely kept his men out of harm's way by not manning guns on the top tier of the fort and other vulnerable areas. Exploding shells repeatedly landed inside the fort, and the Confederates heated other artillery rounds until they were glowing red hot, and targeted the fort’s wooden buildings. Before long, most of the buildings were in flames. During the bombardment, a shell struck the fort’s enormous flagpole, and the colors fell to the ground; but Norman J. Hall, a lieutenant, bravely exposed himself to enemy fire to put the flag back up. In doing so, his eyebrows were permanently singed off.

By April 13th, the fort was almost entirely depleted of ammunition, and the condition of Anderson’s men was becoming dire. Also, the Union ships outside the harbor were unable to approach to help. With no other options, Anderson agreed to evacuate the fort. They had sustained about 3,000 shells along with raging fires inside the fort without losing a single man.

After his heroic actions, Anderson was promoted to brigadier general. He retained the fort’s 33-star flag, and it became a symbol at rallies in the North for nationalism and rejection of secessionism. At the war’s end in 1865, Major Anderson returned to Fort Sumter to raise the flag he had lowered four years earlier.

The Bombardment of Fort Sumter Dollar was likely struck soon after the event, as the Union capitalized on the heroics of these men to encourage enlistment. Unfortunately, the origin of the piece has been elusive to researchers. Dewitt lists this piece as being muled with a McClellan campaign medal, the dies for which were made by George H. Lovett of New York in 1864.

THIS IS THE END OF THE NGC PRESS RELEASE.

An overview of how George Lovett operated is revealed in his August 16, 1885 interview with a reporter for the New York Sun in the opening of the piece entitled “The Art of Sinking Dies: A Talk with one of the Oldest New York Medallists".

“In what metals do you generally strike off your medals?” asked the man from the Sun. “Most commonly in white metal, which closely resembles silver and retains its luster for a long time. For Presidential campaigns or any important celebration, die sinkers get out little white metal medals with the busts of the candidates or some design commemorative of the celebration. We strike these medals off by the thousands. They are hawked about on the street and sold by fancy dealers. You will see many Grant medals between now and the General’s funeral. Thousands of medals were struck off for the Evacuation Day Centennial, but the rain spoiled the sale. Besides white metal we use bronze, or more properly stated, bronze-stained copper. The precious metals are not often called for.”

It is said that Mr. Lovett would sometimes strike one-off copies of some of his medals in precious metals such as silver for special presentation pieces for someone of high standing. Was this unique silver specimen struck for someone very special (General Grant, President Lincoln, Major Anderson, or some other person of high standing)? I suppose that we will never know, but it is likely that this unique silver edition of this medal was struck for someone very special!

I have also seen (but do not own) a silver medal with the "Bombardment" obverse from this medal paired with a bust of Major General George McClellan. This medal is listed in the Dewitt reference book as "DeWitt GMcC 1864-8(D), silver, 33.8mm". It is likely that this unique medal was meant to be awarded to McClellan by Mr. Lovett, but again we will probably never know. This example is also graded by NGC as MS 64 PL, and is also the only one graded of it's type by NGC to date.

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