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Astoria, Oregon Centennial

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There are many "so-called dollars" that are unlisted, even though they fit the definition as offered in the definitive catalog. These "unlisted" pieces are less well known because they are not cataloged. Some may be rarer than those actively collected, some may be more common. A recent addition to my collection is the souvenir of Astoria:




On April 12, 1811, John Jacob Astor’s ship, the Tonquin, sailed in the mouth of the Columbia River, successfully rode the waves over the sandbar that guards the river mouth, and anchored near present day Astoria. The men of Astor’s Pacific Fur Company sought to beat the rival British North West Company to lay claim to the Columbia and the rich lands of the Oregon territories. They built Fort Astoria, a “a stockade made of fir-logs, twenty feet high above the ground, inclosing a parallelogram of one hundred and fifty by two hundred and fifty feet, extending in its greatest length from northwest to southeast, and defended by bastions, or towers, at two opposite angles. Within this enclosure were all the buildings of the establishment, such as dwelling houses, magazines, storehouses, mechanics' shops, etc. The artillery included two heavy 18-pounders, six 6-pounders, four 4-pounders, two 6-pound Coe horns, and seven swivels, all mounted. The number of persons attached to the place besides the few native women and children, was sixty-five.” (Gray’s 1870 History of Oregon)


The city of Astoria planned a month long celebration commencing August 9, 1911. It was the only pageant planned on the west coast of the United States in that year. Events included a motor speedboat regatta along with competition in the fishing boat, sail boats, sculling and tubs races, along with Native American canoe races. Glenn Curtiss was contracted to exhibit his airplane and hydro-airplanes flying over the mouth of the Columbia with water take offs and landings. Topping off the festivities were American and British battleship displays joined by battleships from South America, China, and Japan.

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  • 4 months later...

I recently acquired an official centennial committee badge and a brochure from the event. First the badge:




The brochure emphasizes the accomplishments of the white people and why they are superior to the Indians. An Indian encampment, mock battles, and a romantic Indian play were part of the event. The scene on the so-called dollar shows Chinook canoes fairly accurately. The tepees on the badge were used in the plains and the far eastern end of the Columbia Plateau, but not by the people living on the Columbian. They constructed large cedar plank houses.

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Okay, besides exonumia, I like combining the medals with appropriate images. I've put the two Astoria pieces together with the cover of the centennial souvenir brochure:




If you want to see the image in all its detail, check it out here.

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  • 1 month later...

My article on the Astoria Centennial pieces is the cover story in the March issue of The Numismatist. I'm very happy with the layout and editing.

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